A Zest for Flavor Production

"The smells, the beakers, the scales—these are my first memories of my father's business," Glueck recalls of her childhood.

As head of flavor house and lemon producer Citromax, Vivian Glueck has a taste for business and an eye on the international marketplace

She spent her early childhood in Argentina, was in a lab helping her father create compounds from formulas during high school, earned a bachelor’s in physics and a master’s in astrophysics, and has worked as a researcher in NASA’s Department of Atmospheric and Space Sciences. Vivian Glueck’s life has been quite a journey—she added even more flavor to it in 1986, when she took over as president of Citromax, a leading grower in the world’s production of lemons, a producer of oils and juices, and the cornerstone of the family enterprises that her father, Jacob Glueck, began in the 1960s.

“When I was a little girl, the smells, the beakers, the scales—these are my first memories of my father’s business,” Glueck says. “Now, as president of the companies, I wear many hats. The principal one, of course, is to oversee our overall strategic initiatives and decisions and to guide the companies’ direction. My father used to say he was ‘chief cook and bottle washer’—I also say that. Most of my customers know me personally.”

THROUGH THE YEARS

1960s—Jacob Glueck assumes management of US flavor house Citroil Enterprises and Fritzsche SAICA

1981—Citromax SACI builds its new industrial factory in Tafi Viejo, Argentina

1997—Vivian Glueck takes over management for Citroil Enterprises, Citromax SACI, Fritzsche SAICA, and Citromax Essências Ltda

2010—Citromax incorporates a new organic blueberry orchard into its holdings, and is now the largest organic producer in Argentina

In the years since its founding, Citromax has grown to five interrelated companies: Citromax SACI in Argentina, Fritzsche SAICA in Argentina, Citromax Essências Ltda in Brazil, and Citroil Enterprises and Citromax Flavors in New Jersey. Glueck has spent the past five years returning Citromax to its original roots as a flavor house, which led to the incorporation of Citromax Flavors, servicing the North American flavor market. A WBE, Citromax Flavors is building on its reputation as a producer of high-quality lemon oil and concentrated lemon juice. Since companies that purchase those products tend to also purchase flavors, Citromax is behind many of today’s most recognized flavors in beverages, confection, dairy, and baked goods. In 2003, Citromax opened a new production facility and since then the company has already undergone one expansion with plans for more.

“We decided to expand our direction here in the United States by starting Citromax Flavors,” Glueck says. “We assembled a top-flight team of extremely talented individuals that are very well known in the flavor industry to lead this expansion.  All of them have multiple years of experience and wanted the challenges and benefits of moving from a large, bureaucratic organization to a smaller, more nimble company.”

Citromax develops flavors by formulating combinations of aroma chemicals and essential oils to create a synergistic blend, says Elaine Kellman-Grosinger, chief flavor chemist and head of research and development. Every chemical has a distinct aroma, and when many are blended together in a unique way, a specific characteristic flavor is created. Different companies purchase different products depending on the product they produce. If they are predominantly a citrus company, they buy citrus flavors. If they are a baked goods company, they buy flavors specific for cakes and cookies called “brown” flavors, like vanilla, chocolate, and caramel. If they’re a cutting-edge beverage company and want unique blends they will buy exotic flavor blends.

“Clients are as diverse as the flavors they purchase,” Kellman-Grossinger says. “Most of our flavors are created as a response to a specific client request and exclusive to each client. At times, we are proactive and create flavors that we are excited about and want to introduce them to our clients and then, ultimately, the consumer. These may be unique and exotic flavors created from tropical fruits tasted in South America, or unique blends our staff creates. We think it, create it, and feature it.”

Citromax’s newest project is the construction of a new facility in Argentina for Citromax SACI. “I look forward to spending at least the next 30 years in our new facility,” Glueck says.  “The new campus will include four main buildings and several satellite buildings. It approximately doubles our square footage to 400,000 square feet, and we hope to eventually double our production capacity.”

The building is slated for completion in 2012—exactly 30 years after Jacob Glueck built the existing facility. Another family legacy is upheld.