PrimeSource Foodservice Equipment

PrimeSource Foodservice Equipment is not in the business of selling equipment. Instead, it is in the business of solving its clients’ problems, President and COO Darren Anderson says. “Those solutions are what’s right for the client as opposed to what may give us the highest financial return,” Anderson explains. “We really do focus on becoming indispensable to our customer.”

Based in Dallas, PrimeSource supplies heavy and light foodservice equipment, décor, lighting and specialized logistics services to the restaurant industry for more than 40 countries. The company also provides outsourcing of backend services for administrative tasks, such as invoicing, warehousing and project management.

“We really consider ourselves more of a development partner,” adds Niazi Al-Zouhbi, director and general manager of business devel¬opment. “We are really into solving business problems.”

PrimeSource’s roots go back to 1986, when Bell Food Systems Inc. and Franchise Service Inc. merged to form PepsiCo Inc. At the time, PrimeSource was a division of PepsiCo and supported KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains around the world.

In 1997, the business was redesigned so that it could serve other chains. Today, the company employs a staff of 60, enjoyed sales of approximately $70 million last year and supports other large and small chains in their development goals, Al-Zouhbi says.

The Right Thing
One of the keys to PrimeSource’s success is the leadership of Executive Chairman Fritzi Woods, Anderson says. An 11-year veteran of the industry, Woods joined the company in 2003.

“She really has been a strategic force in guiding our direction,” Anderson says. “She established a culture that is based on doing the right thing for everyone involved.”

This has led to PrimeSource’s emphasis on service over products. “For instance, someone in our industry may say, ‘We want to sell you a fryer,’” Anderson explains. “We say, ‘What application are you trying to solve?’”

With this tactic, the company gets into the minds of its clients. “We can understand,” he says. “The service we provide to the customer is solving their problem as opposed to selling a product.”

PrimeSource also has focused on being honest with its clients, Al-Zouhbi says. “No matter what the service is, we’re [making offers] with our hand completely shown,” he says.

“We’re obligated to tell our client if we don’t think that an application is going to work,” Anderson says. “Most of the time, they take [our advice].”

One example of where PrimeSource met a client’s need is when the company served a prominent client who wanted to eliminate much of its paper work, Al-Zouhbi says. “We were looking to streamline operations,” he recalls.

“We actually engaged with [our client’s] back office technology folks, and were able to put them on an EDI platform that saved them a lot of time,” he says. “[We] refocused those folks’ resources into a meaningful activity that leveraged their business.”

Believing in People
The members of PrimeSource’s loyal staff have an average tenure of 10 years. The company shows its appreciation of its workers by operating as a matrix management organization, Anderson says.

“That is very important,” he asserts. “[It means] that from a hierarchal perspective, anyone can be leading the organization at any time, based on their expertise.” For instance, if a divisional manager wants to implement an initiative that will affect the entire staff, it simply does not end there.

“Everyone has a say in how it affects the organization,” he says. “We believe in our people and their skills.”

Areas of Growth
Manufacturing and distribution have begun to consolidate in PrimeSource’s market, Anderson says. Additionally, “Some manufacturing is going to China,” he says. “Globalization is what we’re having to adjust to so we can become nimble at providing services.”

But Anderson says he thinks that PrimeSource has a strong future ahead with its service-focused model. He predicts the company will branch out and help its clients’ brands grow. “[The industry] is about bringing new brands to the marketplace and making them sustainable,” he says.