Habor Wholesale Foods


News. Blog. Announcements.

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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22 Reasons To Attend Harbor’s Tradeshow

February 6, 2018

Are you curious about all the things you’ll see at Harbor’s Tradeshow! Here are 22 reasons why you should attend! Registration is still open for the show, and you can register are rsvp.harborwholesale.com

22 Reasons To Attend Harbor’s Tradeshow

1. Over 400 vendor booths with great buy in deals and innovative new items

2. New vendors for Harbor with exciting new products

3. Great networking opportunities with other Harbor customers and Vendors

4. Customer dinner, entertainment and customer appreciation

5. Awesome prizes based on purchases or raffle drawings at vendor booths

6. Foodservice booth where you can sample products and get great new ideas for foodservice programs

7. See our Zone Programs in person and sign up for them at the show!

8. Come hang with your favorite Harbor rep and the Harbor Sales leadership! Say hello to our CEO as well!

9. Try loads and loads of tasty new food items!

10. Best deals of the year!

11. Vendor Prizes!

12. Dress up, and have fun with the superheroes theme!

13. Check out and book/purchase New products

14. Take advantage of deals and buy downs on products you already carry

15. Meet local vendor Partners and learn about their products

16. Learn more about pressing opportunities and challenges in our educational seminars

17. Network and collaborate with the best operators in the NW

18. Connect with the industry’s leading manufacturers

19. Learn about products to help drive business and keep the consumer shopping experience fresh

20. Learn how to increase efficiencies in the kitchen

21. Come see, taste and learn about the Watertown Coffee Program, and be there for the Northwest debut of our new coffee program Split Shift!

22. Enjoy a night filled with dining, dancing and conversation

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

Local Vendors At Harbor’s 2018 Tradeshow!

February 6, 2018

Check out this local vendors that will be at Harbor’s 2018 Tradeshow with the latest and greatest C-store products! Be sure to visit their booths when you’re at the show.

Register for Harbor’s Tradeshow here: rsvp.harborwholesale.com

Path Of Progress: Michael Clarke

February 6, 2018

Michael started as a driver 17 years ago and as time went on became the person to train new Harbor Drivers in RDC. Since then, he has moved into the Driver Supervisor role.

Q: What roles have you held at Harbor?

M: Driver and Driver Supervisor


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

M: I started as a driver with Paul Jackson. When Harbor bought the company, they kept us as employees which was great! As years progressed I became the go-to driver to train other drivers, some right out of the Warehouse. So, the transition to Supervisor was my next step to carry me to retirement.


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

M: 17 years


Q: Any advice for advancing your career at Harbor?

M: My advice for advancing your career with Harbor is to not be afraid of a challenge!!!


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

M: I think there are several important qualities to have to succeed at Harbor which are Dependability, Friendly, Resourceful, Motivated and Genuine!

Small Steps Can Build Loyalty

February 5, 2018

As loyalty programs evolve, they’re working to reach customers in a more personalized, consumer-centric way.

A successful loyalty program comes in many forms. It can be a physical card, a mobile app or a credit card associated with a program. It can involve points, free items and special deals. But, what it absolutely needs is customer appeal.

“To be successful and meet the changing needs of the guest, loyalty programs have to be adaptable,” said Tyler Tanaka, director of digital and innovation at Pilot Flying J. “If something was working before but isn’t working now, it is important to walk away and try something new.”

Loyalty programs have long been a source of enticing and keeping customers. And while they began with just the basics of earning a set goal based on spending, they have expanded to include segmentation, customization and choice.

“Loyalty programs have their beginnings in the airline, hotel and banking industries,” said Bill Hanifin, practice leader, customer engagement and loyalty, at Impact21. “Early adopters in these industries had success with these ‘spend and get’ models. But to connect with today’s highly-informed and digitally-connected customer, loyalty programs need to be transparent, accessible and experiential.”

This means that as customers become more engaged, they desire greater flexibility and ease of achieving and redeeming rewards as well as the ability to easily understand the rewards and program terms.

“Thanks to ever-increasing consumer demands, loyalty programs have evolved to become more personal and more immediate than ever before,”said Sheila Murray, COLLOQUY editor-in-chief and assistant vice president of marketing, global solutions, LoyaltyOne.

“The influx of customer data and many sophisticated ways of analyzing it have allowed retailers to begin shifting from generic, one-size-fits-all rewards, sales and offers to the ability to provide customers with personalized discounts based on factors like their most commonly bought products. All of the data at retailers’ fingertips has also led to more timely communications and offers based on customer shopping patterns or important milestones like birthdays or anniversaries.”

It’s that customer-centric approach that breeds success, according to Tanaka.

“It is important to personalize offerings in order to better accommodate and reach our broad base of guests,” Tanaka said. “We are working to be more targeted with our offerings in order to deliver the one-to-one personalization that we are striving to offer our guests. For example, over the road drivers, regional drivers and RV customers all have very different needs, which change along their journey. Our myRewards offers and incentives need to reflect those differences and offer value to each of those guest types.”

In the two years that Macfood Mart, which operates four stores in Indiana, has offered a rewards program, it has learned that customers enjoy having options.

“We have seen great success with our clubs—particularly any club that involves caffeinated beverages,” said Melinda McDonald, media coordinator at Macfood Mart.

“People really like the versatility of our program. For every gallon you pump or for every dollar you spend in-store, you earn two points that you can spend just like cash. We don’t pick the prizes, the customers do.”

For Quicklee’s, a 15-store chain in upper New York, the desire to gauge where and when their customers shop led to a three-year brand development effort launched in 2017.

“We felt we were missing something that successful retailers were offering—a customer rewards program designed to build customer loyalty and retain a larger share of the market,” said Ken Perelli, Quicklee’s vice president.

The goal was to make a stop at Quicklee’s more rewarding by allowing customers to earn points on any purchase except lottery tickets. The points are available for use for pump or in-store purchases and also feature random bonus points for swiping the rewards card, birthday deals and monthly drawings for gift certificates.

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Why it Might Be Time to Rebrand Your Fast Casual

February 1, 2018

Savvy customers will notice if there’s disconnect between your restaurant and its food.

In the increasingly competitive fast-casual world, keeping up to date does not just mean adding fresh offerings to your menu. It means refreshing your look to keep pace with current trends. As many fast-casual chains of different sizes are discovering, tweaking their design can be a way to attract new customers and build upon the success and message of a brand, taking it to the next stage.

Established in Austin, Texas, in 2011, Verts Mediterranean Grill (originally the “Berlin-inspired” VertsKebap) underwent a change timed with the move of their headquarters to New York City two years ago. Now called Noon Mediterranean, the 19-unit chain now has two locations in Manhattan. The original name Verts was wordplay on vertical and also means green in French, but the company learned that it was hard for people to pronounce and that people did not associate with it. During the yearlong period that Verts made its branding transition, they told the agency they hired, Gin Lane (who helped develop fast casual icon Sweetgreen) that a name change was not a specific part of the makeover. During the process, however, their people at Gin Lane brought up the idea of testing the waters with a new name.

“We said, ‘We’re not married to the name but it’s hard to change direction while you’re fully running,’” co-founder Michael Heyne says. “But when we started to explore that, we knew we needed to change the name, no matter how hard it is in the short-term. We found the [new] name is really incredible for us because it means lunch—it’s witty, symmetric, short, looks really cool, and means bread in Farsi. It has a slightly Middle Eastern connotation, but it’s not too Middle Eastern. In a way it is exactly the balance we want to find with our millennial brand because we’re not playing Arabic music in the restaurant.”

Over a two-year span that was not specifically tied into the rebranding, Noon’s cuisine became more Mediterranean-based, which meant they needed hummus, tahini sauce, falafel, and other ingredients associated with that. They expanded their offerings and evolved some menu items. They focused on increased freshness and quality. They also have a seasonal menu to test out new items. Heyne says they are hearing more and more positive feedback, and while he loves Texas, the move to New York has helped the chain to stay plugged into up-to-the-minute food trends.

Noon also has a completely new color scheme. “The old brand was red, which is a color that is used with food but not a very modern or millennial color,” Heyne says. “Now it’s emerald green and yellow. It’s hard to find those two colors. Sweet Cream is a dark green and we don’t want to copy them, and Cava has a yellow and orange. If you use an orange or yellow alone, it looks like a bakery. And blue alone is not appealing, but both together create a combination that is unique and we can build an identity base off of.”

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Path Of Progress: Justin Nelson

January 30, 2018

Justin has been with Harbor since July of 2015, starting as a Territory Sales Manager and them moved into the Regional Sales Manager role. Continue reading to learn more about his path of progress at Harbor and how he transitioned into his current position.

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

J: My transition into my new position was smooth as I had prior experience as a sales manager, and felt like had great training here at Harbor.


Q: How long have you been with Harbor?

J: I’ve been with Harbor since July of 2015


Q: Any advice for advancing your career at Harbor?

J: Learn as much as you can in all aspects of the business. Work with Territory Sales Managers, Drivers, Store Solutions, Warehouse, Buyers, Credits, Customer Service, Marketing, Accounts Departments.


Q: What roles have you held at Harbor?

J: Before my current position of Regional Sales Manager I was a Territory Sales Manager.


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

J: The want and willingness to learn. This business is always growing and changing and being able to and wanting to learn is key in being successful.

Gen Z’s Food Expectations Set the Bar High

January 29, 2018

Flavor, function and authenticity are key demands from Generation Z.

Gen Z is coming of age, and their food preferences are likely to give food marketers some challenges.

Generation Z, those born 1997 to present, now represent 27% of the U.S. population, a larger group than Millennials, and although only older Gen Zs are entering adulthood, their impact on the food industry is already being felt, finds a new study by The NPD Group, a global information company.

Gen Zs, many of whom were raised by Gen Xers, grew up understanding the purpose of food and how it fits into a well-lived life. As a result this generational cohort has set expectations that food and food brands will follow their needs and not the other way around.

By virtue of their upbringing, Gen Zs are unintentional foodies and were brought up in a culture that talks about, celebrates and entertains with food, according to the recently released NPD report, “Make it Happen for Gen Zs.” They are told at an early age what their food can do for them in terms of functional and nutritional value and not just how it tastes, bringing a new definition to the “value” of food. Gen Zs, like the Millennials, prefer food and beverages with transparent labeling and an absence of artificial ingredients; skeptical of big brands and too many label claims, finds the NPD report, which takes a holistic look at the attitudes, behaviors and voices of Gen Zs.

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Big Year for the Big Game

January 26, 2018

Consumers are expected to spend $15.3 billion on this year’s Super Bowl.

American adults are expected to spend $15.3 billion as an estimated 188.5 million people watch the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl next month, according to the annual survey released by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Projected viewership is the same as last year but total spending is up 8.5% from $14.1 billion in 2017.

“Whether throwing their own party, heading to a friend’s house or gathering at their favorite bar or restaurant, consumers are ready to spend on the big game,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “Super Bowl shoppers will find retailers well-stocked on decorations, apparel, food and all other necessities to cheer on their favorite team.”

Of the 76% of those surveyed who plan to watch the game, 82% say they will purchase food and beverages—up slightly from 80% last year—and the highest in the survey’s history. Those between the ages of 25 and 34 will spend the most of any age group at an average of $118.43.

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