Monday, June 29, 2009

CEO Profile: Corona site ideal, U.S. Foodservice exec says

08:27 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Press-Enterprise

In January, Graylon MacFall assumed management of the Corona division of U.S. Foodservice, a $19.8 billion national food distributor. The Corona facility ships to hospitals, schools, hotels, prisons, government cafeterias and restaurants -- big chains such as Sizzler to independent mom and pop eateries -- from San Diego to Las Vegas.

While the economic recession has prompted other businesses to downsize, the Corona distribution center, with 280,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, is expanding its staff, particularly its sales force, to offset declining revenue by attracting new customers. During an interview, MacFall explained his growth strategy.

Q: Why did U.S. Foodservice open a warehouse in Corona?

A: We feel that once we get out of this economic storm, the Inland Empire is going to be one of the fastest-growing areas in California, and we have the only food service distribution center in the region. All of our competitors are distributed out of San Diego or Los Angeles.

Q: How does this give you an advantage over your competitors?

A: It means it is easier for us to call on and service customers in the Inland Empire. Also, it is less expensive for us since all of our deliveries are made on tractor trailers. With the increase in the price of fuel that we just saw this past year, the savings have been significant.

Graylon MacFall, 46, is president of the Corona division of U.S. Foodservice. The company is expanding under his leadership as a distributor to schools, hotels, restaurants and more in the Inland area.

Q: How else do you make yourselves stand out from the competition?

A: We are adding employees. We have grown our total employee base by over 11 percent. Most of those are sales associates, and some are management. We realize the economic downturn we are in is not going to last, and when the economy does rebound we want to be well positioned.

Q: I understand that the Corona distribution facility, since July of last year, has been working hard to recruit customers among independent restaurant operators. Why is that?

A: The reason we are taking that course of action is because that's where we see an opportunity for more rapid growth, although franchises and chain operations are still an important customer market for us. We have added over 150 new accounts among independent operators.

Q: What changes have you initiated since you started in January?

A: We are trying to be a better partner with our restaurant customers by providing assistance with menu management. We think it is important to offer them ways to promote new products that will help them build their business.

Q: How would you advise someone to prepare for a career in food-service distribution management?

A: As with any industry, if a person wants to get into management and climb the ladder, they would need a good education. Our division presidents come from different business areas -- management, sales, financing and warehousing and distribution. As long as you work hard and demonstrate you can provide value to the company you work for, you will be given opportunities to succeed.

Graylon MacFall

Company: U.S. Foodservice-Corona division

Title: President

Employees: 320

Age: 46

Education: Texas A & M University

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