The Crosset Buying Food Show Showcases Over 1,600 SKUs, Todd Linsky, Bob Lummis, and Bob Borda Comment
- by Jordan Okumura
CINCINNATI, OH - Set against the backdrop of the Cincinnati skyline and the epic Great American Ballpark, the Crosset Buying Food Show swung for the fences and hit it out of the park again this year. Representing over 1,200 conventional SKUs as well as a diverse selection of over 400 organic SKUs and rising, Crosset’s growth has been accelerating in recent years with plans to capture a larger share of the market as the team keeps their eyes down field.
Tim Shepard, Vice President of Crosset, shares with me, “Crosset is strategically positioned to help our vendors and retail partners thrive in the competitive market and fuel growth within the produce department,” Tim tells me. “Relationships are key to building brand recognition, innovating new products to meet the demands of the value-added or on-the-go consumer, and building better merchandising support and marketing programs for our retail partners. Here at Crosset, you do not just partner with the product, but with the brand, the people, and reputations that have made them industry leaders.”
Back by popular demand, the buying event showcased more than 50 top produce and floral suppliers, with an extended variety of value-added products offered at Crosset, as well as new merchandising components to tap into the growing demand to redefine the produce department.
But first, this year’s show kicked off the “Home Run Event,” with attendees, buyers, and vendors from the produce community converging on the new Handlebar Club in Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, where Harold Lloyd discussed his vision on employee retention. Harold, whose resume includes a tenure as a former President and CEO of a 14-unit retail organization, as well as experience as an area franchise developer for Friendly’s Restaurants in the Tidewater Virginia area, spoke to the value of the individual and power of culture.
Harold also touched on different ways to capture sales and evolve the aesthetic of the retail space. From in-store sampling which can increase the time the consumer spends in the store by 50 percent, to how storytelling creates intimacy with the consumer, Harold brought a host of opportunities for expanding the visibility of a brand, sharing with crowd: "when you educate you ingratiate." Through improvements like bigger but more authentic signage and branding your produce, to cross-merchandising and creating kid-friendly destinations within the store, you can catch a shopper’s attention and engage them throughout the store, creating more opportunities to increase the size of the basket and in turn, increase sales.
We also had the opportunity to hear from former NFL football fullback Elbert L. "Ickey" Woods, who played from 1988 to 1991 with the Cincinnati Bengals. Ickey shared with us his life experiences and the work ethic that carried him through his career and beyond.
Ickey also shared the deep impact of losing his son Jovante Woods, who suffered a fatal asthma attack at their home years ago. That love he had for his son, and in the face of loss, compelled him to found the Jovante Woods Foundation, whose mission is to bring asthma awareness to the community, nation and world, provide asthma screenings, and educate families in need. The foundation also works with Life Center Organ Donor Network to educate all on the importance of organ donation as Jovante was an organ donor who saved many lives upon his passing.
After a morning full of storytelling, insights, laughter, and tears, attendees took a beat, and had lunch and refreshments at the popular Diamond club in the park before heading to the buying show.
Once on the floor, the quality of the product and the people was top notch. From Stemilt, Cal Organic, and Sunkist, to Braga, Organic Valley, Grimmway, Giorgio, and Columbine Vineyards, the product spread was both diverse and complementary to the Crosset portfolio as a whole.
“We pride ourselves on the quality and integrity that we bring to our vendors and to our retail partners,” Bob Lummis, Crosset’s Sales and Merchandising Manager, shared as we walked the show floor. “This show provides a great opportunity to bring our vendors together in one space to inspire new relationships with retailers and support the long-held ones that we are dedicated to and greatly value. Afterall, building relationships, creating opportunities for continued exposure for our suppliers, and driving innovation help set us apart from a rapidly evolving industry that is recognizing more and more, the importance and impact of a hands-on, trusted, wholesale distributor.”
As the show floor wound down, the crowd wound up for the dinner cruise on the beautiful Ohio River aboard BB Riverboats’ Belle of Cincinnati. There is no better way to see the eclectic neighborhoods and architecture that color Cincinnati then from the water’s edge. Perfect ending to a wonderful day.
Todd Linsky, of TLC, echoed the day’s sentiments and shared how the Castellini Group has made a great name for themselves by working hard to understand its partner's business challenges and forging a relationship that strives to overcome them.
“The Castellini name is synonymous with communication and common sense, two traits we sometimes lack in business. The food show is a great example of the effort that the team makes to develop relationships with everyone they deal with,” Todd said, reflecting on the day. “Private events are great opportunities for face time with buyers, merchandisers, and customers. Quality over quantity allows for fluidity and real-time interaction, paving the way for greater understanding. Challenges and issues that you don't necessarily see at the 35,000-foot-level, become clear on the ground. I personally appreciate the effort the team here employs, to make sure this gathering is always a great event. It is a date reserved on my calendar year after year.”
Greg Edenfield, Vice President at Wayfield Foods, Inc., also shared his appreciation and draw to the show, noting that the caliber of quality and access makes the show a must-attend event.
“To be able to see this many strong committed organic companies in one place truly makes the show a destination for us,” Greg said. “Our company is moving more into organics and being able to get to know these companies and see, touch, and really feel the products, is such a benefit.”
Bob Borda, Vice President of Organic Sales, Grimmway Farms, shared, "The Crosset Company is first class operation. Our long-standing, successful relationship is built on the premise of providing premium-quality organic vegetables. The Crosset expo provides us the opportunity to connect with their retail customer base in an intimate setting, and the feedback is priceless.”
Crosset services retailers in nineteen states from its Independence, Kentucky, distribution center. Castellini also offers company-owned transportation equipment and services that insure premium service. With a broadening reach and growing portfolio, Crosset is primed to hit that home run into 2018.