Legacy Foodservice Alliance was formed in September of 2009 with the promise to establish and carry out a “different way of doing business.”
Looking back on its first two years, CEO Steve Push says, “It’s remarkable. We had a vision for a distributor procurement, marketing, and services group that would retain the personal touch with its members and would be run in a transparent way, with members involved in strategy and decision making. We’ve succeeded at realizing that goal.”
The Legacy vision is founded on values that the group sums up as “Y” words: they answer the question “why” and end in the letter “y.” These values are accountability, dependability, reliability, intimacy, transparency, and simplicity.
“The Y Legacy words not only answer the questions for why the group was created, they provide a promise for the future operation of the organization,” says Mike Essaf, general manager of Cedar Farms in Philadelphia. “It’s been an exciting venture for Cedar Farms to be part of this new vision and to be able to help shape it.”
Cedar Farms was the first Legacy distributor member.
The Legacy team is dedicated to supporting independent distributors in their competitive battle with national or corporate companies. They also represent their distributor members in negotiating programs and securing manufacturer support.
In its first year, Legacy hosted a Celebration of Independents in Philadelphia. Members signed a Declaration of Independents, modeled on the country’s original document, which states the organization’s support of independents and partnership with its supplier members.
From the beginning, Legacy has sought to limit the number of supplier member participants, preferring to provide greater value for fewer suppliers.
“Commitment is important, and we value the commitment shown to our company by the distributor members,” says a Legacy supplier. “The smaller number of approved suppliers in each category helps up maximize our resources and return on investment and gives all of us greater opportunity succeed.”
The supplier group presently numbers 275.
The Alliance also provides DSR (distributor sales rep) training in a program called StreetWise. The program focuses on product training through supplier-produced or -provided videos.
“StreetWise enables us to deliver high quality educational tips 24/7 to a diverse and widespread sales team via desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone,” explains director of marketing Cindy Hulett. “We call it ‘continuing education meets You Tube.’”
The Alliance is primarily focused on marketing manufacturer branded products, but also recognized early on the need to have some products available under a proprietary brand.
Currently, 15 manufacturers produce approximately 150 SKUs (stock keeping units) under the group’s Misty River Brand.
Legacy announced its first distributor members in December 2009. Just 25 months later, the group passed a major milestone.
With the recent announcement of a trio of new members, including Zakky Foods, Inc., aka Hauppauge Provisions Company, located in Islandia, New York; Platinum Distribution, Inc., in Ontario, California, Legacy’s fourth location in California; and Wohrle’s Foods, Inc. in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the group exceeded all growth objectives for last year. Wohrle’s has the distinction of being Legacy’s 80th distributor member location.
“Legacy’s success is derived from being good listeners,” Push says. “From the beginning, we knew we had a good idea, and we asked both potential supplier and distributor members how we could make it the best.
“The input we received in the early months enabled us to refine the idea into a model that would be easily understood and would be a winner for the participants. It’s been an exciting couple of years, but we’re just seeing and understanding what we can become. That’s really exciting.”