Engineers of Excellence

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Engineers of Excellence


When it comes to bringing products to market and getting them to sell, retailers need to know that their supplier partners have their backs — and are willing to put some skin in the game to help them in a number of areas. Store Brands asked the retailer community to let us know which suppliers truly go beyond the call of duty in nine important achievement categories. Based on those nominations and our own research, we determined the suppliers that truly deserve recognition in our fifth annual Supplier Pacesetter Awards program. Read on to learn more about these engineers of store brand excellence.


Quality Assurance/Quality Control

Giovanni Food Company Inc.

One of the last things a retailer wants to worry about when bringing store brand products to market is the possibility of a recall. Therefore, it’s extremely important that store brand manufacturers are certified to produce products safely and efficiently.

Giovanni Food Company Inc., A Syracuse, N.Y.-based manufacturer of store brand tomato sauce, salsa, bruschetta and other tomato products, strives for quality and consistency in all of the products it manufactures for customers across the globe by constantly adding new certifications. Some of those certifications are Non-GMO Project Verification, QAI Organic Certification, NSF Gluten-Free Certification and OU Kosher.

“We feel that these certifications, done by recognized third-party organizations, help bring our level of service to a standard that is best in class,” says Tammy Panipinto, director of business development. Giovanni Food Company.

Giovanni Food Company has continuous improvement plans in place and constantly reviews opportunities to improve its systems in an effort to exceed its quality standards, Panipinto adds.

“We have an enterprise-level ERP system that has helped us to streamline some of the processes, helping to ensure high-level quality assurance procedures,” she states.

Panipinto notes that receiving a Supplier Pacesetter Award for its QA/QC processes means a great deal to Giovanni Food Company, as manufacturing safe and quality products is part of its mission statement.

“Receiving this award confirms that we are meeting the needs of our customers and allows us to continue to take steps to help more retailers and contract manufacturing customers with the tomato-based products that they need,” she says.

Partnership Relationship with Retailers

Leclerc Group

According to Frédéric Langlois, senior vice president, private label sales, innovation, R&D, marketing and communications with Leclerc Group Inc., true innovation comes through taking risks. And if retailers don’t take those risks, they “will be beaten.”

Understanding this, Leclerc, a Saint Augustin de Desmaures, Quebec-based manufacturer of cookies, snack bars and crackers for store brand programs, prides itself on having a very in-depth knowledge of the categories it serves — and offers custom innovations to its retailer partners without imposing unachievable minimum production runs.

“We are willing to take chances with our customers on innovative ideas at the risk of failing to make sure we ‘surf the trend wave’ [rather than] try and catch up to it,” he states.

Langlois says he is proud of Leclerc’s speed to market with innovative products, as trends are evolving faster than ever. This “rapidity of execution from concept to actual production” is what sets his company apart from the competition.

And the company will continue striving to differentiate itself from the competition, Langlois points out. To stay at the top, it will continue to hone its research and development capabilities and understanding of the ever-changing market, develop adapted programs for each of its retailer partners, and work to improve manufacturing flexibility and efficiency. It also will strive to keep quality standards as high as possible, thereby protecting its retailer partners’ brand reputation. Currently, the company is the only manufacturer in its categories with an A+ rating from GFSI for unannounced manufacturing facility audits.

Merchandising/Marketing Support for Store Brand Products

Perrigo Company PLC

No matter how innovative a product is, if it isn’t given the proper promotional attention, its chances of selling well are slim. And because store brand manufacturers are experts on the categories in which they operate, it makes sense for retailers to partner with them for promotional support.

Perrigo Company PLC, Allegan, Mich., is known for its private label over-the-counter (OTC) medications, infant formulas, nutritional products and dietary supplements. It also is known for developing custom campaigns to promote these products for its retailer partners.

“Our sales and marketing teams lead best-in-class in-store merchandising,” says Scott Jamison, general manager and executive vice president, Perrigo Nutritionals. “From packaging design, stocking recommendations and shelf signage to end-cap displays and circular ads, Perrigo is committed to helping its customers achieve excellence by presenting store brands to consumers that drive purchasing.

Beyond brick and mortar, Jamison notes, Perrigo offers an array of digital marketing support for its partners. Services include web design and development, search and social media marketing support, digital coupons and other online programs. One campaign using the services, launched in may 2013, relied heavily on social media (including a Facebook page, Youtube channel and website) to spread the word regarding misperceptions about store brand OTC products. Another similar campaign focused on educating parents about store brand baby formula.

“To effectively compete in the retail marketplace against national brands, it is critical that retailers have marketing programs that creatively and positively position their brand to the consumer,” says Jeff Needham, executive vice president and general manager, U.S. consumer healthcare, Perrigo. “Perrigo tries hard to provide retailers with store brand marketing programs that are every bit as good [as] — if not better than — national brand marketing and merchandising programs. We invest a lot of human and financial capital into this part of the business.”

Needham notes that he is proud of the reputation Perrigo has built over the years as a partner that not only delivers quality products and services, but also drives revenue for store brands.

“The overall consumer market share growth that we’ve experienced during recent years has provided some confirmation that our initiatives and efforts have been effective,” he states.

R&D/Concept Development/Product Innovation

The Perfect Bite Co.

From Spinach & Red Pepper Crustless Quiche minis to Caramelized Onion & Gorgonzola Mini Burgers, every product from The Perfect Bite is unique and delectable, showcasing the company’s dedication to creating products that truly differentiate a retailer’s own-brand program.

“The Perfect Bite Co. prides itself on being an innovative and nimble solution to the industry,” says Teri Valentine, president and CEO of the Glendale, Calif.-based manufacturer of private label frozen appetizers, entrées, desserts, sides and more. “Our buyers constantly challenge us with bringing new product lines to them — and usually very quickly”

Buyers truly value the company’s expertise in many different categories, Valentine adds. When asked to bring a “huge selection” of products and ideas to retailer meetings, buyers often are relieved to see the breadth of solutions laid on the table — and discover how quickly those solutions can be brought to market.

“Large companies can take years to develop a new product,” she explains. “So we shine in the creative and delicious department.”

And though the company has already established itself as a truly creative force in the world of own-brand frozen appetizers, it never rests on its laurels. Valentine promises that her company will continue to put an emphasis on presenting innovative products to retailers — and will continue traveling the world to develop new flavors that translate into successful products at retail.

“It is very validating to see that our commitment to be different than the industry is being noticed,” she states. “We love good food, and it is so gratifying to see it on store shelves. Even better to see that consumers are buying it!”

Packaging Innovation

Galileo Global Branding Group

Having successfully created and launched brands on six different continents, Galileo Global Branding Group — a division of Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon Worldwide — is a company that truly sees the big picture when it comes to package design and branding. Glenn Pfeiffer, Galileo’s executive creative director, notes that his company offers clients a “truly global perspective” to better inform branding efforts.

“[We bring] valuable insights to guide our clients in strategically positioning their brands from … initial launch through [their] various life stages,” he notes. “Being a part of the Daymon Worldwide global network of retail industry experts also allows us to leverage the latest consumer-relevant data, insights and industry knowhow better than anyone else in our space.”

And according to Pfeiffer, the company — which has existed for more than three decades — is bigger and more powerful than ever before, as it continues to expand its presence around the world.

“In fact, Galileo’s office in Lisbon, Portugal, has been winning new business locally, as well as in Africa and the Middle East,” he explains. “We also are considering establishing an agency branch in China within the next year.”

And back home in Stamford, it is engaging “in many exciting custom research projects for both new and existing clients,” Pfeiffer notes.

Environmentally Responsible Manufacturing Practices

Musco Family Olive Co.

Today, many companies are working to make their manufacturing processes as eco-friendly as possible. So what sets Tracy, Calif.-based Musco Family Olive Co. — a four-time consecutive recipient of the Supplier Pacesetter Award in the Environmentally Responsible Manufacturing Practices category — apart from the competition?

“Our sustainability initiatives are driven internally — straight from the top by Musco’s CEO, Felix Musco,” says Dan Kelly, Musco Family Olive’s vice president of sales. “Many other companies’ sustainability initiatives are driven by external factors.”

According to Kelly, the company is not afraid to take risks by “trying something new and innovative.” For example, Musco Family Olive is the only olive cannery that does not discharge process water from its property.

“To do this, the company created a one-of-a-kind closed-loop system that utilizes NyPa forage [saltgrass] to recycle all of its process water while also reducing salt buildup in the soil — the end result [being] a tasty treat for local cattle,” he says.

Valuing sustainability is more than just the right and responsible thing to do — it also makes good business sense, Kelly adds. Musco Family Olive has zero liquid discharge leaving its facility, which means it saves a ton in disposal fees. It also has reduced trash to landfill to less than 1.5 percent of its total waste streams, which saves money on expensive disposal fees.

“Sustainability is not just a trend to Musco; it’s a way of life,” Kelly states. “All Musco employees strive every day to reduce waste, increase recycling, and find ways to make everyday practices more sustainable. We continue to set more rigorous goals and will continue to exceed them with our dedicated team.”

And although the company hasn’t advertised its sustainability initiatives in the past, that reality is now changing.

“Musco is ready to share its journey to sustainability, both the hurdles and the sweet successes, to inspire other companies to find innovative ways to reduce their waste streams and encourage responsible waste management,” Kelly notes. “Musco wants to go beyond being a leader and become a promoter of sustainability By sharing our stories, well continue to build our reputation as a leader in environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.”

Social Responsibility

Red Gold Inc.

In May Red Gold, an Elwood, Ind.-based processor and canner of tomato products under its own brands and for private labeling, announced that Katie Rosswurm was named the 2014 Red Gold Food Science Scholarship Award recipient. The company awards the scholarship annually to a Purdue University student with a strong aptitude for a career in food science.

Awarding the scholarship is just one example of how dedicated Red Gold is to supporting local communities. Having now won a Supplier Pacesetter Award in the social responsibility category two years in a row, the company points to its culture as what sets it apart from the competition and inspires it to do good.

“We live by the Golden Rule, and that applies to how we treat each other, our customers, our consumers and our community,” says Colt Reichart, Red Gold’s new media manager.

The company also is known now for its annual Run to Crush Hunger, which promotes healthy and active lifestyles while fighting hunger in Central Indiana. Hosted in downtown Elwood last November, the event raised nearly $25,000, which was given to the Second Harvest Food Bank and The Morrisett Center Food Pantry, Red Gold noted. It also sends 70 of its employees every year to help build a house for Habitat of Humanity of Greater Indianapolis, according to Reichart.

“Retailers like doing business with companies that not only provide value, but go above and beyond — and that’s what Red Gold does,” he says. “Red Gold plans to continue food donation programs where they can be the most impactful while fulfilling new social responsibility roles through farm management and recycling programs — we are well on our way to being landfill-free by 2017.”

Responsible Ingredient or Raw Material Sourcing

Rogers Family Co.

Some manufacturers today are only starting to jump aboard the “green” bandwagon. But for Rogers Family Co., a Lincoln, Calif.-based supplier of store brand coffee and tea, environmental responsibility has been the name of the game since the very beginning.

“We have practiced environmental responsibility long before ‘green’ became the marketing industry’s favorite color,” says Jon B. Rogers, founder and president of Rogers Family Co. “We also have never produced a ‘me-too’ product; we always strive to be innovative and take risks.”

As an example, Rogers points to his company’s OneCup BIO, the first single-serve coffee pod that is 97 percent biodegradable. He says the product represents his company’s core commitment to always consider the environment in its business decisions.

“Each year, billions of plastic cups from single-serve coffee wind up in landfills,” he states. “We addressed that vexing environmental problem.”

But to Rogers, 97 percent isn’t enough. His company will not rest until the OneCup BIO is 100 percent biodegradable, continuing its “core practice of looking at every material to try to ensure that every product component is the most environmentally friendly option.”

Rogers notes that his company’s retailer customers know that in Rogers Family Co., they have a partner that is committed to environmentally and socially responsible coffee production.

“We are honored and gratified that our commitment to be environmentally responsibly has received formal recognition from a leading publication such as Store Brands” he states.

Logistics/Supply Chain Optimization


To understand how trusted CaseStack is when it comes to logistics and supply chain optimization, one needs to only look at its list of customers. For the past 15 years, the third-party logistics provider has administered, designed and implemented freight consolidation for some of the top U.S. retailers and their private brand suppliers.

“Our experience is reflected in our relationships with the two largest grocery retailers, the fastest-growing grocery retailer and a few of the specialized regional grocery retailers, with whom we have partnered … to create collaborative retail freight consolidation programs [that] deliver maximum savings and superior performance,” says Colby Beland, vice president of sales and marketing with the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company.

Helping retailers remain competitive in a tough market means working smarter, not just harder, Beland explains. It means increasing efficiency and cutting costs to deliver value, savings and a good product assortment.

“CaseStack’s multi-vendor freight consolidation programs benefit retailers by allowing them to eliminate supplier minimums, reduce inventory levels in their distribution centers, reduce the number of trucks arriving at their distribution centers, improve their warehouse efficiencies, improve the suppliers’ on-time deliveries, enhance in-stock levels, reduce damages and shorts, and much more,” he states.

Beland says he is honored that CaseStack has been selected by the retailer community for a second consecutive Supplier Pacesetter Award.

“This reaffirms our commitment to working with both the retailers and suppliers to create innovative logistics solutions that can help both of them expand their margins and sales,” he states.

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