The future is bright for Jordano’s Foodservice.
As the celebrations wind down on the company’s 100-year milestone, the opportunities for growth and expansion are ramping up. The second part of The Scoop’s two-part series on their centennial anniversary, this volume continues the conversation with CEO, Pete Jordano. We also spoke with President of Jordano’s and Pacific Beverage Company (PBC), Jeff Jordano, to learn how recent expansion projects, the broadening of product lines and industry shifts are sharpening the outlook for an exciting future.

Scoop: You’ve shared recently that expansion efforts for Jordano’s Foodservice will open up opportunities and space, but is this the start of greater initiatives?

Pete Jordano: It’s fitting that during our anniversary year we began a project – of pretty sizeable proportions – that positions us more solidly for the future. By October 2015, our expansion efforts will provide Jordano’s Foodservice 10,000 additional square feet of freezer space for our supplier’s products. In late 2016 or early 2017, Jordano’s Foodservice will pick up another 30,000 square feet and take over the entire block of our current company location off Patterson Avenue in Santa Barbara shared with our sister company, PBC. Freezer space and bulk storage are our biggest needs right now and these moves address those growing pains. That says a lot about the growth of foodservice.

This is the first time in our company’s history that the foodservice side of Jordano’s has surpassed the sales of PBC. We recognize what is on the horizon – our analysis tells us where we need to be and we are willing to make the changes to plan for growth.

We like to control our own destiny. For instance with the increasing popularity of local craft brews, we adapted; we acquired the distribution rights to sell Figueroa Mountain, the fastest growing local player to give us a big one-two punch along with Firestone-Walker which is now one of the top craft brewers in the nation. We sold 5,000 cases of Figueroa in the first month we took them on. We’re willing to make changes. We’re looking to acquire a coffee roaster and a meat company; when those opportunities arise, we feel well positioned to act.

Scoop: What is Jordano’s doing to remain forward-thinking and stay ahead of each trend?

Pete: California has the nation’s largest Hispanic population where Hispanics make up more than 40 percent of the population. That is a strong market. A year and a half ago we took on Jarritos, a soft drink product from Mexico. We sell 20,000 cases a month. Sure, there are a lot of other beverage types hitting the market, but you can’t just say all soft drinks are going away when we are growing in this area.

We keep a close eye on the market. But to identify new trends, that is precisely the point of Jordano’s popular Food Show. The majority of our vendors attend, and it gives them tremendous exposure while helping us and our customers see what’s coming around the corner.

Scoop: Do you see Jordano’s expanding its regional outreach – i.e. taking over the California foodservice market?

Pete: We want to be the best not the biggest. We have already expanded into L.A. and Kern Counties and are looking at Fresno, but have no plans to move out of state. We want to be a quality house with local suppliers. Our strong relationship with our suppliers is one of the reasons we have been successful. Although the broker industry is changing, when our suppliers sell on our behalf they know that we are not going to switch to other labels. We depend on our suppliers, and our loyalty is to our suppliers – we are an extremely loyal company. Heck, in 100 years we’ve been with two banks. We’ve been with our accounting firm for over 55 years and our law firm for 58 years. We have a business philosophy of clearly communicating our needs to those that we work with and it’s been successful for us.

Scoop: When you look toward the future of Pacific Beverage and Jordano’s Foodservice, what do you see?

Pete: To be honest, when I look toward the future, it scares the hell out of me. I’m 80; I worry that my end is near. I ran into an old customer in the Valley whom I’ve known for 45 years. He asked me if I was still working. I told him I was and he said, “Pete, we’re the luckiest guys! Our vocation is our vacation.” He’s right. I love what I do, and that really expressed for me where I am.

But, Jordano’s is geared to move forward. I can’t say with certainty that there will be another Jordano generation beyond Jeff, but we have a strong succession plan, and I am confident in our Board of Directors.

The family tradition continues: Jeff Jordano
Scoop: Your father, Pete, has talked about succession planning. What do you believe will keep Jordano’s on pace for the future?

Jeff Jordano: To be in a family-owned business, you really have to enjoy and feel comfortable with all the relationships with your employees and take pride in building a great culture and company. Ultimately for me, and for my father, too, that is one of the things we are most proud of building – a great culture and longevity in our employees. I know I’m not inventing Google or rocket ships, but I feel great that we provide employment for close to 600 people, have great benefits and take good care of people. There is something gratifying about that, and I don’t think that happens everywhere.

Scoop: What have you gleaned from him as a leader?

Jeff: I went to great universities…earned my MBA from Duke, and the class we thought was a waste of time – Organizational Behavior – ended up being one of the things central to my daily business. My father believes in building relationships and is very good at it. Day to day, we make good business decisions – but the most challenging and rewarding thing simply involves people.

Scoop: What are the biggest challenges in your sights?

Jeff: Managing the myriad of capital projects that includes designing and building a new warehouse for PBC and expanding our freezer for foodservice. Overseeing the facility for PBC, and a list of capital projects planned for the next five-to-seven years not only means managing them, but being prudent about the investments we’re making. The challenge is making sure we are not stretching ourselves too thin. But we’ve weathered storms before, and I feel like if we can make good decisions through a tough recession, we can make good decisions well into the future.

The threat today in business comes from radical disrupters such as companies that digitize the delivery of some product, think Kodak film. The good thing about our business is that people will always eat and drink and you can’t digitize that. But having the right combination of products and services to meet our customer’s needs is always at the forefront. I don’t envision us ever losing sight of that. What can I say, our future is very bright, and we’re extremely thankful.

By Micholyn Fajen, PCG Marketing
Pictured above: Jaime & Jim Dietenhofer of Figueroa Mountain Brewing (opposite ends), and Jeff & Pete Jordano (center)