A Century of Achievements
By Barbara Young, Editor-In-chief
Celebrating 100 years in business, FL-based Boar’s Head Provisions is defined as a revered company governed by a deep commitment to product quality and customer service.
There are few meat companies more mysterious about their business affairs than Sarasota, FL-based Boar’s Head Provision Co. Inc.
“We are a family business that flies well below the radar,” a company representative admits.
Among other operating strategies, this represents the cornerstone of Boar’s Head’s growth into a company celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
“Boar’s Head is committed to only selling the best products, by aligning itself with independent grocers in a complete partnership arrangement involving exclusive sales of its meats and cheeses,” affirms Bonnie Barrett, director of bakery and deli operations, for California-based Holiday Quality Foods. Holiday began carrying Boar’s Head products exclusively in 2004.
The Boar’s Head legacy started in 1905, when founder Frank Brunckhorst mapped his distribution territory in Brooklyn, NY, to introduce distinctive delicatessen products. At the time, Boar’s Head was the brand for the products delivered by a horse-drawn wagon to small delicatessens and “mom and pop” stores in the greater New York City area.
Like other entrepreneurs with insight and vision setting them apart from their counterparts, Brunckhorst soon learned that the quality of his products depended upon starting with the very best raw material. To that end, no by-products, cereals and other fillers, nor artificial flavors or colors were added to the meat and cheese products. Moreover, the recipe for meat products included only pure beef, turkey, chicken, and pork, combined with authentic spices. Struggling to maintain this standard — because “quality cooked hams” were not available — forced Brunckhorst to open his own processing plant by the 1930s. Brunckhorst and three employees managed to keep up with the growing demand for his brand of specialized products produced in a small Brooklyn building.
Brunckhorst’s professional acumen seeded today’s business generating an estimated $1.2 billion annually. Besides meat processing and distribution, the company also comprises a delicatessen support services unit. Five manufacturing plants operate in Holland, MI; Forrest City, AR; and Virginia at Jarratt and Petersburg.
Product quality, a safe workplace, and food safety define the Boar’s Head production philosophy. The company’s food-safety program operates under the auspices of a quality assurance team of 34 professionals. The program includes comprehensive microbiological testing, separation between cooked and raw operations, and purified air filtration systems for removing potential airborne contaminants.
The company conducts internal food-safety audits, but also uses independent laboratory services. Its Holland, MI, and Petersburg, VA, facilities placed in the 2005 annual safety recognition awards co-sponsored by the American Meat Institute Foundation and the National Safety Council, which generates statistical analyses of plant injury and illness data.
Although mystique defines this private family business, as Barrett describes, there is nothing mysterious about its attention to details in dealing with retail partners.
Holiday Quality Foods now offers Boar’s Head products exclusively in 10 of its 23 retail branches, thanks to last year’s partnership agreement. “They [Boar’s Head] put a lot of upfront time and money into setting up the program,” Barrett says. “A full month of training took place at each store. That’s why we could not roll out the program at all of them at once.”
Holiday Quality Foods, a locally owned and operated neighborhood grocery store chain in northern California, features a full-service deli department with cold sliced meats, several sandwich cheese varieties, salads, and a specialty cheese selections. Its operating motto promises the friendliest service, while providing the freshest meat and produce available. In that regard, Holiday Quality Foods and Boar’s Head Provision aspire to identical standards of operating quality.
Boar’s Head’s stated corporate mission is to continue its recognition as the leading provider of “exceptional customer service and superior quality delicatessen products” in a commitment embracing continuous improvement of “time honored” traditional processes and employee dedication.
Maintaining a leadership position mandates that Boar’s Head’s distribution channels also operate above reproach by leaving nothing to chance concerning product quality and customer service. “Boar’s Head wants its products in a place where they stand out as the best,” Barrett says. “We wanted products offering high quality and uniqueness that would set us apart from the major retail chains. Also, we knew Boar’s Head products would help us keep up with the changing nature of the retail industry.”
As a 30-year veteran in the food retail business, Barrett understands fickle consumers and competitive marketplace pressures. Besides the exclusive arrangement with Boar’s Head for its products, Holiday Quality Foods repositioned its deli products to market them as “gourmet” food. Moreover, the Boar’s Head products are sold in Holiday stores servicing mid-to-high income shoppers.
“We continue to see an increase in our sales,” Barrett says. “We have good response from our customers about the Boar’s Head line. They appreciate the high quality.” NP