Mr. Greens, a Miami-based produce distributor that specializes in servicing restaurants, hotels, country clubs and other foodservice establishments, has experienced tremendous growth in its second year of operation under a new owner.
Peter Politis, who purchased the business in August 2011, said his first year was spent mainly changing the culture of the company to become more service oriented, while keeping a close eye on the financial side of the business.
Now, as word has gotten out about the high level of customer service the firm offers, Politis said he is fielding three to four calls per day for new business, and the firm does up to 350 deliveries on a good day.
“Our secret ingredient is that we simply don’t say no,” said Politis. “We will do small orders and run deliveries to a restaurant several times a day if needed. Service is the biggest factor — even more so than price.”
“We are also doing more custom products in response to requests from our customers,” said Nick Politis, Peter’s cousin, who joined the firm a little more than a year ago. “We can offer very specialized products that not many others carry, and as a result we are getting more creative high-end chefs that are looking for new and unusual items.”
Nick Politis said that a year ago, Mr. Greens was virtually unknown, so companies were hesitant to start doing business with the firm.
“But now we have an outstanding rating in the Blue Book (100M XXX A), so people are now seeking us out because they know we are a good business and we pay our bills quickly,” he said.
The staff at Mr. Greens numbers close to 50, and its fleet of delivery vehicles is 19 strong. A year ago, the firm employed 24 people and it had 11 delivery trucks. When Peter Politis bought the firm in 2011, it was staffed by six people and four trucks made deliveries to clients. The sharp increase in staff is an indication of the increased business the firm has experienced.
“We have expanded our radius to 70 miles, and we are doing a lot more business up in the West Palm Beach area,” said Peter Politis.
“Unemployment in this area is two to three times the national average, and we get an average of 10-15 résumés each day from people wanting to come to work here,” said Nick Politis. “We like to think that Mr. Greens is stimulating the area and helping to put more people to work.”
Peter Politis told The Produce News last September that his philosophy is to not rely on any one client for too much revenue, but instead have a more diverse customer base where no one account represents more than 6-7 percent of the business. That way, if a client’s business takes a downturn, it will not have a profound negative impact on Mr. Greens.
That philosophy is still in effect, and in fact has paid dividends for the company.
“If you have a strong balance sheet, you are going to get the best product at the best price,” said Nick Politis. “If you can pay a farmer a week earlier than anyone else, then they are going to want to sell to you and they don’t mind selling for a dollar or two less.”
Nick Politis said that growth has come across the board for Mr. Greens, but high-end country clubs and hotels have been leading the way lately.
“These establishments have creative chefs that use specialty produce and are constantly changing their menus to highlight seasonal items,” he said. “We are willing to seek out those hard-to-find items, and the chefs are taking note of that and our name is getting out there through word of mouth.”
“We are in the stage of basically building our brand,” Peter Politis added. “We have discovered a nice niche between the big guys and the little guys, and that has enabled us to succeed. The bottom line is we are open 24-7, so we can service an account any time of the day or night. Logistically, it is impossible for the big guys to work on a Sunday because it doesn’t fit into their program, but we can do it because we are holding all our own inventory. We’re self-sustaining, so we don’t have to rely on others.”