Buddy's Kitchen Then & Now

Buddy’s Kitchen was founded near Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1974 by Nils “Buddy” Eian. The first Buddy’s product - a mouthwatering, hand-cooked omelet made for North Central Airlines - remains a signature Buddy’s product to this day.

Until 2007, Buddy’s focused primarily on airline customers. Since 2007, the company has meaningfully diversified its customer base and capabilities and opened a second, larger production facility in 2016. We produce more than 350,000 meals daily.

The company was acquired by Premium Brands Holdings in 2017 and is now part of its North american Sandwich Division along with SK Food Group and Raybern Foods. Buddy's brand is still based on customization, agile innovation and flexible manufacturing. Our focus remains delivering a customer-intimate experience under the continued leadership of CEO Dave Smith and his proven leadership team.

Today, Buddy’s Kitchen is an industry leader in the customization of frozen food and co-packing. Newer customers include industry leaders in specialty food service application in the Convenience, QSR and Deli channels.




Dave Smith, CEO

Dave Invested in Buddys' in September 2007 and became its CEO at that time. In addition to his CEO duties, Dave leads Buddy's efforts in the C-Store channel.  Prior to Buddy's, Dave led Mark VII Equipment as CEO and was a founding manager of Nationwide Electric - both private equity-backed firms that concluded with successful exits. Earlier in his career, Dave led other companies in the manufacturing and commercial real estate industries. Dave earned his MBA at Harvard and his BA at Macalester College. He has been married to Lisa for 33 years, has three grown children, and works diligently at staying young at heart.


Joe Chiovera

Joe has been affiliated with Buddy's as a leader and consultant since 2014. Joe leads the Emerging Channel category as well as Buddy's Innovation & Design culinary group. Joe's successful career in convenience foodservice includes stops at Sheetz, 7-Eleven, Exxon Mobil On the Run and Circle K. Joe trained at Johnson & Wales University earning his AS degree in Culinary Arts and BS in Business Management. Recently, Joe and his two sons won a reality show competition on "Guy's Grocery Games"! Joe is married with one son in college and one in high school.


Jeff Covey

Jeff Covey joined Buddy’s in 2013 and leads our efforts in Co-Packing & Commercialization.  Jeff has deep experience and expertise in clean label products, innovative packaging, the product development process and product launches.  Jeff earned his BS from the University of Wisconsin and MBA from UW-Whitewater. Jeff has been married to Hillary for 5 years, and their son Wyn was born in June 2017.


Brad Wetherbee

Brad joined Buddy's in 1992 to lead the company efforts serving the airline industry and continues in that role to this day. Brad started his airline food service career with Northwest Airlines in 1981 as a manager in their Minneapolis Flight Kitchen and eventually became Director of Food Service Planning at Northwest. He is married and has two children and two grand-daughters.


Derek Hoffman

Derek is Vice President, Operations. A 2008 graduate of Luther College with a BA in both Accounting and Economics, Derek joined Buddy's in 2009 after a brief stint in public accounting. His first roles at Buddy's included procurement and scheduling. Prior to his promotion to VP, Operations, Derek served at Buddy's Controller. He is married and, when he isn't working at Buddy's, he spends his free time on his farm in western Minnesota.


Tom Webber

Tom joined Buddy's in 2009 as Vice President, Food Safety & Quality. Tom earned his BS in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. Later, Tom completed a Master's Degree in Food Safety from Michigan State University. Tom has nearly 3o years of food manufacturing experience in Operations, Quality Assurance and Food Safety in various manufacturing environments including dairy, meat & poultry, and medical foods. Tom is a member of the American Society of Quality Assurance (ASQ) and a registered SQF Consultant. He is married with adult & college-age children.


Mark Mateski

Mark joined Buddy's in 2016 as Controller. He is a 2010 graduate of Luther College with a BA in both Accounting and Management Information Systems (MIS). He worked three years as an auditor with Deloitte, then three years as a division controller with the defense contractor ATK Orbital. Mark is married and his first child was born in August 2017.