With a unique business strategy designed to fill a void in the foodservice industry, Presenture has positioned itself for great success. The company, a national foodservice sales agency based in Houston, has excelled in helping emerging manufacturers execute their commercial strategies and build ties with local brokers.
Like its up-and-coming clients, Presenture is destined to become a major player in the foodservice world by acting as a much-needed support system for emerging foodservice manufacturers. The company has proven not only that it will have a bright future, but that its services are necessary.
We recently talked with Michael O. Maher, founder and CEO of Presenture, to discuss the upward trajectory of his foodservice company and why its unique business model and customer base make it unlike other companies of its kind. Prior to Presenture, Maher was CEO and founder of Maher Marketing Services, a Texas-based food brokerage company operating in both foodservice and retail; during this time, Maher quickly learned the difficulties smaller manufacturers faced and set out to fill this void. Maher has explained in detail how Presenture first came about, why it works, and what future trends we can expect in this industry.
What did you see in terms of an opportunity for this food brokerage company, and what led to the creation of Presenture?
I had a Houston-based retail/foodservice brokerage company that had five offices in Texas, and I ran that for 20 years. In 2009, the national Kroger broker knocked on my door and bought the company, but before I sold it, I decided to form Presenture after seeing the problems small and mid-size manufacturers face when attempting to take their products to market in foodservice. Having seen smaller manufacturers pushed out of the foodservice arena and have immense trouble finding brokers, I thought I would fill this gap.
Having seen this happen, can you define what it means to be a smaller player in the foodservice arena? What’s the model for this business?
I would say “smaller” in the foodservice arena would certainly be under 50 million in sales. We knew there was going to be a void, and we knew it would completely change the brokerage service industry. So we set about building out a national sales agency that would fill that void for a smaller manufacturer. Our model is to manage local, independent brokers on behalf of the manufacturer. If there’s a small manufacturer with a large national agency, which is rare these days, and that agency decides to resign that line, overnight the manufacturer is left without a sales force. Our model allows us to set this system up for each small manufacturer instead of leaving them stranded. But each of these individual broker contracts is going to be with the manufacturer so that you’re not held hostage by one company.
What does this look like? What do the model and marketplace look like in terms of the type of customer that comes to you looking for this service?
It’s much better for the smaller manufacturer with us involved; the bad news is that the market is challenging for even the independent brokers. For brokers who pioneer a line, that’s so expensive, and typically they’re reluctant to do it. That’s a big hurdle for us, meaning we have to do a couple of things: first thing we have to do is we have to make sure that the products we sell will scale when we get a broker, and that the broker will make good revenue from it. The other thing we have to do is offer this manufacturer a complete package; they come in here, we conduct a go-to-market workshop and we end up with a formal go-to-market plan. We build broker manuals, training brochures and point-of-sale. We have an extensive operator database divided into 65 markets so that we can identify the quality opportunities in each market.
Explain the hierarchy within Presenture; where do sales duties fall?
We have marketing support. We have regional managers, we have business development coordinators and we have customer service; we bring all of these elements to the table. Because of this, emerging manufacturers don’t have to build out an entire sales team with salary, travel and benefits, so it really gives them an opportunity to get into the game. But believe it or not, a lot of companies just can’t afford even what we charge; we have minimum fees that vary, but even with this, a lot of companies just can’t afford anything; so they’re just lost. But if they do come on board, we give them huge savings and speed to market.
How exactly do you go about servicing these really small manufacturers?
When they come to us, the first thing we do is determine if they have a plan. If they have a supply chain, our job then becomes a lot easier. At that point we can basically call on operators and develop the business. If they don’t have a supply chain we’ve got to concentrate on distributor sales and build out a supply chain; it’s a significantly longer process.
Do your clients typically experience greater success after working with you?
We have a lot of success stories. I think it’s important to point out that half of our clients have been with us for over 20 years. We have long-term clients who have been very loyal to us, because we bring results.
What about the type of manufacturer? For those based in the Northeast, is there someone regional here that can work with these Northeast manufacturers?
New manufacturers that come to us typically work with me, which is the most common case, and in some cases if I’m not available at the appropriate time they work with our VP of Sales, Peter Costner. We also have a regional manager in the Northeast – Tara Miranda, based in Boston. However, we’ve resisted giving our regional managers new client responsibilities because we don’t want them to take their eyes off of selling, moving and getting new sales for our existing clients. We want them focused on the sales side of the business.
What trends do you see? The marketplace has changed in terms of how the consumer consumes a “food service product.” What kind of opportunities do you see in your customer base?
One example is we see a big opportunity in colleges and universities; that’s where we like to point these folks. Also, the C-store business is growing very rapidly. The opportunities really depend on each product and each company, which are unique. Employing our expertise will enable the manufacturer to build an effective distribution channel to trigger growth.
To learn more about Presenture, please visit their website.