www.southwestfoodservice.com | December 2022 - January 2023

Major Products Named 2017 IFDA Partner of the Year

Last month Major Products was named the 2017 International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) Partner of the Year after receiving the highest cumulative score in an annual survey conducted with IFDA distributor members. Major Products was founded in 1951 and manufactures soup bases, gravies, marinades, and seasonings in a variety of flavors and formats. The company is currently under its third generation of leadership, which includes Dan DeRose III, president, and his sister Valerie DeRose Leimer, chief operating officer.

In the survey, IFDA members rated foodservice manufacturer efforts on collaboration, product innovation, sales and marketing support, and other issues critical to the success of distributors. Major Products received the highest cumulative score in four of the five criteria as well as the final overall results. The 51 manufacturers graded in the survey participated as IFDA Partners in 2016.

"It is a great honor to be recognized by IFDA's distributor members as their Partner of the Year, and even more humbling to know that this recognition comes by a vote of our industry colleagues," said Dan DeRose, president of Major Products.  "Our family business mindset is rooted in forging true partner relationships with our customers and always looking after their needs first and foremost."

"We know this award would not be possible if it was not for the hard work and dedication of the full Major Products team and we look forward to sharing this with them," said COO Valerie DeRose Leimer.

At the reception (left to right): IFDA's Mark Allen, Major Products' Chef Chris Enright, Chef Jim Villemaire, Dan DeRose, Valerie Derose Leimer, Scott Smolar, Susan DeRose, Dot Foods John Tracy (IFDA Vice Chairman), and Major Products Chef James Bell.

In brief, the five criteria look to measure whether a manufacturer:

  1. Engages as a strategic partner with distributor customers,
  2. Has a progressive approach to the supply chain,
  3. Has a strong commitment to local sales and marketing support,
  4. Has a clear focus on product innovation, and
  5. Consistently works to address issues critical to the success of the distribution industry.

IFDA Member Pocono ProFoods Shares Insights

Kevin Cramer, vice president of procurement at Pocono ProFoods, gave Major Products his highest marks for their focus on product innovation and their commitment to local sales and marketing support.

"Major Products is very much engaged with us in planning and providing strong sales support," said Cramer in an interview. "From the top down, you can reach out to anyone at the company with a situation that you need to review. They are talking to us about what the trends are, and they are working with our culinary team. While we have a regional representative, we're also talking on a regular basis with their national representative and with the owners."

In one case, Cramer said a high-volume independent restaurant customer requested a tailor-made item. "Major Products actually did a custom blend for us that has been very successful. We reached out directly to Valerie DeRose and she had her people in culinary work on it right away. Within a couple weeks we had a brand new product to that customer," said Cramer.

Criteria 1 of the survey asks distributors if a manufacturer engages "as a strategic partner with my business." That includes not having a "one-size-fits-all" approach to distribution, operating with integrity, protecting proprietary information, and other considerations. Pocono rated Major Products very highly in this area.

"You can tell they care about our business," said Cramer. "They engage not only with our purchasing staff, but also our culinary staff and our sales staff. I think every DSR and every district manager within our company know and have worked with their people. When we initiated a couple of new programs with them, they came in to do a sales blitz on the road with our customers. I think we did that for about a month where they were here a couple days a week," said Cramer.

In conclusion, Cramer said that Pocono and Major Products have an excellent relationship.

"You know, it feels like maybe we overuse the word 'partner' sometimes within the industry, but I really feel like Major Products are true partners, and we are focused on the same things — the customer. Our company is also focused on having every associate at Pocono being a foodie, and I think that's the type of company that Major Products is as well," said Cramer.

Reflecting on the award, Major Products Vice President of Sales and Marketing Scott Smolar said: "There are many great suppliers within IFDA who are deserving of the Partner of the Year award. We are sincerely honored and thankful to be voted as the recipient for 2017."

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