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Food distributor hopes to break into OC market

OCEAN CITY, MD (May 7, 2010)—U.S. Foodservice, the nation’s second largest food distribution service, is looking to become a major player in the hospitality industry on the Maryland resort coast.

The company made that clear Wednesday, when it held its first big trade show in Ocean City, Md., preceded the night before by a massive cocktail party for potential customers.

“We wanted to introduce ourselves to the market,” Vice President of Marketing Charlie Conwell said. “We came so people understand they have more options than in the past.”

President Thomas McGettigan hoped to see as many as 4,000 members of the hospitality industry attend the show to check out the variety of gourmet and specialty food products and equipment U.S. Foodservice offers.

The company had a small presence in Ocean City last summer but decided to ramp up its marketing efforts this year after rival distributor Lankford Sysco cancelled its annual trade show in the resort (Sysco, of which Lankford Sysco is a part, in the nation’s largest food distribution company).

McGettigan hoped to show the Ocean City market that U.S. Foodservice has more to offer than its competitor and will become a partner with the local hospitality community.

“We want to become more of a partner with the restaurants than in the past,” he said.

U.S. Foodservice distributes food, equipment and supplies to more than 250,000 customers nationwide from more than 60 distribution centers across the country. Clients include restaurants, hotels, government facilities, military bases and more.

“We always try to stay on the cutting edge of the food business with our products,” Conwell said.

The sheer volume of food services in Ocean City attracted the company to the resort, he said. Once more establishments sign on as clients, he hoped word would spread about what the company has to offer.

“We are attracted to Ocean City because there are a lot of restaurants, a lot of business down here,” McGettigan said. “We’ve never really gone after new business as hard as we are here in Ocean City.”

The company holds an annual trade show in Atlantic City, N.J., that McGettigan said is the biggest food distributor show in the country. That show attracts around 18,000 attendees each year, he said, and though the company is just breaking into the Ocean City market, he hopes the local show will grow in size in future years.

“As we grow in the area, everything we do here will grow,” Conwell said. “We’re just starting out here, trying to get people to understand who we are and what we can do for them,” McGettigan said.

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