Though Krasdale Foods Inc. may not be a household name, it is nonetheless one mighty corporation. In fact, the White Plains-based, 110-year-old company is not only the largest grocery distributor in New York City, it is one of its largest privately owned companies, with $675 million in annual revenue. In January, 37-year Krasdale employee Steve Silver was named president of the company that services more than 300 independent supermarkets up and down the East Coast. We spoke with Silver recently, to get a read on the current state of his industry.
As president, is your mandate to keep the ship sailing smoothly, or are you spearheading new initiatives designed to maximize Krasdale’s competitiveness?
It’s a combination. Of course, we need stability and for things to run smoothly. However, like with all businesses, change is required if a company wants to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace. How you go about change is what’s most important. For example, we are in the process of making technological upgrades, including a new in-store coupon-to-card program, and have gone through rounds of testing and feedback to ensure we get it right the first time. We’re also assessing other products and services, to better serve our store owners and increase revenue
How is the dearth of commercial truck drivers impacting the way Krasdale does business day to day?
It has become quite challenging to find workers to fill our manual-labor jobs due to the overall high demand in the market and the lack of skilled talent. As a result, we have taken measures to increase pay to attract top-quality employees. But, that extra money has to come from somewhere. Rather than passing on those cost increases to our customers, which would trickle down to the consumer, we look to cover those costs by utilizing technological advances to streamline our operation.
“While Amazon, Walmart, and Aldi have everyone’s attention, we are focusing on other types of businesses — convenience stores, drug stores, and dollar stores.”
—Steve Silver President, Krasdale Foods Inc.
How has the continued encroachment from online supermarket shopping affected Krasdale? Have you adopted strategies to counteract it?
Competition in the grocery space is tight right now, as everyone is incrementally encroaching on the space. While Amazon, Walmart, and Aldi have everyone’s attention, we are focusing on other types of businesses — convenience stores, drug stores, and dollar stores. One key logistical advantage we have is our Bronx warehouse. Being right in the center of urban New York City, we can deliver our goods quicker and for less money than the competition. We’re also fortunate to have our headquarters in White Plains, which allows us to attract top talent from across the New York area without the high overhead of being based in New York City.
What are some of the emerging trends in your industry?
We are seeing a transformation in the way store owners reach the consumer. We live in a digital age. People shop and do their banking transactions from their phones. It’s no wonder that they want to use their digital devices to get discounts and deals, not flip through in-store print circulars. This is a huge shift in how independent grocery stores have always operated, and we’re working closely with store owners to develop the solutions that are right for their needs and their customers.