Just as we were adding the word distribution to our vocabulary in 2011, the ownership at Regional Access was being passed along to the next generation and a couple of long time, dedicated individuals. Like any small business, we see the owners often in our business to business interactions. It’s not unusual to see Dana Stafford, President and GM, behind the wheel of their neatly painted Regional Access tractor trailer picking up those pallets we mentioned before.
If you’re buying our butter at Union Market, your local health food store or co-op, there’s a good chance that that package was delivered by Regional Access. They distribute to stores and restaurants all over New York State and New Jersey. They go above and beyond for their customers, truly. I’ve seen multiple videos of their drivers braving stormy weather in the steep hills of Ithaca.
In addition to Regional Access and Dairy Wagon, we work with several other distributors that deliver our Meadow Butter to stores, restaurants and bakeries to the Metro New York region and a bit into Boston. Each covers a particular or type of customer, like Whole Foods, food-service-only accounts, or even direct home delivery. These distributors are small businesses like ours, playing an incredibly vital role in building a human and community based, quality food system.
In preparation, we drive our leased truck (thank you, DeCarolis) from Hamilton to Food Features in Syracuse, just off the Thruway and pick up a pallet or two of stored product. We head back to homebase and finish loading the truck by hand as loading docks and electric pallet jacks are luxury items out of our reach. Honestly, we’re happy when the walk in freezer isn't blowing snow inside. We also write all of our orders by hand on good old fashioned carbon copy paper so we can track where our cases of Meadow Butter are going.
Every day we’re considering how best to get our product to those who want it. A significant amount of time and thought go into organizing our distribution. With that said, we deliver to only a handful of distributors. Those folks, however, are delivering to hundreds of customers on a weekly basis. Our distributors are good at what they do. They’ve invested in delivery system software that not only incorporate routes designed for trucks of a specific weight and height, but also incorporate back-hauling, cross docking and freighting for other distributors and large accounts. They’re doing their best to maximize their haul and starting their trucks at 2 and 4am when the roads are clear so there’s less traffic that cause their trucks to idle.
Not only do distributors play a vital role in our business getting product from A to the rest of the alphabet, but they also are often the face of our company. The first impression customers have of our glorious butter and crème fraîche is served by their sales teams. They provide a bridge of communication between us and our customer.
In fact, that 1lb roll you love so much can be attributed to our distributor, Solex Fine Foods. After receiving feedback from their customer restaurant, Daniel, we started working on producing rolled butter. The chefs were looking for a specific diameter roll to cut into medallions. One happy accident later, we made 2,000 lbs of rolled butter in the wrong diameter. Turns out, the chefs weren’t the only ones who preferred rolled butter wrapped in white paper.
At a casual event just last week, I saw the owner of Solex, Markus Draxler sampling products, just as I was. Here we both were, on a Wednesday evening after already putting in a full days work, engaging our customers and showing appreciation for their patronage. A few months ago, while I didn’t know it at the time, I watched the former owner of Solex and still a good friend of Markus’ unload a pallet from our truck. I learned later that he started the business by selling langoustines from his homeland in Scotland to high end restaurants in Manhattan.
“It’s not personal, it’s just business” is not a phrase that resonates with us here at Kriemhild. We believe all relationships are personal, including business relationships. We work with the same distributors that we started with in 2012 and 2013. We value their work and respect them as individuals. We’ve gotten to know them, and grow with them and ultimately, like you, they help us do a better job.
Hugs and Butter,
Lindsey, Kriemhild Co-Owner
P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s short reel silent film--it’s a tribute to our main mode of distribution before we started leasing a truck...
As the Butter Churns
Author: Ellen Fagan and Victoria Peila