Marque’s Food Distributors
The foodservice industry is saturated with national conglomerates but in Louisiana, Marque’s Food Distributors has made a name for itself through independent, family ownership and good old-fashioned owner-direct service. With locations in Harvey and Harahan, Louisiana, Marque’s Food also runs Marque’s Food Wholesale Market, offering quality items at wholesale prices without the membership fees of larger retailers.
Over the course of 66 years the company has grown to serve restaurants and foodservice industry clients throughout Louisiana, spanning New Orleans all the way up through the Florida Panhandle. Today, Marque’s Food stocks more than 7,000 skus, yet the company still provides cash-and-carry service and personalized ordering with the care that comes from a family foundation.
Corner store to regional supplier
“I’m a third-generation operator,” says Steven Marque, chief operating officer of Marque’s Food. “My grandparents, Willie and Beatrice Marque started the business in 1949 as a door-to-door delivery company and corner grocery store.”
Their son, Willie, now president and CEO of Marque’s Food, joined the business in 1974 and he began to lead the company down the product distribution road. With just one truck, 15 customers and a limited product line consisting of fresh chicken, eggs and smoked sausages, Willie Jr. began forming Marque’s Food into the food distributor it is today.
He continued to service this segment and grew the company’s product mix to 300 items by 1996. In 1997, his wife, Karen Marque, joined Marque’s Food as chief financial officer.
“I was our fourth employee when I started working full time in 1996,” says Steven. “Working together, my father and I have grown the business ever since. Now we have about 90 employees and four divisions.”
With more than 7,000 items in stock, Marque’s Food now helps respond to the needs of thousands of customers throughout New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
In 2006, the company opened its first market on the west side of New Orleans, Marque’s Food Wholesale Market. “This membership-free market is open to both restaurant clients and the public,” says Steven. “In 2012, we added our second market to service the East Bank side of New Orleans.”
Old school service
From groceries to paper products, pots and pans to fresh produce and much more, Marque’s Food Wholesale markets continue to serve the greater New Orleans metro area with owner-direct service. “We can deliver to our customers just as efficiently and at the same cost as our national competitors,” says Steven. “But our biggest advantage is that when a customer calls they can speak to an owner and get an answer.”
On the distribution side, Marque’s Food now resides in a 48,000-square-foot facility; serving as the hub of the company’s active service channels, many of which still include cash-and-carry and deliveries.
“We’re all about old school service,” says Steven. “For one, we’re still independently owned, which is uncommon in a narrowing set of distributor companies in this area. And two, we’re diversified. We can handle cash-and-carry orders to national accounts in multiple states. We also have a sister dry-blending manufacturing and packaging company called Blend Marque LLC that supplies us with items no one else can get, bringing a level of exclusivity to our product line.”
Attune to its customers’ needs, Steven says Marque’s is always looking to fill voids in the market. “We’re expanding into bakery items – fresh and frozen – as part of the same approach as with the rest of our business, simply helping our customers where we can and where we see the need,” he adds. “We’re also designing greener packaging and procedures for our dry-goods manufacturing.”
Even as the company expands with more sales reps in 2015, Steven says Marque’s Food is looking to keep as much as it can in-house. “Everything from food safety to human resources, we do in-house so we can have greater quality control,” he says.
As more and more independent distributors consolidate or are bought up by national names, Marque’s Food Distributors remains a family-owned fixture in the New Orleans community, dedicated to quality distribution and service that’s second to none.