Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Diane Dusick


Some small food processing businesses in the United States lack strategies to remain financially viable beyond 5 years of operation. Owners and managers of small food processing businesses could benefit from an improved understanding of the importance of effective strategies to improve small business sustainability. Grounded in systems theory, the purpose of this qualitative single case study was to explore strategies small food processing companies use to sustain operations beyond 5 years. The participants were 1 small-business owner and 8 managers in Lexington, Kentucky, who used effective strategies to sustain business operations beyond 5 years. Data collected came from semi-structured interviews, company documents, and observations of participants during a morning staff huddle and a staff meeting. Thematic analysis and methodological triangulation were the means of analyzing the data. Three themes emerged from this study: customer service, strategic planning, and effective leadership. A key recommendation is for small business owners to identify customer expectations through active engagement and recognize the importance of customer retention. The implications for social change include the potential for food processing companies to contribute to the economic sustainability of a community, providing income to farmers, local jobs, and food to consumers.