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Not “selling to,” but “buying for”

Pate Dawson Company (PDC) has redefined its go-to-market strategy from being a distributor that sells to customers to one that buys for them. The distinction is significant, says John Paré, business solutions consultant for PDC. “We’re making a concerted effort to change the paradigm in the industry and also on a smaller scale within the community of DSRs, our sales reps.”

PDC staffed its sales force with people with restaurant backgrounds, taken reps off commission and moved them to salaried positions. “That completely changes the playing field,” notes Paré. “Their responsibility is to make sure they’re helping customers grow their businesses and manage costs. When that happens, our business grows, too.”

Tom Meyer, owner of The Q Shack, with one unit in Raleigh and a franchised unit in Durham, North Carolina, says PDC helped reduce his inventory, lower his food cost by 5 to 6 percent and increase gross profit on revenue by 6 percent. “They surveyed my operation looking for wasteful procedures, suggesting fixes throughout. They worked with me to find the right software to manage my inventory and sales—and then installed it, took it to operational status and trained my staff. They analyzed my costs and revenues and in many cases lowered acquisition costs while suggesting key price increases on my menu that have driven profitability gains,” Meyer reports. “They re-educated me and my staff about how to look at food cost.”

Meyer adds that PDC recently gave up a significant chunk of his business—beef and pork purchases—to help him meet his goal of using locally raised, pasture-grazed meats. “They put me in touch with several small farmers with whom they don’t do business because they knew those were the right suppliers. That was a big leap of faith on their part and total commitment to my success. I now am bringing together eight other restaurants who currently don’t buy from PDC to do cooperative buying of these products. Together, we’re building a business model that Pate Dawson can sustain through their processing and distribution service. So eventually they’ll get it all back and a lot more. This really is a partnership.”

Pate Dawson Company
Goldsboro, North Carolina
2009 Sales: $241 million
2009 ID Top 50 Rank: 27
Web site: www.pdco.com