As President and Chief Operating Officer of Rich Products Corporation, Richard Ferranti is responsible for overseeing Rich’s five regional businesses: the United States/Canada Region (including the In-Store Bakery, Foodservice, Ingredients and Consumer Brands divisions), Asia Pacific Region, Latin America Region, Europe/Middle East Region and Africa Region.
A Rich’s associate since June 1986, Ferranti has held various positions throughout the Rich Products organization and has considerable experience in managing organizational expansion, negotiations, and employee leadership and development. Prior to becoming COO, Ferranti spent five years as president of Rich’s North America Business Group. Before that, he also served 10 years as president of Rich’s International Business Group.
The Canisius College graduate is involved with several industry associations, including serving as the Chairman of the Board of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) in 2015 after numerous years as a board member and the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara.
With his recent promotion to the top post at Rich Products, TFS reached out for Ferranti’s insight into his vision for the Buffalo based firm and the foodservice industry.
Foodservice has always been a priority for Rich Products versus the traditional 50/50 split with retail/grocery that we usually see. How does Rich Products approach the marketplace, specifically K-12, pizza, and bakery?
Foodservice remains a priority for us, both in the US and globally, where foodservice is rapidly growing. In the US, we have a dedicated and specialized focus against K-12 and that remains a key part of our growth strategy. It’s important that we’re able to understand and support the evolving needs of the K-12 industry. Our priority is to provide great tasting products that meet the needs and demands of our operators and ultimately, students.
On an ongoing basis, we’re active in organizations like NACUFS; we partner with customers in our Innovation Center; we host an annual conference each summer at our World Headquarters to better understand changing needs of the industry and to test new concepts. This activity provides us with opportunities to interact face-to-face with influencers and key industry leaders so we can stay in tune with their needs and deliver solutions that work.
You’ve been entrusted to fill some very large shoes that have spanned generations. What are the priorities on your agenda and are you looking at any new technologies or digital solutions?
Rich’s has been tremendously successful for nearly 75 years. My goal is to continue to fulfill the mandate of our ownership – to remain a family company and be successful over the long term. It’s important to note though, that our strategic path isn’t changing. Bill and I have worked together for more than 30 years. The current direction of Rich’s is a product of both our collective thinking and our partnership, which has been driving the organization for quite some time already. What you can expect is that we’ll continue to build a strong culture that develops its own people; we’ll remain customer-focused, we’ll grow by driving innovation and we’ll leverage our agility to strengthen our global footprint.
What do you see as the most common needs of your foodservice customer and how do you create solutions at scale to maximize your value to your customers?
We hear it over and over… our Foodservice customers need innovation. They also need suppliers that understand their environment and the unique challenges they face. The two really go hand-in-hand – those who create relevant solutions with these in mind will win.
Another challenge we hear from our Foodservice customers is around labor – costs, skills and availability. Everything we do must keep that in mind.
Additionally, from e-commerce and the takeout/delivery disruption to the rise of prepared foods in traditional retailers, the evolution of these alternative channels is changing the way the segment must think and compete.
Our job is to develop products and solutions to help our customers attract and retain their core consumers, while developing new products to meet the changing needs of the segment.
What role do your distribution partners play in your ability to serve your customers and how are they helping you keep Rich Products from becoming a commodity business?
Our distribution partners are key in our ability to best serve our customers. The more we understand their unique challenges, the better we’re able to deliver an experience that works best for them. This includes everything from understanding warehouse constraints to the ability to provide them with timely digital content. Strong, proactive communication and a win-win mentality are the recipe for success.
To learn more about Rich’s and Rich Products, visit their website.