Merchants Foodservice: The Sleeping Giant Wakes Up;At 100, Southeast Broadliner Nears $200 Million

For Merchants Foodservice, the erstwhile sleeping giant distributorship based in Hattiesburg, MS, spring came in the mid-1980s, when its management team decided to unabashedly dive into foodservice distribution.

The fateful shift from retail to commercial and noncommercial foodservice, current executives believe, has not only kept the regional broadliner in business but converted the lethargic enterprise into a worthy competitor in its seven-state southeastern marketplace.

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Merchants Foodservice

Hattiesburg, MS

Year founded: 1904
President/ceoDonald B. Suber
EVP/cooAndrew B. Mercier
2003 Sales$165 million
Anticipated 2004 sales$195 million
TerritoryAL, MS, LA, AR, FL Panhandle, West TN, West GA
No. of Accounts5,500
No. of SKUs5,000
Future growth target15-20%
No. of DSRs, ISRs, DSMs65 (total)
No. of Drivers131
Distribution center sizeJackson, MS: 227,000 sq.ft.; Clanton, AL: 100,000 sq.ft.
AffiliationFrosty Acres Brands