September 1, 2005
Solving Your Customers’ Nightmares
What keeps you awake at night? For 23 years, Rich Products has been asking its customers that question at division roundtable meetings.
“We’ll get a group of customers together, and we’ll spend two or three days talking in-depth about what keeps people awake at night, then we work at solving those issues,” notes Kevin Malchoff, group president of Rich Products’ U.S./Canada business. “It could be product related. It could be service related.”
Involved in the meetings are the company’s top officials, including Robert E. Rich, chairman and founder; Robert E. Rich, Jr., president; William G. Gisel, Jr., chief operating officer; Melinda Rich, executive vice president of innovation; and Malchoff.
“For the Rich family and senior management, to invest that kind of time is unique in our industry,” Malchoff says. “Rich’s truly cares about hearing what the customer has to say, and it’s built right into our plans.”
So what keeps folks in the in-store bakery, deli and foodservice channel awake these days? Food safety is a top priority. Labor comes in a close second.
“It’s getting tougher for foodservice’s back of the house as well as in the in-store bakery to find skilled labor,” Malchoff explains. “As manufacturers, we’ve got to make products that are easier to prepare, and yet meet the consumers number one demand, which is quality. That’s the balance.
“Probably everyone would wish you could just take products out of the box and put them on the plate,” he adds. “The reality is that things that come out of the box and are put on the plate need some additional labor put in to make them taste great. What we want to do is make it easy for labor, whether it’s foodservice or in-store bakery, to deliver great-tasting products.”