The late Thomas J. Stewart built the food-service empire in Seattle before spurning Washington state over its inheritance tax in 2006.

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Citing its strength in the Pacific Northwest, food distribution giant US Foods announced plans Monday to buy substantially all of the food-service businesses of Services Group of America (SGA) for $1.8 billion.

SGA, with subsidiaries that procure and deliver a broad range of foods to some 33,000 restaurant and institutional food-service customers, was built over several decades in Seattle by Thomas J. Stewart, who got his start in his father’s business, Seattle Stevedore Company, in the late 1960s.

Stewart, an influential presence in the Republican party, moved the company’s headquarters from a West Seattle building – recognizable by the large American flag out front – to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2006, in an angry response to Washington’s inheritance tax.

But SGA subsidiaries Food Services of America, Amerifresh and Ameristar Meats still maintain several facilities in the Northwest, including in Kent, Everett, Tukwila, Mount Vernon, Yakima, Spokane, Portland, Boise and Anchorage, a company spokesman said.

US Foods, based in Rosemont, Ill., said it will gain some 3,400 employees, 12 distribution centers and $3.2 billion in annual sales across five SGA subsidiaries sold in the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval.

“This acquisition will significantly increase US Foods’ reach across key markets in the attractive and growing Northwest region of the U.S. and adds one of the most well-regarded regional distributors to our company,” US Foods Chairman and CEO Pietro Satriano said in a news release.

Stewart along with three family members and a pilot died in a helicopter crash in 2010. SGA is led by one of his sons, Slade Stewart, who called the transaction the fulfillment of “our long-term vision of serving customers across America.”

SGA will continue as a holding company with its main asset being commercial real estate subsidiary Development Services of America, which owns properties in the Northwest, the spokesman said.