Sun Fresh Food Service Inc.
Brothers Frank and John Catanzaro founded Sun Fresh Food Service Inc. (SFF) in 1978 as a small produce business in western Pennsylvania. Over the years, the business has grown significantly into a full-service produce wholesaler. Today, SFF is in its second generation of family ownership and operation. Jarett, John’s son and now president of SFF, now proudly leads the company.
“I took over a few months ago when my uncle, Frank, retired,” Jarett notes. “I’ve been involved with the business since I graduated high school. I started working here and never looked back. I really enjoy my time here, although the hours can be challenging. Our family has been in this industry for several generations. My father and uncle worked as brokers before starting the company and my grandfather did as well.”
Jarett oversees a team of 35 people working from a single location in Pittsburgh. Out of the warehouse, the business supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to regional independent grocers. SFF serves the tri-state area, catering to customers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and as far into Ohio as Cleveland.
As a wholesaler, SFF deals with some competition on both a local and national level. “There are several of us serving this area,” Jarett explains. “To stay ahead, we have to do a better job. We focus on service to meet that goal. We have a strong customer base and we build business on independent grocers. Most companies focus on the chains, but we have a diverse mix of customers. As long as the quality and service is there, we can keep our existing customers and attract new ones.”
SFF strives to offer products and services based on clients’ needs. As an important link in customers’ supply chains, the company has built strong relationships with suppliers. “Buying is an important part of what we do here,” Jarett notes. “We have been doing business with many of the same people for a long time. For the most part, we are bringing product in and shipping it out, though we do perform some repacking and private label work for our customers.”
The company offers a broad line of quality fruits and vegetables. Product offering is fairly consistent, although Jarett notes that there is some flexibility to meet consumer trends. More often, changes to the business involve upgrades to facilities and equipment. “We are always doing something,” Jarett elaborates. “We get new coolers, we fix equipment; it is a constant product. In this industry, we have to upgrade as we go along. There is a lot of housekeeping to be done and we are always looking to increase business through efficiency so we can keep moving forward.”
As a supplier in the grocery market sector, Jarett explains that his business was not as ill-affected as other companies throughout the recession. “We felt it a little bit, but our business has been pretty steady,” he says. “People always have to eat. We have seen business go up and down a little bit, but there are always ups and downs. Supply and demand drives our business.”
In the food business, issues in the supply chain tend to be beyond the control of suppliers and buyers. Instead of worrying about the price of peppers, Jarett and his team focus on the aspects of business they can control. SFF strives to build lasting relationships with both customers and strategic partners, boosting the company’s ability to offer value and reel in repeat business.
While the company has grown significantly over the years, a few basic principles remain the same. The crew focuses on safety, quality and accuracy, building a customer experience that is memorable for its reliability. To maintain those values, the team utilizes technology to improve efficiency, such as a sophisticated inventory management module that allows SFF to provide customers with accurate records of purchases. The business also offers an online ordering system through a customer portal on the website. Clients can log on, build an order and hit send. SFF takes care of the rest.
In the coming years, Jarett says the focus on technology with be consistent with growth. He and the team will continue to leverage improved systems in order to improve service and efficiency. “We are always looking for new business,” he notes. “We have been her ea long time.” After more than 35 years, the business has built a reputation in the industry. Time and again, customers keep their business with Sun Fresh Food Service Inc., because they know that Jarett and his team can be trusted to offer leading value in the local market.