As a new venture for spirits industry veterans, branding, experiential marketing and consulting company FLUID prides itself on its entrepreneurial spirit. CEO Guillermo Rodriguez seeks out team members who embody that ideal and are willing to fill any role to help the company and its clients advance, or as the FLUID’s tag line touts, “Venture Forward.”

“No one here is above anything,” he says. “We encourage everyone to take calculated risks for our clients, even if it doesn’t always work out. You can’t be afraid to fail,” Rodriguez says. “People who are afraid to fail typically don’t fit into our culture. Our team knows the family is here to help them pick up the pieces, learn from the lesson and keep going.”

As chief procurement officer for one of the world’s largest independently owned catering companies, John Krebs utilized group purchasing organizations to assist sourcing of his company’s food and supplies. “The staff I had was never enough to get to all the products; there were always too many competing priorities to cover all the needs,” he says. “However, these group purchasing organizations (GPO’s) I relied on for purchasing had limitations.  They could bring an initial savings but never assisted in getting me to the next level.”

When he established his own (company), Axis Purchasing, in 2006, he was determined not to take a hands-off approach with his own clients. “I’ve found that other purchasing groups just put you on a portfolio, but don’t show you what to do with it,” says Krebs, Axis Purchasing’s CEO. “With us, you get someone who helps you out, not just a portfolio of good deals.”

Santucci Associates started business in 1959 as a nut and dried fruit broker, and formed the Specialty Food division in 1964. It introduced specialty foods and confectionery products to department stores such as Wanamakers, Strawbridge & Clothier, Gimbels, Hutzler’s, Hoschild Kohn’s, Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoades, along with German delis, cheese/gourmet shops, gift shops and upscale independent grocers. As times changed, and the department stores faded away, Santucci Associates began focusing on grocery chains through Specialty Food Distributors.  

“Today, it is primarily supermarkets through distributors with most of the old department stores and German delis gone,” Jerry Santucci says.   

Michael “Tony” Russo recalls a time when, as a child helping out in his father’s produce distribution business, he had collected 20 cases of asparagus from a supplier and brought them back to his family’s warehouse only to discover that one of the company’s drivers had already collected the same amount of the vegetable. After learning that his family was charged for only the first 20 cases collected, he worried about the consequences of holding onto the overage. 

“I thought that the supplier would believe we had taken 20 cases of asparagus from them,” he says. “I couldn’t sleep that night, and worried all night that I had done something that would tarnish my family’s name.”

Campbellford Wholesale is willing to do whatever it takes to please its customers, whether they’re located in the company’s home province of Ontario, Canada, or on the other side of the world in Australia. 

“Customer service is what sets us apart,” the company says. “We tend to look after our customers quite well, and over time you build trust and you continue doing business.”

The company provides tobacco, confectionary items, health and beauty products, pet foods, snacks, batteries and other items for convenience stores and foodservice accounts. Campbellford Wholesale expands its services during the summer months to include more than 400 seasonal businesses.

Verity Wine Partners was founded in 2009 with the goal of becoming the best fine wine distributor in New York. It represents a comprehensive portfolio of more than 750 wines from 240 wineries in 15 wine-producing countries. 

“One of the industry’s most diverse portfolios, what all Verity Wines share in common are balance, character, authenticity and, most important of all, [they] deliver value respective of their price,” the company says.

Working along with its loyal wine partners, Verity Wine Partners is the fastest-growing fine wine distributor in its region. Therefore, it is recruiting for its sales team as it expands into new areas, says Steve Doran, founding partner. It currently employs about 30 sales staff.

When Zalmi Duchman and Yosef Schwartz, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, founded The Fresh Diet in 2005, they wanted to combine the three important pillars of taste, convenience and results. Now 10 years later, the Fresh Diet has evolved into the nation’s premier gourmet diet delivery service, preparing and hand-delivering three fresh meals and two gourmet snacks to upwards of 3,000 customers daily.

“The brilliance behind a product such as The Fresh Diet is how easily it integrates and supports someone’s lifestyle,” Director of Strategic Initiatives Arley Betteridge Hunt says. “Our customers are not just dieters. We support a vast range of lifestyles and cater to different careers, needs and dietary preferences.” 

Trends come and go in the restaurant business, but ensuring profitability never goes out of style. But in a competitive landscape and an industry where 25 percent of restaurants close after their first year in business, ensuring profitability can be a tricky thing.

“What we see as the real topic of discussion – separate from the big consumer trends like sustainability and local – is food cost management,” explains Eric Cronert, vice president of marketing and communications at Reinhart Foodservice. “Our clients are looking for ways to better manage their food costs so they can better manage their overall operations and stay competitive in the landscape. Our clients have a great passion for food and they know good food. Our support is through helping them navigate new trends and getting new items on their menu, all while staying on top of rising commodity costs.”

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