Habor Wholesale Foods


News. Blog. Announcements.

Building Your Brand With Social Media

April 3, 2018

By: Melissa Molnar, Digital Marketing Specialist

Do you use social media for your business? Have you ever considered using social media for your business? Why is social media worth it? Summed up, social media is the easiest way to connect with your customers, build awareness of your company, turn a prospective customer into a purchasing customer, and it’s free! Your customers are already on social media interacting with businesses, your company should be in that conversation too!

The main social media channels for businesses are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram LinkedIn and Yelp. However, when getting started it is best focus your efforts on just a few of those channels. If you are wanting to invest time in just one channel, Facebook is where you should be. Facebook has the most evenly distributed demographics, which means that your content will reach the most people. A Facebook business page is easy to set up, however you must have a personal Facebook profile to create a Facebook page.

After Facebook, Instagram is the channel that will create a great return on investment for your time. Instagram is used mostly by people ages 18-29*, so if you are located by a college campus or school, your customers are using Instagram even more than Facebook. It’s important to note that Instagram is best optimized for a mobile phone. You won’t be able to get the full range of features on a computer. Using hashtags on Instagram is key. Hashtags allow for people to find your content and follow you. For example, on a Harbor Instagram post we always include #HarborWholesaleFoods. We also will include hashtags relevant to the post like #Snacks #CStore #NewProducts so people outside of our organization can find the content too.

Yelp is another great channel to use- and chances are your business is already here. People can leave reviews for businesses on Yelp whether they have claimed their page or not. Therefore, it’s important to claim your page so you can respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Claiming your Yelp page is easy, you can start the process by visiting https://biz.yelp.com. After claiming your page, you can also add in store hours, location and photo.! If you have a foodservice or coffee program you can also add that information so when people are looking for lunch or breakfast your store pops up and they know to stop there.

Having an online presence is important and is a great way to make potential customers aware of your programs and services without having to invest a lot of money. So what content should you share? Here’s a great list for starting out:

Daily Foodservice item

Any deals or coupons

Coffee information

New items in your store

Customer appreciation

Employee spotlight

Items in your cold case & hot case

Bestselling items

Host a contest to gain followers

Ask customers to share photos of what they purchase from you

Local events you may be participating in

History about your store

It may take some time to figure out what posts really work well for your customer base, but spending time to create social media will help to create a loyal following for your store!

If you would like to learn more, talk to your Harbor Sales Rep and they will be able to provide the full Tradeshow Seminar presentation for you.

*Stats from wishpond.com

Brewing Success: Coffee As Cornerstone

April 3, 2018

By: Stephen Zirschky, Coffee Program Manager

Did you know that over 60% (200 million) Americans consume coffee on a daily basis? Of those 200 million people, only 14 million purchase their morning brew from a convenience store. With such a big discrepancy, we have to ask ourselves, “why”?

Today’s coffee consumers are much more discerning than in days past. As part of a NACS consumption survey, 51% of respondents stated the quality of their coffee was the deciding factor of where they would purchase on a daily basis. In addition to product quality, consumers are also inundated with choices – in terms of product variety AND customization.

I challenge you to answer these questions:

Is my average cups per day increasing or decreasing? Why?

What customization options do I offer my customers? (creamers, flavorings, syrups, dairy options)

Am I strengthening my offering with other programs? (cold brew, tea, slush, or espresso)

Our data indicates that higher quality blends such as single origin, organic, & high quality coffees are experiencing an average of +10% in growth year over year. Conversely, lower quality coffees & traditional blends are experiencing a (3%) dip. This does not even take into account the impact of offering variety to your customers –79% of whom indicated they choose their coffee destination before leaving home/work.

The big picture is this: coffee is the highest margin program in our stores, it is a traffic driver to our stores, and it is a complementary item. Gone are the days where a $0.99 cup of coffee will drive traffic into our doors. To keep up with not only coffeehouses and drive thru cafes, but major chains in the convenience industry as well – we need to adapt.

If you would like to learn more, talk to your Harbor Sales Rep and they will be able to provide the full Tradeshow Seminar presentation for you.

Soft Drinks Target of Changing Market

March 27, 2018

Noncarbonated beverages and sparkling waters are getting more space in coolers as customers look for alternatives to traditional soft drinks.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Coca Cola eked out a 1% gain in sales of its carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) such as Coke, Sprite and Fanta in North America, while global volume sales dipped 1%.

Still, those kinds of numbers won’t grow the CSD segment and beverage companies such as Coke are committing to noncarbonated beverage products to bolster profits.

“We’ve noticed flavored sparkling water is taking over in cooler doors and alkaline Ph-balanced water is being noticed at the c-store level,” said Nicolette Jaeger, loyalty and foodservice manager of Warrenville, Ill.-based PRIDE Stores, which has 12 locations in the Chicago area. “We do see a move away from carbonated soft drinks, but people still crave the classics like Coke and Pepsi.”

Last year, the convenience channel accounted for about 19% of industry revenue, which totaled $44.6 billion in 2017. Still, annual growth of CSDs declined 0.4% in 2012 and 2017 and is projected to decrease 0.9% between 2017 and 2022.

CSDs in 2016 still topped the packaged beverage category with an average-monthly-sales-per-store total of $7,639, according to preliminary figures released in the NACS State of the Industry Summit Report from April 2017.

With top carbonated soft drink manufacturers further diversifying their lines and moving into other beverage arenas, the segment will continue evolving to suit consumer tastes.
“Whether the category stops hemorrhaging and whether Coke and Pepsi take from other beverages remains to be seen,” said Tom Pirko, managing director, BevMark Consulting, Santa Barbara, Calif. “We haven’t had these competitive dynamics before, with the two biggest players in the world looking to find a way to bring consumers back in.”

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have launched new mid-calorie soda products, reported IBISWorld. In addition, craft sodas like Pepsi’s Stubborn line are more popular. In 2017, Coca-Cola debuted Blue Sky Zero Sugar, a craft soda, and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, for consumers who prefer the taste of traditional sodas, but are weary of the added sugars and calories.

With the focus on obesity and rise in diabetes, the focus has turned to healthier versions of carbonated beverages that have less calories and healthier ingredient profiles.

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Calling All Superheroes!

March 7, 2018

Calling all Superheroes!  The 2018 Harbor tradeshow is upon us and this is the can’t miss event of the year.  The show will provide the ammunition you need to defeat the challenges in the business and create a winning strategy for 2018 and beyond.

The C-Store industry is evolving quickly and this is your opportunity to meet with 200 vendor partners and network with other like-minded retailers who are all focused on building their business.  We have prepared an incredible show for you and here are a few of the great opportunities to take advantage of:

  • Aggressive pricing and promotions Exclusive, show only deals to enhance your profits.
  • Merchandising and marketing solutions – New programs and ideas to keep your stores fresh.
  • New itemsThe latest and greatest new products.
  • FoodserviceSample, try and buy new products in the fastest growing area of the business.
  • Fresh and healthy foodsConsumer tastes are changing, we have a great selection to meet demand.
  • Coffee programWe have new tricks up our sleeve! Come see and taste for yourself.
  • Educational seminarsDiscover new ways to improve profits and differentiate your stores.
  • Technology – Learn about new tools to simplify ordering and gain access to business insights.


Our Washington show is March 15-16th and Oregon is March 30th.  The show will be fun, engaging and deliver results to help you differentiate your stores, enhance profitability and improve your overall business.

Thank you for joining us, we are excited to see you at the show!


Ryan Peters

VP of Sales and Marketing

New Vendors At Tradeshow

March 5, 2018

Are you attending Harbor’s Tradeshow? Make sure and check out these awesome new vendors!

Path Of Progress: James Tortella

February 27, 2018

James is a Zones Supervisor in the Warehouse and has worked at Harbor for 2.5 years! Read about his Path Of Progress and his thoughts on building your career at Harbor.

Q: What roles have you had at Harbor?

J: I started here at Harbor in the cig department and once the opportunity to pick cases came up I jumped on it. After doing that for a while I noticed an opportunity to get into picking in the freezer so I made sure I mentioned that to my manager and I eventually transitioned to freezer. I always took a lot of pride in my board building. I wanted my boards to look nice and be stacked nice so that I wasn’t making the drivers job any harder than it needed to be. That was noticed and I got an offer to train people on how to do that. Eventually my work ethic that I would have to thank my father for was noticed as well and I got offered the zone supervisor position which I jumped on. Now I can help more people and the warehouse, as a whole in so many more ways. I really enjoy being helpful and I couldn’t be more thankful.


Q: How did you make the transition from where you started to where you are now?

J: When I applied here I was determined to make a career for myself. I wanted to find a job that enabled me to move up into new positions. I also wanted to work in an environment that I truly liked. That’s a priority to me. It didn’t take me long to realize Harbor had and was it. Once hired I made sure I worked hard, that I was doing my job the best I possibly could and stayed focused.


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

J: I have been at Harbor for about 2 ½ years now and cant wait to add some more years to that.


Q: Any advice for getting your career started at Harbor?

J: My advice to anyone that wants to advance would be to be the best you can be. Ask questions and listen so you learn, take pride in what you do so that you produce quality work, stay dedicated and even though some days are more tough than others, don’t get discouraged and stay positive.


Q: What do you think is the most important quality to have to get your career started at Harbor?

J: Take pride in whatever it is that you do, wherever you’re at and it will get noticed AND it will just be a great feeling knowing that you are doing your best.

2018 Foodservice Report

February 26, 2018

From experience to delivery to healthy options, foodservice trends are evolving faster than ever. As a result, c-stores are ramping up innovation to keep pace with the competition.

n 2018, expect to see foodservice operators scrambling to differentiate their offerings on everything from price to quality to technology and innovation.

NPD Group, a global information company, forecasts flat to sluggish traffic growth for foodservice operators in 2018. Operators are looking to change that trajectory in a variety of ways, including focusing on the lower end of the price spectrum. McDonald’s, for example introduced a $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu this January to better compete on value.

The NPD Group predicts limited time only (LTO) items will be a major strategy for food operators as they target infrequent buyers, as will encouraging customer visits via loyalty programs.

Expect customers to be even more strapped for time, meaning the demand for convenience especially around the dinner daypart will grow. NPD Group predicts delivered meals will be a source of growth for certain retailers, along with other convenient meal solutions. Customers will also be looking to order digitally via text messages and mobile apps, but one size doesn’t fit all.

Rather, for convenience stores, realizing what foodservice solutions best meet the expectations of its customers will be as important to operational success in 2018 as it has been in the past.

Nearly 50% of dinners purchased from a restaurant are consumed at home, and many in-home meals are a blend of dishes people prepare alongside ready-to-eat meals purchased at a foodservice establishment, according to the NPD Group.

As new channels such as online grocery ordering disrupt food shopping, the ways in which retailers must appeal to customers are changing. Excellent customer service will be a key consideration for customers.

Eric Richard, education coordinator, for the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) noted crafting an experience is a must for brick-and-mortar retailers and something Gen Z—and Millennials especially—are demanding.

“They want to go into a store and learn. They want to sample. They want to taste new flavors and new ingredients. That’s something you can’t get online,” Richards said.
Creating an experience lends itself to another trend: transparency. Let customers know what ingredients are used. If a retailer bakes its own bread, it can better engage consumers by highlighting the ingredients, the simplicity and freshness of the goods, Richards said. Let customers see employees making the food and allow for customization.

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Path Of Progress: Zachary Hiester

February 21, 2018

Zachary works in RDC as a Warehouse Supervisor. During his time at Harbor he has worked a few different roles, and had some great thoughts to share about getting your career started at Harbor.

Q: What roles have you held at Harbor?

Z: Utility/I have picked everywhere/Stamped Cigs/Consolidated/Inventory Control/PM Warehouse Supervisor.


Q: How did you make the transition from where you started to where you are now?

Z: Aaron hired me into a PM utility position. I picked up boxes for a couple of months and then moved into eaches as an order selector. While working in eaches I was crossed trained on just about every PM position. After about a year, a position opened up In the freezer. I did that for another year or so. From there I moved into Inventory control. I learned a lot about how the AM shift worked while in that position, as well as learning a lot about the company in general. I did that for I believe close to 2 years. Then, a few months ago, Chris Ritter and Leon Dillon approached me with a promotion into a PM supervisor role. I gladly accepted. And that is what I am doing now.


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

Z: 4 ½ years.


Q: Any advice for advancing your career at Harbor?

Z: For me, a willingness to work and a willingness to learn, has worked pretty well. Don’t be afraid to take on a big or important task.


Q: What do you think is the most important quality to have to get your career started at Harbor?

Z: I don’t know if I could say just 1 quality that is most important. Everybody is different, and no 2 people will take the same path within the company. I think being genuine, motivated, resourceful, & friendly are all good qualities to have! 😊

Just be you, and be willing to learn and teach and your positive qualities will come out through that. This will be recognized by not only your supervisors and managers, but also your peers.

Path Of Progress: Dylan Eng

February 13, 2018

Dylan is currently the General Sales Manager of Harbor’s Eastern Sales Team. When he began at Harbor he started in a very different role.

Q: What roles have you held at Harbor?

D: Territory Sales Manager, Regional Sales Manager and General Sales Manager


Q: How did you make the transition from where you started to where you are now?

D: My introduction to this industry started 9 years before I had heard of Harbor Wholesale Foods. In 1995 I started loading box trucks with retail and foodservice items. My responsibilities increased from Truck loader to Order Selector to Dairy and Produce Buyer to Stocking Manager and finally, Director of Operations. My previous employer was acquired by Harbor on April 19, 2004. I started a very new role for me, Territory Sales Manager.


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

D: Almost 14 years.


Q: And advice for advancing your career at Harbor?

D: Perform your job to the best of your abilities, help others when you can and have your employers best interest in mind. It will pay off.


Q: What do you think is the most important quality to get your career started at Harbor?

D: A desire to serve your customer. Your customer is the person your work impacts. A Truck Loader’s customer is the Delivery Driver. A Stocker’s customer is the Order Selector. Your customers are the people you work with every day to make your department and company a success.


Spending in the Name of Love

February 8, 2018

Consumers will shell out a near-record $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day as 55% of the population celebrates this year, an increase from last year’s $136.57, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year. The numbers are the second-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, topped only by the record $146.84 and $19.7 billion seen in 2016.

“Americans are looking forward to pampering and indulging their loved ones with flowers, candy, dinner and all of the other Valentine’s Day stops,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a press release. “With the holidays behind them and the winter months dragging along, consumers are looking for something to celebrate this time of year.”

This year’s survey found consumers plan to spend an average $88.98 on their significant other/spouse ($12.1 billion), $25.29 on other family members such as children or parents ($3.5 billion), $7.26 on children’s classmates/teachers ($991 million), $7.19 on friends ($982 million), $5.50 on pets ($751 million) and $4.79 on co-workers ($654 million). Those between the ages of 25 and 34 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $202.76.

Those celebrating Valentine’s Day plan to spend $4.7 billion on jewelry (given by 19%), $3.7 billion on an evening out (35%), $2 billion on flowers (36%), $1.9 billion on clothing (17%), $1.5 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (15%) and $894 million on greeting cards (46%). More consumers plan on purchasing candy this year, with 55% (up from 50%) saying they will give gifts of candy for a total of $1.8 billion.

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