For 70 years, the name of Peirone has been synonymous with high-quality fresh produce in the Inland Northwest, and Peirone Produce continues to serve its supermarket customers with the best produce available as well as the best industry practices anywhere in the industry. President and CEO Mike Kamphaus says one of the primary reasons for the company’s longevity and success has been its concentration on the supermarket industry, rather than splitting its attention between that customer base and other types of customers like foodservice or institutions. That gives Peirone Produce a clearer understanding of how it can best serve its customers and gear its processes to supermarkets’ specific needs.

Many businesses view their distributor as merely a product provider. But New York-based Hill & Markes Inc. believes safety is its true mission. “We would consider ourselves a health and wellness company,” Vice President of Operations Jason Packer says.

Hill & Markes is a wholesale distributor of foodservice, industrial packaging, janitorial, office and healthcare products. Its commitment to wholesome food products, safety equipment and waster-based cleaners is just part of the company’s 110-year evolution from an ice cream distributor to a diverse supplier. At one point, the company even sold tobacco and candy products, but CEO Neal Packer and his wife, Vice President of Marketing Andrea Packer, decided to exit those markets in the 1970s because it didn’t fit their vision for sustainable, healthy products.

Since its inception in 1990, Cutter & Buck has been proud to wear its Pacific Northwest heritage on its sleeve. The company’s outerwear and golf apparel have become known for how well it suited the wildly different conditions of the region while embodying the region’s unique blend of tradition and progressiveness. 

Although Cutter & Buck has been and forever will be rooted in the Pacific Northwest, the strength of its distribution operations today comes from the company’s ability to deliver branded apparel virtually anywhere in North America quickly, and CEO Joel Freet says this is a major part of the reason why Cutter & Buck has become a leader in modern classic apparel and a global lifestyle brand. “Our distribution is our greatest strength,” Freet says. 

As a member-owned business, grocery wholesaler Associated Food Stores operates as a cooperative. With no stockholders, the company is free to prioritize the needs of its customers. “I’m most proud about what we as a company do for the independent grocery store operator,” Vice President Bob Obray says. “Everything we do is for the benefit of our member-owners.”

For the past 75 years, Utah-based Associated Food Stores’ mission has been to strengthen and support its independent members. The wholesaler now services nearly 500 stores, including 42 corporate-owned locations that are part of Associated Retail Operations, a subsidiary company. Associated Food Stores’ independent members are found in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. The average store is 40,000 square feet, but Obray says its members range in size from as small as 5,000 square feet up to 80,000.

Fred Crosetto founded AMMEX Corp. in 1988, selling disposable gloves from the back of a borrowed van. His business started in the dental market due to the demand from professionals seeking protection from the HIV virus, says President Keyo Gold.

Crosetto, a 24-year-old law student, quickly recognized the need for industrial barrier protection and infectious control products. He built the company from a first month’s sales of 50 cases into a multinational corporation with offices in the United States, Philippines, China and Malaysia.

The Seattle-based company has come a long way since its inception to become a leading importer and distributor of high-quality disposable gloves and barrier-protection products to numerous industries. “Ninety percent of what we do is disposable gloves,” Gold says.

Superior Plus Energy Services regards customers as friends, President and CEO Keith Wrisley says. “We have a culture that is focused on how we serve the customers and how the customers want us to serve them,” he says. 

Based in Rochester, N.Y., Superior Plus Energy Services (SPES) provides energy products and services to homes, farms and businesses in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The company’s history, Wrisley notes, goes back to 2009, when Superior Plus Canada, a Toronto-based provider of propane, specialty chemicals and construction products, wanted to enter the U.S. market.

For 65 years, Piedmont National has been meeting the needs of its customers for packaging and shipping materials and equipment. It has been operating out of its Atlanta headquarters building since 1967, and it needs to be updated. “We’re in the midst of a huge renovation project to our Atlanta offices,” President and COO Gary Marx says. “We’ve got three buildings here, and one building has just been completed, and the other two are being worked on.”

These renovations will enable Piedmont National to serve its customers more efficiently, many of whom are large manufacturers and distributors, some in the food and medical industries. “It’s about a $2 million project between the building renovations and we’ve ordered all-new furniture,” Marx says. “We have taken this building down to the concrete, and we’re just starting over. We’re leaving the outside footprint the same but gutting the entire interior. The only things that will stay the same are the roof and the slab. We just did that to the building across the street.”

Mooney-General Paper Co. knows its customers have plenty of sources for the products it carries, including national e-commerce giants or big-box stores. But while its competitors may have several of the same products, Mooney-General offers personalized expertise, which enables it to provide custom solutions tailored to the specific needs of its customers. This promotes efficiency and increased profitability for their customers.

“You can go online and order a product, but the website you’re ordering from probably won’t know the specifics of the product or how to best use it,” says Andrea Ribakove, the company’s vice president, board chairwoman and majority owner. 

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