A hundred years ago, Isidore Baum and his brother Samuel teamed to found a company they thought could serve the paper and janitorial needs of Bridgeport and Fairfield County’s thriving manufacturing hubs. As the duo served those factories their route took them to a number of restaurants and local institutions.
The pair could not have known that their small company would later become one of the region’s largest and well-respected supply firms. Three generations later, EBP Supply Solutions lives on as one of the Nutmeg State’s true success stories.
After years of working with Isidore, Samuel bought out his brother and launched a rebranded company with the help of his wife, Sadye. They called this company Eastern Bag and Paper. Over the years, Eastern Bag and Paper expanded and bought out more of its competitors including Salem Paper and City Supply and Paper. It expanded its operations from Connecticut to Massachusetts, New Jersey, northern Virginia and the Washington DC area. Under the tutelage of Samuel and Sadye, and later their son Gerry and his wife Louise, the family-owned enterprise grew and prospered. It began offering its services not only to manufacturers but also restaurateurs, healthcare facilities and other local institutions.
In 2012, the company changed its name from Eastern Bag and Paper to EBP Supply Solutions. “The rebranding was an important statement to the marketplace that we had grown to be so much more than a bag and paper company,” explained their company’s CEO Meredith Reuben.
The company now offers its customers janitorial and paper items, foodservice, laundry and specialized cleaning programs. EBP Supply Solutions, like most other companies that have made it to the century milestone, has gone through several changes over the years. However, the company prides itself on the fact that it has retained its core values.
“Our focus has always been on premium customer service, an appreciation for each of our employees and flexibility,” Reuben added. These are the core values that have seen the company through the past century and what the management hopes will steer it for generations to come.
One of the keys to success for EBP Supply Solutions has been its ability to listen and respond to the changing needs of its customer base. “Our customers face stiffer competition and oversight,” Reuben noted. They challenge us to help them reduce their overall operational costs; providing frictionless service and providing differentiated offerings to THEIR customers. As distributors we need to provide expert thinking, top brands and service and training to our customers to meet their needs.
Also, drawing from its commitment to serving the needs of its customers’ guests and patrons, EBP Supply Solutions recently launched the EBP Training Academy, where it trains cleaning and foodservice organizations on the latest cleaning techniques in the industry. Healthcare providers have also benefited from the disinfectant programs overseen by the Milford-based organization.
For the third generation leader, Reuben notes how people are treated is paramount. “One of our core values is entrepreneurial spirit. Obviously, our founders had great courage, sacrifice and perseverance to continue to establish and grow our company. In addition, there have been many executives and committed staff members who continually demonstrate an entrepreneurial mode of doing business that have made our company successful.
Reuben and her management team recognize that how they nurture their EBP team becomes the template for how the company interacts with its customer base every day. “Treating employees as part of an important member of our team is value number one in our culture. I cannot be a part of every interface with our customers or with the rest of our team for that matter. Given that, we bring the best people into our organization and trust them to make good decisions and empower them to treat the business as if it were their own. If people feel they are valued they will act in support of the overall well-being of the company, which has contributed to our success. In addition, employee loyalty and tenure retains the valuable knowledge and skills we are constantly developing within the company and thus able to best serve our customers.
“Our culture is a win-win attitude and I believe our customers see that in our actions and communications. This fosters customer retention as well,” noted Reuben.
There are a number of national vendors that have come to depend on EBP Supply to bring their latest solutions to their Northeast customer base. “Meredith and her team bring knowledge and passion on behalf of our mills,” noted Creative Sales President Ed Toby.
“I have been working with the EBP team since 1988,” added Bullseye’s Tom O’Toole. “Meredith and EBP have created a team that is dedicated, knowledgeable in all areas and will go the extra mile to ensure their customers have access to the most up to date detail and products from the top manufacturers in the industry.
O’Toole continued: “They are a major force in distribution across several sectors in the Northeast. As market consolidation continues, the role of distribution continues to evolve. The need for distribution that is consultative, and provides training has become more important with every passing day. Our goal is to work hand in hand with our top distribution partners to provide training, accurate information and professional sale support in our trading area.”
St. Louis, MO based Anchor Packaging has enjoyed a 30 plus year working relationship with EBP. “We look to them for their industry knowledge and commitment to excellence, noted Anchor spokesperson Marilyn Stapleton. With an increase in competition, distributors are no longer just order takers. They are charged with introducing innovative and/or cost savings items and measures. They realize that they must continually evolve and become master consultants to their customers. Anchor has had the pleasure of collaborating with EBP and sharing our manufacturing expertise and industry knowledge with them,” Stapleton concluded.
Gene Hartman and Ron Novicio of Dart have worked side by side with EBP Supply for over a decade. “Meredith has always been driven by achieving success in all her business initiatives,” said Hartman, “She likes to keep the organization a private family run company focusing on the customer. Meredith has retained many long term employees who consider EBP as a good career choice and not a job.
For many of the reps and mills the relationship with EBP Supply has grown through the decades. “The relationship between EBP and Pactiv is a long-standing relationship that goes back through generations of leadership with both companies,” noted Daniel Henderlight. Passed down through that leadership at Pactiv has been an admiration for the Reuben family that is based on an honesty and integrity in their business dealings. “At Pactiv we often use EBP as the example of a true strategic partner,” the company’s VP Commercial, Foodservice Distribution added.
“Meredith Reuben and her leadership team have always fostered a culture of accountability and trust with their internal colleagues, customers and supplier partners alike,” noted Pactiv’s national sales manager Brian Carlsen. “At Pactiv we also admire that EBP continues to invest in their business to stay ahead of trends that drive profitable growth. As our industry continues to evolve it is imperative that we work together to innovate and find ways to help our ultimate customers succeed. We are so thankful to have a partner like EBP that we can work with to drive those innovations. The combination of culture and innovation makes EBP truly unique in our industry.”
As the company celebrates its 100th anniversary, its leaders remain optimistic about its future in an ever-changing global market. Among the major changes that EBP has championed is its customer’s move towards green and sustainable solutions. “Our goal is to ask the right questions so that we understand if the customer is looking to compost or recycle or do they have another objective,” Reuben said. Once we understand that, we can match the foodservice packaging and or cleaning options that best meet that goal. We take that same approach with the other product categories we offer, whether it be our green warewash program, a can liner offering made from recycled farm irrigation tubing or any of the other product categories to help our customers shine and be successful.
EBP Supply Solutions plans to embrace technology and modern innovations in the industry to remain the best in their niche. This spirit of flexibility will help EBP Supply Solutions adapt to ensure that their customers get the outstanding service they deserve.
The customer experience is a top priority for EBP, and the company has made substantial investments in technology with two main goals in mind: “First, EBP leverages technology to improve its overall efficiencies and ensure we have the products our customers want when they need them,” Reuben said.
Secondly, EBP wants to ensure our customers are empowered with accurate, useful information that can be used to help them make good decisions. That includes robust online product search capabilities, easy online ordering, purchase history, order tracking, purchases versus budget comparisons, web ordering, etc.
“Embracing change is how we’ve been able to become a 100 year old company,” added Reuben. “These forces will change the way consumers eat and work and we will continue to be a leader in adapting to those changes. Even though drones and electric trucks might not make sense today, we know that drastic change is coming that will impact our customers’ businesses and what we need to do to serve them.”
With that attitude and commitment it may not be too soon to check your email for the invite to EBP’s future milestone celebrations.
To learn more about EBP Supply Solutions, please visit their website.