Habor Wholesale Foods


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Path Of Progress: David Pilon

July 26, 2017

David started at Harbor 17 years ago as a Driver. He made the transition to the Sales Team starting as a Territory Sales Manager and eventually moved up to the General Sales Manager role. As someone who has held a variety of different positions at Harbor, David had some great knowledge to share.

Q: What roles have you held at Harbor?

D: Delivery Driver, Territory Sales Manager, District 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: It has been a long process, but because I had the raw skill set for the positions I had, opportunities were available. There were key people along the way that mentored and coached me that have helped me to succeed. Fred Pearson, Cris Bade, Dan Rochon, & Bryce Schneider were key to my development, although many others have played roles in shaping me at Harbor. What makes Harbor truly great are the people. When we are all focused on the goal of serving our customers at a high level we are unstoppable!


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

D: I have been with Harbor for just over 17 years. In the summer of 2000, Harbor was in the middle of a huge growth spurt due to a wholesaler in Everett going out of business. I was the first Driver hired that did not come from the Warehouse in June of 2000. Back then it was easier to make the transition from Warehouse to Driver due to the lack of Federal regulations on obtaining your CDL. Because of the fast growth Harbor didn’t have enough Warehouse team members that wanted to make the transition so we had to look outside to fill the spot, lucky for me. I remember vividly at my orientation meeting Mike Erickson in his office and him saying as I left ‘I have a good feeling about you David”. Right away I felt like a member of the Harbor family.


Q: Any advice for advancing your career at Harbor?

D: In every position I have had at Harbor my philosophy has been to work hard and exceed our customer’s expectations. With the right skill set, opportunities will always find you if you have this attitude.


Q: As a long standing employee, what do you think is the most important quality to have to get your started at Harbor?

D: In the beginning when I started my career at Harbor the most important qualities I had that helped me success was to learn not just my job, but how other positions affected the entire ordering/delivery process. I would also add that a great work ethic will help you overcome any learning curve your position brings.


Millennials Love Dining Out

July 24, 2017

New survey says that this generation eats out at least five times a week.

Millennials are falling victim to what Bankrate.com calls “common financial vices,” such as spending money in coffee shops, racking up bar tabs or frequently dining out.

According to a new study from Bankrate.com, the average millennial dines at a restaurant or buys take-out food five times per week and 29% of millennials say they buy coffee at least three times per week.

“Often, it’s the minor, habitual expenses, such as take-out and alcohol, that wreak havoc on your budget,” said Sarah Berger of Bankrate.com. “Small steps, such as preparing meals at home and brewing your own coffee, can add up to big savings over the course of a year.”

Overall, Americans are doing a better job with “financial vices.” The survey found that 59% of Americans say they don’t purchase any brewed coffee or tea in a typical week, 73% say they don’t buy alcoholic drinks at bars or restaurants each week and 40% of Americans say they buy take-out or dine at a restaurant no more than once per week.

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Tyson Convenience Survey Outlines Food Preferences

July 21, 2017

Demand grows for breakfast all day at convenience stores.

A new survey from Tyson Convenience shows consumer preferences when it comes to prepared foods at convenience stores.

With 29% of consumers saying they will drive more in June as compared to the previous month (2017 NACS Consumer Fuels), and U.S. gas prices at the lowest level for the summertime since 2005, convenience stores are ready to welcome a wave of consumers traveling near and far.

In support of the summer season, Tyson Convenience today released results from a national consumer survey conducted with 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18+ to help retailers understand which prepared foods customers prefer for making their trip more enjoyable, regardless of the distance.

“Busy summers and convenience stores go hand-in-hand for meals and snacks on-the-go,” said Rob Ramsey, senior manager of convenience channel marketing for Tyson Foods. “Consumers use convenience stores as their summertime home to keep them refueled and not slow them down.”

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Three Ways to Share Your Healthful Products With Customers

July 17, 2017

Although I’m impressed by the large number of convenience stores that provide access to fresh, healthful products, there’s still a disconnect in communicating this to customers. Many stores offer little to no indication that they carry healthful products—unless customers physically walk inside.

Last summer, when I was near the Oklahoma City airport, I reluctantly stopped at a location from a major brand that had questionable curb appeal and an enormous promo about a deal on 32-ounce fountain drinks. But when I ventured inside, I also discovered salads, fruit, vegetables, mixed nuts, low-sugar snack bars and other similar products.

This made me wonder how many customers might have come inside if they knew these products were available? How many would have purchased food in addition to fuel?

Part of the issue in not promoting healthful options is that such marketing comes at the expense of tried-and-true traditional products. But that’s incorrect. It’s not about promoting one over the other, but rather telling customers that you have something for everyone.

The good news? This doesn’t have to be complicated. And it can begin with a few simple steps.

Step 1: Reach customers at the pump. You may already have promotions displayed at or near the pump, but do any of them show your healthful offerings?

At my local HyVee Gas, each pump’s hose has a small plastic frame attached to hold inserts for various promotions. Some of these show traditional products, but many show healthful products as well. It’s a great strategy, because even if a customer doesn’t want the salad and bottled water I saw on one promotion, they know other healthful products are likely sold inside.

Kum & Go does something similar. As I write this column, I’m using the outdoor seating at one of their new marketplace stores. Across the parking lot, a customer is pumping gas into his SUV and staring at a poster for one of their new salads.

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Snacks, Candy Focus on Healthier, On-the-Go Opportunities

July 14, 2017

From ingredients to format, snacks and candy are increasingly portable.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As snacking continues to increase among all consumer groups, especially millennials, snack companies are adapting to the focus on healthier, portable products, Progressive Grocer reports. “Due to increased health awareness and education, more and more consumers are seeking clean-label products made with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives,” said Eric Van Der Wal, vice president of marketing at Clearview Foods, the healthier snack department of Snyder’s-Lance Inc. “Gluten-free, organic and products made with non-GMO ingredients are becoming particularly popular.”

“We are seeing more emphasis on the nutrition value, ingredients and smaller serving sizes in candy and snacks,” added Rob Auerbach, president of CandyRific. “It’s in perfect harmony with what is going on in the mainstream grocery.”

In candy, miniatures have been popular lately. “The bite-sized category is projected to grow as ‘treating’ becomes more prevalent, especially with millennials,” Larry Lupo, vice president of sales for grocery, convenience and drug channels for Mars Chocolate North America, said. “Shoppers are looking for bite-sized treats that are easy to consume and offer portion control in a portable, resealable format.”

Another trend is marrying sweet with crunchy. Innovations like Hershey’s and Reese’s Crunchers and Reese’s Dipped Pretzels, “deliver a sweet treat with a crunchy texture,” said Dave Nolen, senior director of category strategy and insights at The Hershey Company.

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Meet Beau!

July 12, 2017

Tells us a little about yourself and your background.

I am from Aberdeen.


How long have you worked at Harbor Wholesale Foods?

2 Months


What made you want to work as a Driver?

I like driving trucks.


What areas do you cover?

Up North.


What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Deliver to Subway and Taco Time.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

Plenty of hours.


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



What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

I enjoy drag racing cars, going outdoors and riding my side by side.


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



What is one interesting fact about you?

I like cars.

Path Of Progress: Eric Bristol

July 11, 2017

Eric started at Harbor a year ago as an Order Selector in the Warehouse. In that year he moved from a Warehouse role into a Customer Service role. Eric had some great insights on what it took to make the transition he did here at Harbor:

Q: What roles have you held at Harbor?

E: I was previously an Order Selector, and I am now in Customer Service.


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

E: I made it clear when I got hired as an Order Selector that I intended to move up through the ropes. I have continuously requested training whenever it is made available to me, or I hear that someone else just completed a new training. I have previous experience in Customer Service from a prior job which helped me to land my current role.


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

E: I have been here a full year plus a few days. My anniversary here is June 20th, 2016 and I have not been happier ever working anywhere else. So, I am very happy to be here.


Q: Any advice for advancing your career at Harbor?

E: Stay on top of everything, be persistent. Always ask for help, as that is the goal here at Harbor. Everyone here happens to be here to not only better themselves in their current position, but to help others strive and reach their full potential.


Q: As a long standing employee, what do you think is the most important quality to have to get your career started at Harbor?

E: Dedication. You must show everyone, including yourself, that once you start a task you finish it. You go above and beyond what is asked of you to accomplish said task.

4 Tips to Manage Your Online Reputation

July 10, 2017

Retailers should think of people visiting their website or social-media pages the same way they think of customers stepping into their stores.

Customers Googling a store are online to shop for a brick-and-mortar shopping experience, previewing the store before they physically enter. They will inevitably see reviews of the store and these reviews are likely to affect their decisions.

Retailers have much to gain from favorable online ratings and much to lose with negative ratings. As such, it’s important to keep track of online reviews and to make an effort to keep reviews positive. Boston-based GasBuddy recently released a report with tips on how retailers can manage their online reputation.

Here are four points from the report to help retailers gain and retain good online reviews.

1. Tap the right talent

GasBuddy suggests retailers designate an employee to track, respond to and manage online customer reviews. Answering online reviews and addressing the problems they point out is important for a store’s image and performance, so it’s smart to designate a person or team to stay on top of online reviews.

The report suggests assigning this task to the team or employee responsible for answering the phone, email communications or the store’s social-media presence to maintain a consistent message. If stores don’t have the manpower to assign a person or team to this task, there are online services that will automatically respond to online feedback.

2. Take the plunge

It can be easy for retailers faced with a bad online review to ignore it. After all, nothing good will come from engaging an angry internet user, right? Wrong.

Retailers should publicly respond to every online review, good or bad, even if it’s responding to a complaint with something as simple as “thank you for your valuable feedback. Please direct message us with more details so we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

In a recent survey of its users, GasBuddy found that a personal response to a review would influence their decision to return, and 72% of consumers would consider revisiting a station or store if their complaints were resolved quickly. If a formerly disgruntled customer is satisfied with the response to their complaint, they could even be convinced to give the store a better online rating.

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Beverage Industry Stays Ahead of Evolving Customer Tastes

July 7, 2017

Wells Fargo shares insights on the beverage industry.

Wells Fargo recently attended Beverage Digest’s “Market Smarts” Conference in New York City and shared the future outlook for beverages.

“We continue to believe that the beverage industry has many opportunities (and challenges), but believe the overall outlook for the industry’s leaders remains favorable,” said Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Bonnie Herzog.

Key themes from this year’s conference, as outlined by Wells Fargo included:

(1) authenticity, relevancy, taste, and functional attributes remain key traits of successful brands, both old and new;

(2) manufacturers continue to raise the bar to leverage consumer and retail insights and are increasingly making efforts to stay ahead of evolving consumer tastes;

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Meet Justin Edwards!

July 5, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am very family oriented, and born and raised in California. I have spent my adult life in Washington and it has been great! I enjoy striving to achieve a better lifestyle which includes having recreational vehicles, a boat and traveling to see new places.


How long have you work at Harbor Wholesale Foods?

Almost 3 years.


What made you want to work as a Driver?

I am a hard worker and I felt like being a Delivery Driver was a great fit because I’ve always been out in the field, but wearing a tool belt had become very unappealing to me. I wanted to be part of a larger cause!


What areas do you cover?

Olympia, Bremerton, North Bend, and Vancouver, WA.


What does a day at work look like for you?

I conduct routine inspections on the vehicle, which is a must! Safely driving to designated customers and delivering them the products they ordered in a timely fashion. Maintaining accuracy is key to customer satisfaction and time management.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

Being on the move.


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



Do you have any hobbies?

I’m trying to learn to play the guitar. I’m also interested in taking up golf! I’m a big Raider fan (love football), and I would love to get some quads or dirt bikes soon!


What is one interesting fact about you?

I feel life is kind of short, so I really value all aspects of what life has to offer.