2013 IFMA Excellence in Distribution Award – Merchants Foodservice

Posted by Caroline Perkins, president of The Foodservice Content Company October 10, 2013

Tagged in Distinguished Foodservice Awards Distributor Awards Presidents Conference Supply Chain Partners

Caroline Perkins 2013-croppedCaroline Perkins has more than 25 years of experience in the food industry including 14 years with foodservice publications. She is president of The Foodservice Content Company, which specializes in marketing communication and research, author of  Customer Care & Feeding: The Ultimate B2B Selling Strategy and lends her industry expertise to the IFMA Distributor Awards selection jury.


Merchants Foodservice, based in Hattiesburg, Miss., pledges to "find a way to say yes" to its customers and to do "whatever it takes" to make customers' lives easier. The company has been around for more than 100 years, but is firmly established as a forward-thinking, engaged, 21st-century business. Merchants recently completed a re-branding effort that identified customer service as the center of it culture. The pledge that resulted from the study is as follows:

Merchants Foodservice Pledge

It is this focus of treating customers like family that has spurred Merchants' success. From its foundation as a wholesale grocery company in 1904, Merchants shifted its business model to become a broadline distributor in 1982. Led by President and CEO Andy Mercier, the company has four warehouse facilities in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and delivers to ten southeastern states. Merchants provides excellent customer service through constantly updated warehouse management systems, data processing and delivery equipment.

Merchants Foodservice is a well-deserving recipient of the IFMA Award that honors excellence in management and leadership, customer relations, supplier relations and industry/community contributions. Mercier explains that, by expanding their infrastructure through acquisition, the company was ready and able to seek and develop new business. They also added sales people when, as Mercier notes, other distributors were laying reps off. This strategy resulted in the acquisition of significant new chain business. Sales are now around upwards of $500 million.

Merchants balances supplier needs along with customer needs. "We work hard to identify needs and find a way to say 'yes' to them," says Mercier. The Merchants team has been described as "hard working professional with a get-it-done attitude." Add to that the company's execution of its customer service pledge and Merchants Foodservice is a well-deserving recipient of the IFMA Award that honors excellence in management and leadership, customer relations, supplier relations and industry/community contributions.

Watch Merchants Foodservice's award winner video

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