Habor Wholesale Foods


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Meet Joe!

March 24, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I’ve been married for 11 years this St.Patrick’s Day to my favorite person, and best friend, Ruth. I have two boys about to start middle school, Joshua and Michael. I served as a medic in the US Army. I have a cat named Meeko, he’s a lover.


What made you want to work as a Driver?

My dad was a truck driver. He always said never to become a truck driver. I’m a rebel.


What does a day at work look like for you?

It all starts very early! My routes leave anywhere from 12:45AM to 3:30AM. From there, I drive to my destinations and deliver products for the next 10-14 hours. Time flies when you’re having fun, and I really enjoy it. Harbor’s Customers are the best.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

Delivering product and interacting with the customers.


If you were to use one work to describe Harbor, what would it be?



Do you have any hobbies?

I sing in the worship band at church. I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids, going to the ocean, hiking, swimming, and exploring new parks. Summertime is my favorite.


If you were a snack item, what would you be?

Peanut Butter Cups, yum!

Jim Winkle, Harbor Wholesale Foods CFO, on leadership: ‘Lead from the front’

March 22, 2017

In 2012, Harbor Wholesale Foods was experiencing growing pains after nearly 90 years in business. A facility expansion, a major software upgrade and the recent loss of its single largest customer confronted Jim Winkle when he stepped into the chief financial officer role that year.

Winkle immediately went to work, strengthening relationships with lenders and stakeholders, and revamping the company’s accounting processes. The results have been undeniably successful.

Harbor Wholesale Foods’ revenue has increased 65 percent since Winkle arrived. In addition to the company’s financial growth, he has overseen the hiring of more than 100 employees.

Winkle, who served 10 years in the military before joining the corporate world, has been given the 2017 Leadership Award as part of the Business Journal’s CFO of the Year program.

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Specialty Coffees Are Hot

March 20, 2017

Like other convenience retailers, Lassus Handy Dandy Food Stores, a subsidiary of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Lassus Brothers Oil, is boosting its hot dispensed sales with specialty offerings. Following U.S. consumers’ inclination for more specialty coffees and teas, c-stores are banking on this trend continuing.

Coffee sales continued to grow in 2016. Overall servings of both traditional and specialty coffees rose 19% last year over 2015, according to a NPD Group/CREST report, which covers the U.S. coffee market in 2016.

In its “Coffee Market in the U.S. 2014-2018” report, Technavio research firm forecasted that U.S. coffee market revenue will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% over the period between 2013 and 2018. In terms of coffee volume, the CAGR is expected to rise 4.16% over that period.

At five of Lassus Handy Dandy Food Stores, customers don’t have to get out of their cars to order the company’s Higher Grounds premium coffee and made-to-order espresso drinks. Each of the stores has a drive-up window to expedite ordering and pick-up.

Handy Dandy was an early adopter of the premium coffee movement, having introduced its Higher Grounds concept about 10 years ago, said Todd Lassus, company president. The concept offers more than 20 different varieties of coffee from its traditional premium brews to such innovative creations as its signature Zebra (white and dark chocolate with espresso and milk), Monkey’s Tail (espresso with banana syrup) and the Chicago Jamaican (espresso and dark chocolate with almond and amaretto syrups), all of which are brisk sellers.

The retailer’s thirst to offer more variety doesn’t just apply to its beverage offerings, but following customer demand, is increasingly focusing on diverse condiments, flavors and specialty options.

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2017 Looks Rich for Dairy

March 17, 2017

Dairy products like milk, frozen novelties, ice cream and more continue to be essential items for Americans—and just the kind that convenience stores specialize in.

Health is an obvious driver. Darryl David, CEO of Darryl’s Ice Cream Solutions LLC, a private-label ice cream consulting firm in St. Petersburg, Fla., said more often than not, U.S. consumers are bending toward better-for-you dairy items.

“Many of my clients are eliminating high-fructose corn syrup in their products and making products sweetened with cane sugar.”
While there might be a higher demand for soy milk in some markets, the best sellers in convenience stores, he added, are still the super-premium ice cream pint at $4.79 and the $1 novelty item.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen a proliferation of new product introductions and sustained growth of key products, including chocolate milk and whole milk,” said Kikke Riedel, vice president of strategy and insights for the Washington, D.C.-based National Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP).

The group found that c-stores can and should step up their game with milk. A retail study recently commissioned by MilkPEP found that convenience stores, in particular, have lost ground to other channels for milk sales, resulting in a loss of more than $1 billion in potential sales and $321 million in potential profits since 2008. “That’s a loss that we believe can be regained with smart merchandizing and milk product mix optimization,” Riedel said.

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Forecasting The Future Of Snacking

March 13, 2017

Snacking, now accounting for half of all eating occasions, is driven by three primary consumer needs: nourishment, optimization and pleasure. Understanding attitudes and approaches to snacking based on these drivers is critical as manufacturers and retailers navigate “the modern era of snackified eating,” said Tamara Barnett, vice-president of strategic insights for The Hartman Group.

“Snacking is not just an interesting phenomenon of consumer behavior … it really is a crucial demand space for product and marketing development and strategic portfolio planning,” Ms. Barnett said during a Feb. 28 webinar presentation detailing findings of recent research about snacking behaviors.

Of the 91% of consumers who report snacking multiple times throughout the day, 8% forgo meals altogether in favor of all-day snacking. Time pressures and commitments, as well as the decline of meal planning and cooking skills, have upended traditional daily food rituals.

“How we go about planning, acquiring and consuming food has been disrupted, and the result of that disruption has been in many cases the displacement of meals and a lot of variation in when and how and what gets consumed,” Ms. Barnett said.

An elevated focus on food and beverage for nutrition and a growing interest in global flavors have fueled an evolution in snacking behaviors and preferences, Ms. Barnett said.

“Snacking was about diversion and fun before,” she said, indicating a more recent shift toward health and wellness, fresh and premium. “The food industry has responded to this desire for fresh and minimally processed food and beverages, and there has been a proliferation of small, premium quality brands that are now competing with those larger legacy brands.”

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Quenching Thirsts and Sales

March 10, 2017

Spring is almost here, which means summer isn’t too far behind. It’s time to get your beverage business in order.

By Jim Callahan

The warning, “Beware the Ides of March” probably resonates more with readers of Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” than it does with c-store operators.

Still, March is an important month to mark on your calendars. That’s because March signals spring and spring of course is the precursor to summer sales.

However, some c-stores stab themselves in the back (a Caesar reference) by not being prepared to serve their customers all summer long. This month is a good window to plan, prepare dispensing equipment and oil the cash register—homing in on what I consider the No. 1 “must push” foodservice-related segment for convenience retailers.

That, of course, would be beverage offerings. Whether you are in the deep south, like I am here in Atlanta, in upstate New York—where I grew up—or Anchorage, Alaska, where I’ve never been, dispensed beverages are a top business driver throughout the year. That’s because beverage-buying trends cover a broad spectrum of customer behavior.

In my opinion, beverages are by far that No. 1 summer merchandise item. Customers alter their day with an enormous number of unplanned stops to purchase desired beverages—even rivaling restroom stops. After all, quenching one’s thirst and hydrating one’s body is serious business.

In that regard, beverage offerings too are serious business. Both cold and hot dispensed beverages are perennial top 10 performers when it comes to in-store sales. Throw in the unique and expanding frozen beverage tradition that c-store have cultivated and grown since 7-Eleven rolled out the first Slurpee machine.

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Meet Jesse!

March 8, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am 34 years old, and have been married to the woman of my dreams for over 9 years. I started working in the warehouse at Harbor as a part-time employee when I was 16 years old. Over 5 years, I worked in every department in the warehouse, minus the cigarette stamping. I moved over to the Java Classics side of the business and sold Coffee with our DSD trucks. From there, I moved into grocery sales and have been there since.


How long have you worked at Harbor Wholesale Foods?

I was employed part-time from 1998-2003. I have been a full time employee since 2004.


What made you want to work in Sales?

I have always been extremely competitive, and saw the opportunity to release some of that through Sales. The ability to compete amongst other Sales professionals as well as continually trying to beat my best was extremely enticing. I also love being able to find solutions or fix problems. Every day my customers have problems or issues that require a creative mind to resolve. This challenges me on a daily basis, and is very fulfilling as well.


What areas do you cover?

From South to North, I cover North Kelso to Shelton, and from East to West I cover Packwood to Pe Ell.


What does a day at work look like for you?

No day is ever the same, which is one of the reasons I love what I do. However, a somewhat typical day would involve me visiting anywhere from 10-15 stores, and within those stores, I credit any outdated or mis-ordered items, identify discontinued items, sell our promo book, and handle any issues the customer may have. I also try to take at lease a few minutes to connect personally with the customers. I always try to have a personal conversation with them that is outside of Harbor business to continue to build our relationship above and beyond business.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love being able to connect with and help customers succeed. I love, more than anything, walking into a store and seeing everyone smile and be happy to see me. I also love the family that I have come to know at Harbor. Being at Harbor for as long as I have, I have seen it grow from a little over 100 employees with a small warehouse in Tumwater, to where it is today. I love watching this company become stronger as time goes on.


If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?



Do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy anything that gets me outdoors like hunting, fishing, RV’ing, motorcycle day trips around the Northwest and long walks on a warm beach (seriously though, I love traveling to Mexico and the Caribbean). I love building and construction projects, both small and large. I also enjoy making wood furniture. I was able to build most of the wood furniture that is in our house.


If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

I couldn’t even begin to imagine this, however a Facebook quiz I once took says that I’m a cheese ball. So we’ll go with that.


What is one interesting fact about you?

I am actually a fairly talented musician and vocalist. I can crush it on a karaoke stage, and never has a guitar, piano, or drum set met me and left me disappointed.

Health Consciousness Drives Protein Alternative Consumption

March 6, 2017

As more consumers adopt healthier lifestyles, interest in meat substitutes is growing.

While not fully committing to a meat-free lifestyle, ‘Meatless Mondays’ seem to be catching on among Americans as a way to cut back with new research from Mintel revealing that the top reason U.S. consumers use meat alternatives is because they occasionally like to have meat-free days (31%).

Health reasons are also driving interest, with three in 10 protein alternatives consumers saying that they are watching their cholesterol (30%) and are worried about eating too much saturated fat (29%). Indeed, Mintel research indicates that more than one third (35%) of Americans are eating protein more from sources other than red meat. However, while more than two thirds (66%) of protein alternatives consumers agree they are healthier than real meat, nearly half (46%) say that protein alternatives products are too high in sodium.

In addition to health reasons, protein alternatives seem to be playing a part in leading a healthier lifestyle as more than one quarter (28%) of those who use protein alternatives are trying to lose weight. Indeed, some 29% of new meat substitutes in 2016 featured a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate claim, up from 7.1% of new products in 2015, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

“Americans are embracing popular trends like ‘Meatless Mondays’ as an easy and consistent way to include meat-free meals into their diets in an effort to reduce meat consumption as health concerns surrounding red meat continue to grow. With so many consumers turning to protein from sources other than meat and poultry, there is an opportunity for marketers to reach a sizable group with concerns related to health, particularly cholesterol and fat content,” said Billy Roberts, senior rood and drink analyst at Mintel.

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Refrigerated Coffee Creamer Sales Climb

March 3, 2017

Clean labels and more plant-based creamers may be giving the segment a boost.

Sales of coffee creamers are on the rise, according to a recent report “Refrigerated Coffee Creamers: U.S. Market Trends,” by market research firm Packaged Facts that estimates overall domestic retail sales for refrigerated coffee creamer products approached $2.5 billion in 2015, an increase of more than 4%. The increase came about as the rate of heavier usage continued creeping upwards, with the share of households consuming three or more containers per month at a five-year high of 12% even as the share of U.S. households consuming non-dairy cream substitutes remained at around 44% between 2011 and 2015.

So why are the consumers who use these products using more? Credit the appearance of clean labels as the primary reason, with additional support coming from the expanded availability of plant-based creamers. Nestlé, the leader in the coffee creamer category, has maintained its dominant position via an intense commitment to product innovation and development that leverages consumer demand for clean labels. Its vast Coffee-mate product assortment is augmented and updated continually.

At the same time, WhiteWave has become a leading contender through development and marketing initiatives in the creamer market built around plant-based creamers. The company is also guided by a commitment to meeting the growing consumer demand for personalization in their coffee experience. The company expects a considerable return on its investment across its “better-for-you” lineup.

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Meet Chelsea!

March 1, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I graduated from CWU with a degree in Business Admin/Marketing and a Minor in English (I love to write!). Before coming to Harbor I worked for a small Souvenir/Novelty company as an Account Manager.


What made you want to work as a Category Manager?

I love puzzles, and it’s easy to see the whole thing as a giant puzzle. You have to fit all of the places together to make it work. Pricing, promotions, SKU mix, it all works together. I also like that each day is different and presents new challenges.


What does a day at work look like for you?

It changes daily, but usually involves a lot of vendor communication, program planning (ads, new items, pack changes, pricing, etc.), and tackling problems as they arise.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

The marketing/promotions and schematic assembly (planos) aspects are definitely my favorite.


If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?

Growth! Five years is not really a long time to have been with a company, but SO much has changed in the time I’ve been here. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, and exciting to see where we’re headed.


Do you have any hobbies?

I’m a mom and wife and my family keeps me super busy. My free time (what’s that?) is spent either outdoors or crafting up a storm- I LOVE making things with my hands.


If you were a snack item, what snack items would you be?

I had input on this one from Jaime McLean- I’m probably most like our Panino Rolls from Fiorucci. Spicy Salami wrapped around creamy mozzarella goodness (lol). I’m Italian too, so it fits.