For a business to remain truly relevant over the long haul, it must continue to add value to all of the customers its serves.

JimZink-RVJim Zink, Managing Partner Zink Foodservice GroupPeople often like to say, when doing business in today’s foodservice industry, that “it all comes down to relationships”. Yes, it’s true, people want to do business with individuals they know, trust and who demonstrate a working knowledge of their organization. In other words, you enter into a business relationship with an individual or an organization because they bring value to the table.

For a business to remain truly relevant over the long haul, it must continue to add value to all of the customers its serves. Value equates to more than simply selling a product for a price and it encompasses more than simply honoring your commitments. Providing value in today’s foodservice industry means you not only need to operate in the now, you also have to have an eye cast toward the future, always exploring ways to be more effective and efficient. Because if you don’t provide and quantify the value your firm delivers, someone else will do it for you. Further, the way you provide value today has to change and evolve over time, just as your customers will.

Nowhere is that scenario more relevant than in the manufacturers’ rep community. Just like other areas of the supply chain, our fragmented space is ripe for consolidation. In fact, several national rep consolidators are already very active in the market, and many rep firms, like ours, are seeking a more collaborative solution to better serve our customers.

After several years of discussion and exploration, Zink Foodservice, The Redstone Group and Kain-McArthur recently announced a strategic alliance called Paradigm. We have known these other firms for more than 20 years and we share a common culture in how we approach the market and support our customers, factories and team members. While the current three member companies remain independent, our shared focus is to proactively prepare our businesses to continue to exceed our manufacturers’ and channel partners’ expectations — now and in the future consolidated state of the industry.

Collectively, we will investigate sharing resources across a variety of areas such as marketing outreach programs, sales training, leadership development, culinary support, information technology platforms, etc. These sales-driving initiatives become possible and more effective with scale. We will also develop best practices to help raise the overall professionalism and effectiveness of our individual sales forces.

Our reason for forming this alliance is simple: change in the rep side of the foodservice industry is in the wind and we want to be ahead of it, participating in it to help our existing relationships continue to flourish and to be prepared to support them in the future. In essence, this is about exploring ways to better serve our customers and continuing to bring value to the table.