Food Supplies Company Inc.

Celebrating 20 Years of Supplying Solutions
Written by: 
Camila Osorno
Produced by: 
Victor Martins

Stephen Clark and Ian MacIntosh established Food Supplies Company Inc. (Food Supplies) in 1993, bringing a renewed emphasis on quality service, quality products and innovation to food processing, food retail and foodservice marketplaces across Canada. Today, clients in each industry segment look to the Food Supplies team for comprehensive support that builds value and maximizes profits by providing exceptional food ingredients, tailored merchandising solutions and a complete portfolio of industry supply needs.

A strong product selection remains secondary only to personalized service and a shared sense of accountability. The Food Supplies team focuses its combined energies on mobilizing a wide variety of resources to ensure the success of its customers. These customers represent a broad cross-section of the food-industry landscape, from single owner-managed butcher shops, pizza shops and restaurants to national food chains and food processors; but one thing all partners of Food Supplies have in common is the company’s promise of uncompromised standards, hands-on attention, consistent product and service quality.

“We pride ourselves in really learning our customers’ businesses,” explains Stephen Clark, president and CEO of Food Supplies. “After all, we shop in their stores and we eat their products, so we know the challenges they face in enticing people to purchase from them. We have a considerable stake in all of our customers’ successes, and we do everything we possibly can to ensure our solutions address every customer’s unique needs.”

Food Supplies has office and warehousing facilities just north of Toronto in Concord, Ontario, and in Langley, British Columbia, as well as a facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company’s strategically placed regional offices allow Food Supplies service footprint to extend from coast to coast. “It is kind of like the locally grown sensibility driving the food industry today, as we are locally and nationally focused,” says Clark. “It helps us to understand regional needs, as well as global trends, and provides us with a broad understanding of best practices and product successes. Our Canadian heritage motivates us all and drives the company’s efforts to be the best it can be. We are committed to continuous improvement.”

The company stocks and supplies a variety of exceptional seasonings, breading, food ingredients, merchandising fixtures, foodservice equipment, professional tools and supplies to keep food processors, food retailers and foodservice clients well-equipped to produce, merchandise and sell the most delicious products possible. Food Supplies works with a network of preferred partners with a global reach. One such partner (a former employer of Clark and many of his staff) is Griffith Laboratories. Griffith has been an exceptional ingredient partner, utilizing its many resources to develop the “right products for the right time,” says Clark.

Food Supplies stocks a number of casings, binders and cures guaranteed to produce uniformly delicious sausages; cooked, seasoned and smoked meats; vegetables and various protein sources. Griffith provides substantial expertise in solution management and flavour trends – so fundamental to product success. They provide the highest quality blends and ingredients, which the Food Supplies staff knowledgeably combines with current culinary trends.

Commercial culinary wizards across the country rely upon Food Supplies for the essential tools of the trade. Food Supplies’ product selection ranges from simple items, such as whisks and bowls, to the newest equipment offerings, such as sous-vide cooking and dependable vacuum sealers. “We’re also proud to have successfully represented the entire Friedr. Dick line of professional cutlery for over 20 years,” adds Clark. The Friedr. Dick Company is a rapidly growing brand that has produced world-class professional cutlery, butchering tools, sharpening steels and grinders in Germany since 1778.

Constantly Reinforcing Capabilities

Food Supplies is dedicated to making a continuous effort to enrich its offerings. In fact, Food Supplies is marking its 20-year anniversary (March 15, 2013) in part with the purchase of another Canadian “family business,” which manufactures merchandising products. This will allow the company to reinforce its commitment to the customers who helped it achieve its two-decade milestone. “It’s exciting for us, not just because we are launching those products in conjunction with our anniversary, but because it fills a defined need for most of our customers and because we pride ourselves in being truly Canadian,” admits Clark.

As the company’s product selection continues to expand, Food Supplies works hard to ensure customers are provided exactly what they need. To guarantee this, the company’s customer service and sales professionals display a deeply entrenched sense of personal and professional integrity. As Clark sees it, “Food Supplies looks for those who approach a sale as an opportunity to provide a solution – not just an opportunity to sell products.” More importantly, Food Supplies draws on its considerable knowledge in the industry to implement its unique process of Custom Idea Generation (CIG), a process that takes into account a customer’s specific needs, ensuring success.

“People always ask what our secret ingredient is,” says Clark. “The strength of our company is a direct reflection of the strengths of our people. I have always believed that I am only as good as the people that surround me. Our staff, along with great world-class customers, fabulous business partners, and a lot of luck is the magic that helps us grow. These are our very special ingredients!”

And the proof lies in the pudding of Food Supplies’ extensive feedback system. When Ian McIntosh retired in the early 2000s, Clark decided to conduct an extensive survey to assess the company’s position in the marketplace in order to identify areas of improvement. A consultant conducted a customer service survey amongst a diverse cross section of Food Supplies’ retail grocery clients, food processors and foodservice customers. The outcome surprised even Clark. “The results showed a 96-percent customer service satisfaction rating; that proved to be the second highest rating ever received by the survey company’s 40-year history,” remarks Clark.

Raising the Bar

Still, neither Clark nor the Food Supplies team took the results as an indication the company could rest comfortably on its laurels. Instead, Food Supplies decided to double up its efforts to close in on the remaining four percent and worked hard to develop its business based upon the overwhelming response to the survey, which clearly defined Food Supplies’ unique selling proposition. “We have a tremendous collective of intellectual equity in our company, which we use to determine best solutions, best practices and best products for our customers,” says Clark.
With many successes over its 20-year history, Food Supplies is proudest when they “hit one out of the park,” introducing a game changer for industry. Recognizing the need to reduce costs for our customers, the company developed a landmark cost-savings initiative in “Simply Sharp,” resulting in millions of dollars in savings for customers. Clark says, “The current tally for savings for those customers that went forward with us is over the $10 million mark and still growing.”

Simply put, Simply Sharp took an antiquated business model of renting knives in kitchens, stores and processing plants and viewed it differently. For years the supply chain from and to these customers centralized the processing of meats, thereby changing the business needs throughout the supply chain. “In simple terms, our customers have been renting knives in the same manner as 30 years ago and at higher prices, ignoring the change in knife requirements brought on by a consolidated and centralized meat-cutting that reduced their needs at retail,” says Clark.

Food Supplies then built the Simply Sharp program to offer the optimum tools, equipment, standards and knives with the best manufacturing and performance standards available to industry. Since its introduction, this program has most certainly “changed the game” with acceptance across Canada in all industries. “In fact, we are now shipping our products to foodservice operators in South America,” says Clark.

More recently, Food Supplies looked internally to deliver a new gluten-free family of products that promises to make waves in the food marketplace. Beyond day-to-day business, Food Supplies also continues its support of the culinary arts in 2012 by sponsoring Culinary Team Canada, winners of the 2012 Gold Medal at the Canadian Culinary Federation’s World Culinary Olympics. “This is our third time sponsoring the team,” adds Clark. “We strive to support and give back to the communities we serve and for us; it’s just the right decision.”

Furthermore, the Food Supplies team remains optimistic about the next few years, as it turns the corner into its 21st year. After all, the company was born during similarly trying economic times, and Food Supplies understands how to manage costs while still delivering magic creations. Whatever lies in store, the personal commitment, professionalism, integrity and Canadian pride of everyone at Food Supplies Company Inc. will ensure the company remains the country’s premier source for food-industry solutions.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
F. Marie Ltd
Fuller Landau LLP
Griffith Laboratories Ltd
Rabco Foodservice
The Sample Dome
zeckoSoftware, by Terracor Business Solutions