Distributor Awards Presented to a Packed House!
several awards each year to recognize excellence in the distribution network.
The Nashville Experience delivered four awards October 26th at the W Hotel. Pat
Mulhern, CEO, summed up the purpose of the night simply, "we have the best
customer base in the industry – and the best distributors in the business are
right here in this room." Pat elaborated on the DMA distributor network's
longevity as a significant differentiator, "the average age of our family-owned
members is 90 years...and as we've seen over the past few years, experience
matters in this business. DMA has 68 distribution centers and 15 companies who appreciate and know how to serve chains."
presented the first award of the night to Harbor Wholesale's Lacey
Distribution Center. Rick Jensen, President of Harbor Wholesale, summed up
Harbor Lacey's recognition to people, "the Erickson family culture has been
central to the company's success over the past 100 years. Putting people first
is a big part of that and the spirit of service that comes with it."
that philosophy, it's not surprising that Harbor Lacey received the highest
marks from DMA's operator survey overall with particular emphasis on customer
service and communication, where they received perfect scores.
Benedetti is the quarterback for our program accounts with Dino D'Aquila also
playing a big role," Jensen continued, "but there are SO many team members that touch
that part of the business from transportation, warehouse, purchasing, customer service, and pricing...it truly is a team effort!"
award of the night went to Gordon Food Service's Dallas facility. This DC also
received a top overall score, but was individually recognized by customers for
delivery and pricing accuracy with nearly perfect scores in both of those
Speer Edwards leads the team at GFS Dallas and echoed Harbor's people focused
message, "Our people make the difference. We have a solid core of team members
that strive to make sure that we are achieving our customers' needs and
recognized team members Julio Rodriguez, Director of Transportation and
Warehouse Director, Brad Lamberts. "Obviously , there are a host of people
critical to our success, but our operations teams work together to make sure we
are being as efficient as possible while providing the highest service."
distributor award was presented to Ben E. Keith's San Antonio facility. This
facility was the largest of the top performing DCs and customers delivered
their highest ratings for limited time offer responsiveness and inventory
manages that distribution center and credits Greg Payne, John Marsh, Beco Maldonado and the entire team with
collaborating during times of extraordinary need to still deliver very
customized service to the operators in their care. Greg attributes "the best
team in the business" title to his customer service and account leaders such as
Maria Villareal, Alora Williams, Natalie Castillo and Beckie Sanchez. "The key
to taking care of customers is great people," he said.
The sign on
the wall at BEK San Antonio speaks not only to their customer focus – but to
the other recognized DMA distribution centers as well. It reads, "#1 rule = the
customer is always right. Rule #2, if it appears the customer might be wrong,
refer to rule #1."
The final award of the evening was presented to the Account Manager of the Year. This recognizes the best of the best in customer care as rated by the DMA account team and reflects feedback they've received throughout the year from customers as well.
Hayden Lesko, this year's recipient, learned his craft from the milk delivery drivers he helped every day in his first role at Shamrock Foods seven years ago. He was offered an opportunity to apply his degree in business management as part of the marketing team and then moved into account management assisting a DMA regional account.
"I focused every day on keeping accounts humming and developing relationships with all my customer contacts. The cool thing about this business is that it truly is all about the people." When a fast-growing, national chain came along, however, Hayden just knew he wanted to be involved with that new opportunity. "I said, ‘I'm your guy!' and was asked to onboard them. It's been great – and now I get to coach and mentor new team members which I really enjoy!"
DMA team feedback ranged from "Works 7 days a week for Shamrock" to "SUPER responsive" to "always exceeds expectations and does excellent work." Pat summarized the superlatives by saying, "Hayden is one of the next generation of leaders is in the industry and joins his colleague Jeff Peitzmeier as one of five winners of this award from Shamrock in 26 years."
Congratulations to Hayden and the DC of the Year winners for 2023!
Abounds for Foodservice Despite Recent Challenges
uncertainty about future challenges, restaurant operators, suppliers, and
distributors remain optimistic about the future of foodservice.
That was a
general theme on display during the DMA Nashville Experience, held Oct.
25 through Oct. 27 at the W Nashville hotel. While foodservice
stakeholders were aware of the challenges, many pointed to positive signals that
the industry was already in recovery following the pandemic.
Want to Visit Restaurants
inflationary pressures, many consumers sought social engagement and
full-service restaurants served as an easy solution to meet this need.
recovering in terms of our social engagement. And that's not something we're
willing to give up as consumers, either," said Piper Sandler Managing
Director and Senior Research Analyst Nicole Miller Regan, in the first four
information sessions held at the event. "They liked the social engagement and
they want to be in a full-service restaurant, and I think that it'll calibrate
more towards [that.]"
Maze, Editor-in-Chief of Restaurant Business, said the fast-food
segment was doing well despite current challenges. He noted fast-food sales
were returning to a more normalized state of things, but that the way consumers
engaged with those operators changed since the pandemic.
the pandemic forced operators and consumers alike to shift towards mobile
ordering, which has remained popular with customers. That said, he noted
in-person service was still going to be an important aspect of fast-food
operations for years to come.
still going to be a segment of your customer base that for one reason or
another is going to come into the restaurant. And so I think that we've also
learned that you can't just completely keep your dining rooms closed," he
Key for Today's Customer
Sustainable Packaging in the "To-Go" Decade panel, hosted by Datassential's
Marie Molde and featuring InnoPak Director of Sustainability Nathan
Schultz and Raising Cane's SVP Supply Chain Kelby Leuthold, showcased
the consumer demand for sustainable packaging.
Leuthold and Schultz noted the transition to more environmentally friendly
packaging had business considerations that must be addressed, including
increased prices and consumer expectations regarding the quality of food. That
said, both agreed that their companies were working towards these sustainable
conversation about climate change is very real and happening among consumers
today. They're thinking about that, and it's really driving their behaviors
toward wanting to be more sustainable for a healthier planet," shared Molde,
explaining the importance of a sustainability journey for foodservice
Traffic Comes Back
fourth panel, RJ Hottovy, Placer.ai's Head of Analytical Research,
argued restaurant visits per location seemed to be normalizing. He noted
visitation trends were very healthy in the suburbs as Americans migrated from
major cities, and that growth was evident in Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; and
noted the fast-casual segment was being impacted by inflation with bifurcation
evident among existing fast-casual customers. Lower-income customers headed
more toward quick-service restaurants, while consumers on the higher end turned
toward full-service operations. Food
Chain Success Depends Upon Collaboration
chain success, all stakeholders from manufacturers to operators must collaborate
openly and effectively.
That was the
general theme of the "Supply Chain Talent All Star Panel" at the DMA
Nashville Experience. The event featured Tropical Smoothie Café SVP
Supply Chain Kristin Kingery, Focus Brands SVP Supply Chain Anissa Mandell-Chance,
and Firehouse Subs VP Supply Chain Matt Riddleberger.
President of Business Development Amy Snook opened the panel discussion by
highlighting how consumers were more aware of the supply chain than ever before
following the pandemic and related port shutdowns, freight delays, and trucker
consumer dynamic underscored a need for strong relationships along the supply
chain and a strategy to go with it. Riddleberger noted that after four decades,
the days of assumed 90+% fill rates were gone—instead, supply chain specialists
had to look further up the chain to ensure a menu item like a limited-time
offer (LTO) was feasible.
the manufacturer? How are they on raw materials? How are they on their
packages? How's the freight? All those things are now being communicated up to
the c-suite. And previously, they just took it for granted," he said.
Visibility Changes Operations
panelists agreed that operators have gotten better at "flying blind" over the past
said a focus on data quality helped her organization better control its own
supply chain, and that data quantity could often lead to more confusion.
Instead, partnering with distributors and suppliers for end-to-end visibility
made it easier to address issues before they happened.
"We want to
do more about fire prevention than firefighting. And in order to do that, we
have to have that visibility upstream," she said.
said operators were looking for consistent data, too, and that many
distributors and suppliers utilized different metrics. A more unified approach
to this data would benefit the entire supply chain.
"In the old
days, knowledge was power. The information was power. Now we've got to share
with everybody we're going to survive through this," he said.
Focus on People and Connections
dynamics of the distribution industry led to new hires for all three companies.
Riddleberger noted Firehouse Subs had brought in an inventory control manager
to issue daily critical inputs reports; Focus Brands established a data
analytics team to automate tasks that were burning workers out; and Tropical
Smoothie Café expanded its bandwidth in the inventory management space via new
a culture of giving at Tropical Smoothie Café helped to stall against burnout.
She added that the company encouraged franchisees to give truck drivers a free
smoothie upon a delivery as one of the many ways the company helped to build
camaraderie along the supply chain.
said Focus Brands had developed a steering committee to walk through
decision-making processes. She said 9 out of 10 times, the original plan would
work. The steering committee strategies, however, helped transform an essential
process due to the increased collaboration when outlier problems arose,
rendering the original plan ineffective.
Riddleberger, Firehouse Subs wanted to hire people from other parts of the
supply chain to help the organization better understand upstream inputs. He
also noted it was worth cultivating relationships with counterparts at
distributors and suppliers.
agreed, saying that it was even more important for connections across a
company's hierarchy. She likened relationships between account managers and the
c-suite to a cross-bar in a building.
there's a reason in buildings that people put in crossbeams because they make
things stronger. So, if you've got a straight line, you can break the beam real
easy, but when you fill up a network and a web, it just makes that relationship
a lot stronger," she said. Food
Climate-Controlled Farming Hits Ohio
Roots and Gordon
Food Service have expanded their effort to make locally grown food
available more widely, opening a 2 million-plant indoor, climate-controlled
farming facility inside Gordon's Springfield, Ohio, distribution center.
The farm has
the capacity to grow more than 2.4 million packages of leafy greens and herbs
annually, Square Roots said. The operation uses a modular, climate-controlled
platform. Software constantly monitors and controls multiple climates, allowing
a number of crops to be grown simultaneously.
we've been on a journey with Square Roots, delivering on our vision to make
locally grown, nutritious produce available to our customers, regardless of
outdoor weather conditions or the time of year," Rich Wolowski, president and
CEO of Gordon Food Service, said in a press release.
Service is one of the largest U.S. food distributors, servicing restaurants,
schools, hospitals and retail stores. Food
is leveraging edge
computing to support the myriad digital ways customers place orders, according
to VP of technology Vadim Parizher. The company places a computer server at
each location which aggregates data from in-person and digital orders and
customer loyalty accounts to better inform kitchen operations and timing,
reported The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 20). Full
Bell introduced electric vehicle charging stations at a location near San
Francisco. Partnering with ChargeNet, one Taco Bell location debuted six
solar-powered EV charging stations that can provide a 100-mile charge in 20
minutes or less for about $20, reported Business Insider (Oct. 18). Full
Friday returned at McDonald's. Order through the app on Fridays and
receive a free medium fry through the end of the year. Full Story
Brands began exiting
Russia and selling the business to Smart Service Ltd., which is operated
by one of the company's existing KFC franchisees there. The new owner
will be responsible for rebranding the restaurants to non-Yum concepts and
retaining the company's employees, reported Bloomberg (Oct. 24). Full
chain Tumble 22 has been acquired by a group including an ex-Texas
Roadhouse COO. Doug Thompson will become the CEO of the five-unit brand, reported
Restaurant Business (Oct. 26). Full
agreed to pay $5.5
million to resolve claims that it falsely advertised its hamburgers as
containing "double the beef." The settlement benefits consumers who purchased
menu items like the Bacon Triple Double Hamburger between 2017 and 2019,
reported News.Law (Oct. 26). Full
will test fully automated restaurants in 2023. Using robotic Spyce
technology acquired last year, Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Nemen said automating
its stores could be "transformative" and help the restaurant offer better
quality food, better portioning, and a more consistent customer experience,
reported Restaurant Business (Nov. 8). Full
launched its first national dessert, a ‘healthy' take on the Rice Krispies
Treat. The launch of the prepackaged dessert, made with organic brown rice,
quinoa, millet, and honey-date caramel, comes as Sweetgreen looks for ways to
push up sales, reported CNBC (Nov. 3). Full
Jr. announced plans
to continue its European expansion. CKE Restaurants Holdings secured a
franchise agreement with Spycher Burger Gang AG to develop Carl's Jr.
locations throughout Switzerland starting in mid-2023. Full
opened a digital food hall in Florida. The digital-first, downtown Miami
concept offers food from Burger King, Firehouse Subs, and Popeyes
as well as half a dozen local restaurants. Customers can order from all at
once, reported Restaurant Business Online (Nov. 7). Full
on the Move:
named Todd Wilson as CFO effective Nov. 7, reported The Wall Street Journal
(Oct. 31). Full
Caesars has named
Greg Hamilton chief marketing officer. Hamilton is a 20-year veteran of the
pizza chain, reported Restaurant Business (Oct. 31). Full
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Packaging Goals Must Be Aspirational and Achievable
are starting to demand more sustainable packaging solutions for foodservice
products, operators, suppliers, and distributors must make sound business
choices in their sustainability journeys.
was on full display during at the DMA Nashville Experience during the
Sustainable Packaging in the "To-Go" Decade panel, which was hosted by Datassential's
Marie Molde and featured InnoPak Director of Sustainability Nathan
Schultz and Raising Cane's SVP Supply Chain Kelby Leuthold.
a Growing Concern for Consumers
the panel with a presentation on the growing importance of sustainability among
consumers. Datassential employs a menu adoption cycle curve to explain how
different trends proliferate, with the newest trends placed within the
"inception" category while more tried-and-true trends are placed within the
many sustainability issues were currently in the inception stage among
consumers, including "zero waste" and "food as activism" trends. Animal welfare
and plant-based proteins were already proliferating across menus, however,
showcasing the importance of sustainability to consumers in the current day.
change was also a top concern among consumers (31%), trailing only the economy
(45%) and healthcare (41%). Consumers also recognized their role in mitigating
climate change by eating differently (65%), but 67% agreed that agricultural
companies and restaurants bear more responsibility for addressing climate
change than individual consumers do.
conversation about climate change is very real and happening among consumers
today. They're thinking about that, and it's really driving their behaviors
toward wanting to be more sustainable for a healthier planet," shared Molde.
Adoption Hampered by Cost
consumer interest in more sustainable options, Molde argued costs remained a
major barrier to adoption of more sustainable packaging products.
found in our research is that we're driven to do this because just as humans,
we want to do what's right. So if being sustainable is the right thing to do,
we generally want to do that. But there are barriers to it, and the number one
barrier is the cost," she said.
agreed with the assessment and noted many sustainable packaging solutions were
much more expensive than traditional counterparts. As an example, he said paper
bags for foodservice products could be as much as 25 times more expensive than
argued the consumers would only embrace sustainable packaging solutions if they
didn't impact the way food tasted after being placed within it.
one of the most important parts is that it's going to work well for the food;
it has to taste like when the customer actually visited. So I think there's
been a lot of innovation from the packaging side and the manufacturing side to
help with that," he said.
Consumers Challenged by Sustainable Products
consumers reporting they would sacrifice functionality for sustainability, there
was some question as to whether consumers truly understood the tradeoff. Molde
pointed to paper straws as an example.
seen that there's a plastic island the size of Texas in our ocean and there's
turtles with plastic straws up their noses, but we also hear complaints that
when you have a paper straw, then it disintegrates within your beverage," she
noted the fiber clamshell and other fiber packaging was a great example for
this type of tradeoff. The current solution on the market was very good at
preventing leaks, but consumers could be thrown off by new packaging for
to see staining where you didn't before. You're going to see bleed-through
where you didn't before. And when you figure in delivery times (30-40 minutes
generally), taking the food home, preparing it, and finally eating it is a long
time for stuff to potentially sit in the package," he said. Food
Sales Hold Strong in September
sales growth remained strong at 5.2% in September, dropping just marginally
from the 5.3% increase reported in August, according to Black Box
Intelligence. The group noted steep declines in gas prices and the
moderation of inflation rates appeared to help with the bolstered sales
an erosion of guest counts were seen across nearly all segments in the month as
guest continue to pull back on their spending as earning decrease
year-over-year. Same-store traffic growth fell 3.6% year-over-year during the
month, representing the seventh month in a row of negative traffic growth
Mexican Grill's August
price hikes paid off. After raising prices in August for the third time in 15
months, the chain said same-store sales rose 7.6% compared to the previous year
and topped Wall Street's estimates for third-quarter earnings, reported CNBC
(Oct. 25). Full
sales rose 5% in the third quarter, with KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco
Bell all posting growth, reported CNBC (Nov. 2). Full
reported a 9.1% same-store sales increase during third quarter 2022, with increases
reported for Burger King (+10.3%), Tim Hortons (+9.8%), and Popeyes
(+3.1%). Digital sales increased 26% year-over-year to $3.4 billion,
representing about a third of system-wide sales, reported Seeking Alpha
(Nov. 3). Full
John's said summer
travel, which made a comeback this year after many Covid restrictions eased,
hurt pizza sales in the third quarter. Papa John's restaurants also saw "food
basket costs" jump 18%, driven by a year-over-year increase in the price of
cheese, reported Bloomberg (Nov. 3). Full
U.S. sales beat
expectations for quarterly earnings and revenue, as customers spent more on
iced coffee drinks and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Fueled by fall promotions, U.S.
traffic bounced back to 95% of pre-pandemic levels in September, reported CNBC.
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