Expert Interview – The Power of Association

For this month’s Expert Interview I spoke with Dan Murphy, Vice President of Membership and Corporate Relations for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Dan is a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry.

LC: What is your role with the FRLA and how long have you been part of the organization?

DM: I have been with the FRLA for over 20 years. It is my responsibility to oversee the membership department. We have a team of 13 individuals who handle the marketing, sales, retention, sponsors, partners and events for the association. Part of my role is to assist independent and chain operators, both restaurateurs and hoteliers, to ensure that the industry stays protected.

LC: Tell me about how the FRLA supports the hospitality industry?

DM: FRLA is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association representing more than 10,000 members. Our mission is to ‘Protect, Educate and Promote’ Florida’s $82 billion hospitality industry which represents 23% of Florida’s economy. With more than 1.1 million employees it is the state’s number one industry.

We offer regulatory compliance and food safety training needs such as RCS and SafeStaff®. We provide industry developed career-building high school programs through the FRLA Education Foundation. The FRLA safeguards the needs of the hospitality industry by providing legislative advocacy. And, we sponsor the only event in Florida exclusively serving the restaurant and foodservice industry, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show held each fall.

LC: Wow! That is a lot of support! As a supplier to this industry, we sure appreciate what you do.

What are 2 big industry changes you have seen within last few years?

DM: Technological innovation. It’s no surprise that technology continues to be an on-going subject in the hospitality industry. Hotels now have mobile check-in, valet communication, and meetings and events request service. Robotics has started to make its mark as well. Tablet kiosks have either replaced or supplemented servers in restaurants and geo-location has significantly helped restaurant’s royalty and discount programs with their marketing plan.

Everything is moving, even more so than before, into a digital platform and millennials, in the particular, as looking for free Wi-Fi, social media platforms to provide quick feedback, immediate responses to on-site requests.

Then there are emerging platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and food delivery services. These cost-saving, quick response and on-line opportunities are appealing to travelers, but they are affecting the hospitality industry.

LC: What is the biggest challenge that restaurants and hotels are having today?

DM: I know that one of the biggest challenges that everyone in the industry is having is hiring staff. Connecting with suitable candidates, choosing the right candidate, and keeping those superior employees.

LC: How can they approach that?

DM: Now that much of the workforce is the millennial generation and younger, managers and owners may need to focus some of their efforts in hiring and retaining practices based on their needs, reactions, thoughts or wants. I am not saying that we need to cater to this generation, but a few tweaks in the employee handbook or the orientation may make a difference.

LC: I agree with you. We’re educating our managers on Millennials and how they differ from the Boomers and Gen-Xers. In a few years, that age group will make up 50% of the US workforce. It’s critical to attract and retain those younger adults.

What is an emerging opportunity or trend that restaurants and/or hotels should be aware of?

DM: Disruption! The idea that the “old” rules don’t apply. Time to shake things up and make some changes. For example, guests are much more mobile. They want grab ‘n’ go options as well as health and wellness options. Guests no longer want to work in the hotel rooms, but have a space in the lobby to connect to WI-FI in an open and inviting environment.

LC: What other advice can you offer?

DM: We have had several members that have mentioned that community relations and charitable connections have made a huge difference in their business models and brands. Tijuana Flats and Firehouse of America both have charities that they incorporate into their marketing brand. They have ties to their communities that their patrons appreciate and it shows!

LC: What is the best way for people to contact the FRLA?

DM: FRLA is open 5 days a week from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Any of our staff can we reached by calling 850-224-2250. For additional information, visit Stay in touch through our various social media channels on Twitter or Instagram @FRLANews, Facebook or YouTube.



Expert Interview – The True Value of Clean

This month I had the opportunity to interview Dan Wagner, Director of Facility Service Programs at ISSA and a 17-year veteran of the cleaning industry. ISSA is the preeminent association for the cleaning industry and Dade Paper has been a member for 35 years.

LC: You have been part of the ISSA team for many years. What roles have you held?

DW: I actually started my career as in-house counsel. I assisted members with their legal and regulatory compliance concerns in the areas of hazardous chemical handling and transportation, product registration and licensing and overall safety. When ISSA made the decision to become an all-industry association in 2005, they needed someone to head up our newly created department that is responsible for developing and managing programs for facility service provider members. Since then my responsibility has expanded to include all education, training, standards and certification programs which allows me to work with all segments of the industry, including manufacturers, distributors, building service contractors, in-house cleaning providers and facility managers. I now serve on ISSA’s senior executive team and it is my privilege to work with members and represent the industry throughout the world.

LC: Tell me about how ISSA supports the cleaning industry?

DW: ISSA recognizes that as the “Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association”, it our responsibility to represent the industry and develop tools and resources to help our members succeed. Many still immediately think of ISSA as a trade show company given the success of the ISSA/INTERCLEAN brand of shows. But the truth is that we are so much more and are extremely proud of the other benefits we provide members. Those range from education, training and certification programs to industry leading communication and media to industry benchmarking studies and tools that help our members promote the true value of the industry. And everything is based on our brand promise – to “change the way the world views cleaning.” Those of us who are in the industry understand that cleaning is properly viewed as an investment rather than a cost to be minimized but we need to deliver the message to those who make the decisions regarding setting specifications and cleaning budgets. After all, we are talking about an activity that has the potential to have a positive impact on human health, occupant productivity, sustainability, safety and facility asset preservation.

LC: What are the biggest industry changes you have seen in last 5-10 years?

DW: Well, in the supplier space, it all starts with dramatic changes in the makeup of the marketplace. We are witnessing a tremendous shrinkage of traditional “jan/san” suppliers while at the same time learning to deal with the introduction of new players, the so called disruptors. And these distruptors are forcing manufacturers and distributors to take a hard look at how they operate and the services they provide. It is simply no longer enough to try and offer the best price. Suppliers have to be prepared to serve their customers as true business partners, willing and capable of helping them on their core business. With regards to the service side of the industry, the pressure to do more with less continues to grow. Efficiency is the word of the day and service providers need to help customers understand the role they play in facility management excellence.

LC: What is the biggest challenge BSCs (Building Service Contractors) are having today?

DW: BSCs really need to explore ways to deliver a clean and healthy indoor environment while doing so at the lowest possible cost. While the number of customers who understand and appreciate that cleaning truly is an investment is growing thanks to the “true value of clean” message, the numbers of end users who will completely ignore cost is very limited. This is especially troublesome given that the industry is still littered with companies that do not operate as professionally as one would like and who may be willing to underbid accounts. So how do effectively managed companies who are capable of delivering a clean and healthy indoor environment in a cost effective manner set themselves apart in a crowded marketplace? How can they prove that they can be counted on when everyone says they are professional, including those who may not be?

LC: How can the BSCs approach that challenge?

DW: It certainly starts with the true value of clean message and helping customers understand the importance of making sure they receive a quality cleaning service. And then, once the customers “get it,” BSCs need to make sure they have the tools to demonstrate that they are a company that can deliver on their promises. Fortunately, there are programs that can help. BSCs can look for standards and third-party certification programs that enable them to prove that they are professional, customer-focused and committed to true excellence. For example, ISSA offers the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) and CIMS-Green Building program which sets forth management and operational best practices in six areas – quality systems, service delivery, human resources, health and safety, management commitment and green cleaning – and offers third party validation of excellence. BSCs should also partner with an experienced, reputable distributor who can help with product and equipment selection as well as provide training and additional support.

LC: What other advice can you offer?

DW: The entire industry truly needs to come together to spread the “value of clean” message.  We all need to be committed to professionalism and to making sure cleaning is viewed in the proper light – as a key, strategic component of facility operations and the most crucial piece of the healthy indoor environment puzzle. Cleaning has been viewed as a cost to be minimized and little more than a line item on a budget for far too long and it is up to us to change the perception to better meet reality. But we must also be prepared to live up to our promises and hold ourselves to the highest standards.

LC: What is the best way for people to contact you or ISSA?

DW: Give us a call or send us an e-mail. Why, we even still have a working fax machine! The bottom line is that we are here to help the industry and ready to provide assistance to our members. After all, it is our responsibility as the association that represents the cleaning industry. I can personally be reached at 800-225-4772 or and my ISSA teammates are ready to help as well.

For those in Florida, I’ll be at Dade Paper’s Innovations Expo on September 9th in Orlando. ISSA’s booth number is 246. We’ll be joining your staff, supplier partners and customers for what is sure to be a productive and enjoyable day!

LC: That’s right! For anyone interested in attending, visit for more details and online registration.

DW: Of course, everyone is also strongly encouraged to visit with ISSA at the annual ISSA/INTERCLEAN show which will be held this October 25-28 in Chicago. ISSA/INTERCLEAN is the undeniable can’t miss event of the year, featuring more than 60 education and training sessions, more than 700 exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations and unbeatable networking opportunities. Please visit to register! Trust me…you want to be there for all the show has to offer as well as to hopefully help cheer on the Cubs as they attempt to end their 108 year World Series championship drought!

LC: As a fellow Cubs fan, we can only hope that this year will put an end to the Curse of the Billy Goat! Thank you, Dan!




Expert Interview – Take-out Tips to Increase Restaurant Sales

Increased demand for meal delivery means big business for those restaurants that do it right! One often overlooked but critical aspect of a successful restaurant delivery or take-out program is the packaging. For this month’s Expert Interview I teamed up with Dade Paper Marketing Assistant, Kayley Holloway.  We spoke with Lynn Sosnowski, an Inside Sales Consultant with specialization in foodservice packaging. With almost 20 years of experience in helping customers source packaging for their restaurants and grocery stores, Lynn has a passion for finding the perfect solution every time. Lynn joined Dade Paper in early 2015 and currently serves customers in the Tri-State region.

LC: How big is the delivery and take-out market in the US?

LS: It is over $70 billion a year! And that number is expected to grow fueled by our “on-demand” culture. This includes food that is picked up by the customer, delivered by a restaurant employee and those orders that are placed via an online service and delivered by that same service.

KH: Delivery is really popular with Millennials, especially the online ordering services.

LS: That is correct. According to the National Restaurant Association, 80% of Millennials have meals delivered on a regular basis compared to 60% of other adult age groups.

LC: Why is packaging such an important element of a restaurant’s delivery and take-out program?

LS: Customers expect a restaurant-quality experience even if they are eating their meals at home or at their office. Operators will be much more successful in this competitive segment by investing in quality packaging and developing the right assembly process which protects the taste, temperature and appearance of their food. It only takes one bad experience for a customer to take their business elsewhere.

KH: What advice do you have for a restaurant manager that wants to improve their customers’ delivery or take-out experience?

LS:  This is what I recommend to my customers:

  • Separate hot and cold foods into their own containers to keep items at their proper temperature.
  • Choose your packaging based on your specific menu items. Use containers with various compartments to keep sides from mixing with entrées. Make sure your containers have a tight lid-fit to protect against leaking. Vented containers allow for steam to escape and help prevent food from becoming soggy. Microwavable containers are handy for customers who wish to reheat food.
  • Use the correct size container for each application. One size does not fit all! If the container is too large, the food will shift and could break apart. If the container is too small, the food will be crowded and will be prone to leak.
  • Choose the right ancillary items. Bags must allow for containers to stack neatly inside which will prevent tipping. The bags should also be the right weight and have sturdy handles that ensure safe carrying. Wrapped cutlery kits keep the cutlery and napkins sanitary. The correct soufflé cups will keep condiments, dressings and toppings intact.
  • Brand your packaging. By adding your logo to containers, bags, cups and napkins you reinforce your brand. Also include your phone number, website and social media information so customers can connect with you.

LC: Are there any other trends that should be considered?

LS:  Yes, consider environmentally-preferable packaging and supplies. Many customers are interested in sustainability and patronize like-minded establishments. However, there is a lot of confusion about what types of packaging items are truly more sustainable.

LC: Absolutely. One issue I often see is the use of compostable packaging where no composting facilities exist. If the packaging ends up in a landfill that “compostable” attribute is no longer advantageous.  Hopefully there will be more commercial composting facilities available in the future which would allow those items to be diverted from the landfill.

LS:  That is why I recommend choosing containers made from PETE, Resin ID Code 1.  That type of plastic is the most commonly recycled in both residential and commercial recycling programs. There are also containers made from recycled resin or recycled pulp material.

LS: In summary, an experienced supplier partner will be able to design a packaging program around a restaurant’s menu, brand image, budget and any other specific business requirements. That is what we do and why I enjoy my job so much. I have always felt pride and gratification in knowing that a customer’s needs have been satisfied and that they are happy with the end result.  I do not rest until that is accomplished.

Lynn is available to consult with restaurateurs about their take-out packaging program. She can be reached at


Expert Interview – Creating a Safety Culture

Safety matters! No matter the company size or industry, from hotels to office buildings, employers who show they care about the safety of their employees see improved morale, increased productivity, lower costs and, most importantly, fewer injuries. For this month’s Expert Interview I spoke to Ken Morris, Dade Paper’s Corporate Director of Safety. Ken has 30 years’ experience in workplace safety including positions as driver trainer, fleet manager and workplace safety consultant. In 2008 Ken joined Dade Paper and oversees all aspects of the company’s comprehensive safety program.

LC: Why is a formal safety program important for all businesses?

KM: Formal safety programs lay the ground work and set the basic directions for the workplace. Without them, there are no markers for the path. People often say that the OSHA standards or the Federal Motor Carrier regulations are all a company needs…after all they are the laws of the land, but they are only the bare minimum. In today’s workplace, we require more robust frameworks for a continually evolving work environment. Formal safety practices give stability to address changing needs of the workplace.

LC: What has changed over the last few years as far as safety programs?

KM: There has been huge shift in the philosophical view of safety in the workplace. In the past, safety has been perceived as a separate facet of the operation with different goals and agenda. Now safety is viewed as an integral part of the everyday process. Simply put, safety must be incorporated and managed just like any other part of our business.

LC: What changes do you see coming in the next few years?

KM: Technology, technology and more technology is an ongoing trend. Ninety-three percent of all accidents involve human error. The developing safety technologies work with humans to help identify hazards and prevent “mistakes” from happening and help mitigate the effects when an accident cannot be avoided. A good example of this is our current project with the company’s commercial motor vehicles. We are currently installing two high-tech devices in all of our trucks. The first device, called Mobileye, is basically an early-warning system that alerts our drivers to potentially dangerous traffic conditions, giving them time to avoid accidents. The second device, SmartDrive, is a video event recorder that is triggered by actions such as harsh braking, lane departures, following too closely and impacts. It records both the scene in front of the truck and the driver simultaneously. These recorded events are reviewed and used, if needed, to coach the driver much like a pro sport team reviewing game films. These two devices work together to protect our drivers and the public on the roadway. The ultimate goal is using technology to make a safer driver.

LC: What advice can you give a company that is creating a safety program for the first time?

KM: It is easy to put a safety program into writing, but much harder to make it work in the real world. You must have commitment from ALL levels to make it successful. Personal responsibility and accountability is hugely important and you must be consistent in the message you are sending your employees. Many workplace accidents occur when people are trying to get a job done quickly, or feel like there is pressure to produce, and they short-cut safety procedures. If this happens, the message was not understood or taken seriously. Safety is a basic function of all work and an integral part of everyday processes.

LC: What advice can you give a company that wants to improve their existing safety program?

KM: Safety in the workplace is daunting proposition. The risks are always evolving, so the safety program must be vigilant. Never assume that doing the same thing in regard to safety over the last 5, 10, or 15 years is enough. Always access the situations and be open to new ways of controlling risks.

LC: Any other thoughts on workplace safety?

KM: Safety is always a challenge. By definition, accidents are undesirable or unfortunate happenings that occurs unintentionally and usually result in harm, injury, damage, or loss. Our safety programs must try to anticipate the unintentional, control the undesirable and mitigate the unfortunate in a dynamic fast-paced and ever-changing work environment. We must create and nurture a SAFETY CULTURE. To do this, every person must practice safety as a routine function that takes precedence over every other task in the workplace. Every person, at every level, CANNOT accept anything less than safe work practices from every other person. That is what defines a safety culture. A safety culture in the workplace promotes personal responsibility for safety, and fosters, by its very nature a safe environment for everyone.

For helpful safety resources visit the National Safety Council’s website


Expert Interview – Warewashing for Shining Results

Foodservice and hospitality operators know the importance of warewashing, the process by which dishes, glassware, cutlery, and pots and pans are cleaned and sanitized. Not only is this process crucial to complying with health regulations, it also impacts the establishment’s customer satisfaction and reputation. For this month’s Expert Interview, I spoke to Terry Rogers, Chemical Sales Manager for Dade Paper. Terry has 40 years of experience in assisting foodservice operators with warewashing and other kitchen sanitation processes. He has been part of the Dade Paper team for 15 years.

LC:  Washing dishes seems like a pretty simple task. People do it every day at home. Why is this process more complicated for restaurants and other foodservice establishments?

TR: Warewashing, whether manual or automatic, is crucial to the sanitation of dishes and utensils which helps keep people healthy. Health Departments inspect foodservice operations on a regular basis and the warewashing process is part of those inspections. Three-compartment sinks, four-compartment in some states, are mandatory. Commercial dish washers are not required, but they are beneficial in that they provide labor savings and increase productivity. Both systems have strict guidelines that must be followed. Violations are costly and today they are made public.

LC: What are some of the challenges that operators have with this process?

TR: Space, or the lack of space, is a common challenge as is time during peak hours. Dishwashing staff may be tempted to rush through the process to keep up with the amount of dishes and other items they need to wash. But each step in the process is important and must be completed correctly to ensure everything not only looks clean, but is clean and sanitary.

The wash cycle requires time and detergent. The rinse cycle requires time and hot water, specifically 180 degrees or 160 degrees on the surface of the dish. Then the items must be sanitized in the proper parts-per-million solution to kill germs before drying.

Another common challenge is water spotting during the drying time. This has an impact on the patrons’ perception of cleanliness.

LC: I agree. If I see spots or even worse, lipstick residue, on a glass my opinion of that establishment is negatively affected.

TR: There is a fairly simple way to resolve this issue. A rinse additive can be used that allows the water to “sheet” off of the surfaces leaving spot-free results.

LC: If an operator invests in a commercial dish washer, does this eliminate the challenges you mentioned?

TR: A dish machine can be a good investment, especially for larger or busier establishments. The machine does complete the steps automatically but there are still proper procedures that must be followed. The correct chemicals must be used and the machine racks must be loaded properly. There are also procedures for handling and storage of the clean dishes to ensure they are ready for the next use. And, routine service is required to ensure the machine is operating according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Failure in just one area of operations can result in poor sanitation of the dishes.

LC: What advice can you offer an operator to help them better manage their warewashing program?

TR: Training is the key as well as reinforcement of that training by displaying multi-lingual wall-charts with pictograms. An experienced supplier partner will provide training to kitchen staff on the entire warewashing process, whether it is manual or automatic. The right type of equipment, the right chemicals, and the right steps in process must be explained. The supplier can help the kitchen manager select the best warewashing method and equipment based on volume, space, and other operational considerations. There are many options available today and one size does not fit all. If cost is a concern, there are equipment rental and leasing programs that are budget-friendly.

Also, if a dish machine is in use, having that machine properly maintained by a qualified technician is important as is the availability of emergency service. If the machine has a mechanical issue, the faster it is repaired the better.

If managed correctly, warewashing can become a smooth process allowing the operator to focus more time on their cuisine and delighting their guests.

Terry Rogers is available to consult with customers about warewashing program, equipment options and proper procedures. Terry can be reached at

Expert Interview – Chain Restaurant Challenges and Solutions

Americans love dining out. Sometimes it’s for a quick bite and other times it’s a leisurely meal with friends and family. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Pocket Factbook, restaurant industry sales are expected to grow to $782 billion in 2016. Many of the fastest growing restaurants are part of multi-unit operations, or chains, and they have unique challenges. For the March Expert Interview I spoke with Andrew Paton, Dade Paper’s Director of National Accounts. Andrew has 15 years of experience working with restaurants, including chain headquarters, helping them improve operations.

LC: You have been working closely with multi-location restaurant operators for many years. What is one big change you have seen recently?

AP: There has been a surge in new fast-casual concepts that focus on fresh and natural food served fast with a focus on the lunch crowd. These QSR-Plus concepts often start locally and then, when successful, expand nationally. The elevated “fast food” menus appeal to today’s diners who are looking for a good meal, on the go, at reasonable prices.

LC: What are the current challenges for these QSR-Plus restaurants?

AP: Uniformity across franchised locations can be challenging. It is important that their branding remain consistent regardless if the store is in New York or Miami. For example, it can be difficult to ensure that each location is able to buy the same products at the same prices throughout the franchise concept. This is where a multi-location supply chain program can help. An experienced distribution partner can facilitate the entire process beginning with sourcing and inventory management of branded items and all the way through to store-door delivery and management reporting.

Food safety is another current hot topic. Good news travels fast but bad news travels faster. In the age of the internet one bad health inspection or outbreak could give a franchise concept a black eye system wide. My advice is to create a food safety audit for franchisees to utilize on a weekly basis. Keep it simple. You don’t need fifty cleaning chemicals to get the job done. Again, use the knowledge of an experienced distributor partner. They can help create an inexpensive and effective cleaning protocol for new and existing franchisees to follow.

LC: What are current opportunities for these companies?

AP: Focusing on catering is great strategy for organic growth in sales. A small investment in good quality catering packaging and promotion of a catering menu to current customers can have a positive result on the bottom line. Every type of restaurant, from pizzerias to BBQ restaurants, has the capacity to offer a catering menu. The opportunity is there and at little risk.

LC: What additional advice can you share?

AP: Separate takeout/delivery packaging from your left-over packaging. Customers appreciate the value of good quality takeout packaging that keeps the food looking and tasting great. How many times have you spent $50 or more on takeout or delivered meals for your family only to open it and find wet, soggy food in a leaky container that was delivered in a thin plastic “thank you” bag. It is not very appetizing! Bottom line is that the right packaging can make a huge difference in customer satisfaction resulting in repeat business.

If cost is a concern, find one inexpensive container that is used only for dine-in customers’ leftovers and make the investment in takeout packaging to increase sales.

LC: What trend should restaurant operators consider now?

AP: Environmentally-preferable packaging is becoming more and more prevalent. Years ago, when the green movement was catching on, the products were limited and very costly. Over the years they have become more affordable and there are an increasing number of options. Recycled and recyclable packaging are popular and in some instances compostable packaging is a great fit. Depending on the situation and the type of food there are a variety of solutions.

Andrew and his team of restaurant-segment managers are available to consult with businesses about improving restaurant operations through both packaging and sanitation products and procedures. Andrew can be reached at


Expert Interview – Supply Chain Efficiencies

This month I spoke with Bert Jorge, Dade Paper’s Director of Redistribution and Export Sales. Bert has over 30 years of experience in supply chain management and has worked for regional and national redistribution companies that sell foodservice and janitorial supplies. Bert joined Dade Paper in 2006 and has been instrumental in the company’s success and growth as a leading redistribution organization.

LC: Please explain the term “redistribution.”

BJ: Redistribution is a logistics model that takes place when a manufacturer sells large quantities of their products to Distributor A, in this case the “redistributor”, who then sells those products to the smaller Distributor B who in turn sells to an end user.

LC: How does adding an extra step in the supply chain provide value?

BJ: Redistribution provides benefits to everyone in the supply chain including manufacturers, distributors and ultimately the end users.

Manufacturers benefit by being able to penetrate new markets via a redistributor who has extensive geographic coverage. They can ship full truckloads into a given market rather than multiple, small shipments which saves both operational and freight costs.

The smaller distributors benefit by gaining access to a broad range of products from many manufacturers. It is more efficient to consolidate their ordering from one source, the redistributor. This eliminates the need to meet high minimum orders from the manufacturers and helps maximize inventory turns. All of these advantages lead to reduced costs and allow smaller distributors to offer competitively priced goods to the end users.

Here are a couple of illustrations that may help demonstrate the concept:

Without Redi


With redi

LC: I see how this model works, especially for distributors that sell thousands of different products which is common in the foodservice and janitorial supply industry.

BJ: Yes, the financial implications based on inventory turns alone make the business model work.

LC: What changes have you seen in this industry over the last few years?

BJ:  Consolidation, mergers and acquisitions have been prevalent in our industry at the manufacturer, redistribution, distribution and end user levels. Another big change has been the increase in online sales from traditional and non-traditional distributors in the supply chain.

LC: How has that impacted the marketplace?

BJ: The small to medium size distributors are experiencing more difficulties in this new era of larger players along with online competition. But this landscape reinforces the value of redistribution. Change is always challenging, but change also creates opportunities for the companies that stay current with trends and are equipped to take advantage of the shifts in the marketplace.

And, as in many industries, margins are squeezed forcing companies to be more efficient and cut costs where possible.

LC: What advice can you offer?

BJ: Some redistributors and distributors have chosen to reduce costs by downsizing their sales force. However, this leaves a void in providing the consultative services needed, especially in the janitorial segment when we’re dealing with chemicals and machinery.

Online purchasing offers convenience and efficiency but without qualified people to answer questions and help customers solve problems, the end users may end up with products that do not work. To take cost out of doing business at the expense of not providing the required level of professional service, I believe, is a mistake. Blending technology and efficient operations along with excellent customer service is the key. It is not easy, but when done correctly everyone benefits.

 Bert and his team of redistribution experts are available to consult with companies on the benefits of this unique supply chain model. He can be reached at