Nicholas Papanier is the founder of a wholesale meat and provisions distributor. He first got involved with wholesale food distribution by answering an ad in the newspaper when he was in his early 20s. With his passion for delivering quality products and treating his customers right, he found himself quickly successful.
After being in that business for about 20 years, the opportunity to buy into a sandwich shop appeared. The demand for the product became overwhelming and franchising the business was the way to go. Within the first 10 years, there were stores in six states. Now there are over 90 shops throughout several states.
He believes that a business must continue doing the things that work, as well as treating everyone fairly; in return this comes back to you. Taking no for an answer is a short cut to a short career.
One of Mr. Papanier’s passions is traveling abroad. Nicholas Papanier has been to Italy at least seven times and enjoys visiting restaurants and wineries while there. Experiencing food and wine outside of the US is always at the top of his “Bucket List”. He also has a love for classic and antique cars.
How did you get started in the business? What inspired you to do so?
I wanted to work for myself. I thought my hard work would allow me to control my destiny and allow me to build a business that I could be proud of and provide a quality of life for me and my family.
What is the Business Model for the Distribution business?
The Distribution business is similar to most distribution business models. We source high quality products and manufacturers who can provide consistent high quality provisions relative to our customers needs. We distribute these products throughout the Eastern Seaboard to retail food establishments such as Deli’s, Sandwich Shoppes, Food Markets,etc. We are very “Customer Centric” and pride ourselves on providing amazing customer service.
How long did it take for your wholesale company to become profitable?
Similar to many new start-ups, we experienced a “Ramp Up” period of approx. 12 to 18 months. During that ramp up period, we focused on adding new customers to each delivery route that we established to get efficiency in distribution.
When you were first starting out on your own, was there a time that you doubted this was going to work? If so, how did you handle it?
I really never had a doubt. I always thought positively and I always had the confidence in my decision. I wasn’t going to accept defeat or failure. I realized that there would always be obstacles, however, every day I would look forward to identifying the obstacles and looked forward to overcoming them, one by one…I also believe that if you don’t make mistakes, you are not trying hard enough.
How did you get your first customer?
I made a list of the possible accounts that would use the products I was distributing. I took to the streets and knocked on doors. I always brought in sample products and let them know that I would take care of them like they have never been taken care of before from a distributor, and in turn, assist them in understanding how to manage their costs and be more profitable. Once I secured my first account, I went into other stores and shared the success from the first few customers.
What is one marketing strategy, besides referrals that you’ve found is working really well to generate new business?
Quality needs no explanation. Instead of talking about the product, or what value there is, I preferred to provide samples and let them try it for themselves. It is certainly a little more costly, but it is never better that when it is “Free”. Just let the product speak for itself. We don’t put something out until we are satisfied that we’ve really got something we believe in first and adds value to our line of products and is in demand in our market.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in business in the last few months?
The business model in every business is always subject to change. As we continue to grow, like many businesses, we must plan for growth, not only financially, but identifying a successor to the family business is always a tough decision. Although I have only one son, the selection process was easy, however, I wanted to be sure it is what he really wanted to do. Fortunately, he loves the business as much as I do. Planning to step away is the toughest decision I had to deal with.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I have a passion and excitement about this business, and I want to help others succeed. I don’t ever let “ego” get in the way of my decision making process. Maintaining quality standards with the products we serve and never compromising has been a key to our success and the foundation for our culture.. Consistancy builds trust. For over 30 years, that trust continues to grow and our track record can easily speak for itself.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Enjoying the growth of the business and providing the opportunity for my family and my employees to grow with us has been extremely rewarding to me. Sometimes the simplest
A compliment from a customer means the world to me.
What does the future hold for your company and what are you most excited about?
I believe our commitment to originality, consistency, quality, growth and expansion will continue. We’re based on the East Coast, and we’re still expanding. We will always be consistent in our quest for quality and “Best In Class” service to all of our valued customers. We’re going to keep doing what we do and just keep growing.
Are there any business books that inspired you?
Although I am not an avid reader, one of my favorite books is “Blue Ocean Strategy” authored by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne .This book challenges everything you thought you knew about success. It argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Lasting success comes from creating blue oceans and untapped new opportunities, ripe for growth.
What is a recent purchase that you’ve made to help with your business?
We have invested in expanding our footprint and added over 200% more space in our warehouse and distribution facility. Additionally, we have expanded our infrastructure and filled several key positions with industry experts.