“We’re always learning. Our customers are teaching us. They are tremendous professors.” -Patricia Bible
Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have received much of the press. But what about the suppliers behind the pizza joints, Thai carry-outs, and doughnut shops? How are the distributors fairing? Well, at least one of them is thriving through tough times. Patricia Bible, owner and CEO of KaTom Restaurant Supply in Kodak, TN, joins Jason to discuss the other side of the hospitality industry. The company’s success is rooted in its dynamic leadership and service-oriented culture.
“It’s been a very different last twelve months. We’ve seen lots of things change, and we have had to dig deep within ourselves to become better and to look at the world through a different set of eyes.” In speaking with Patricia, one feels that she doesn’t spend too much time dwelling on the past. Since KaTom’s inception, the company has strived to meet the future earlier than everyone else.
That philosophy might have spelled doom for any husband and wife team with little distribution experience. For Patricia and her late husband Tim, it just meant they had to work a little smarter than their competitors. They even worked smarter than the supply chain expert they hired to help with KaTom’s first big warehouse set-up. The big shot didn’t survive. KaTom, on the other hand, continues to thrive.
Although talk of expansion is a perennial KaTom conversation, Patricia prefers everyone - including her grown children - under the same 160,000 roof for now. “I can get up from my desk, be in the distribution center in six to seven minutes [and] walk the entire distribution center several times a day, see what the pain-points are.” That accessibility fosters trust and long-term loyalty in the trenches as well as in the C-suite.
But she’s not counting exclusively on the old guard for the next new ideas. Instead, Patricia’s actively courting Millennials into the restaurant distribution industry through internship programs with local universities and outreach via KaTom’s retail facility. “I think [Millennials] are the most brilliant individuals because they’re not afraid of anything,” she explains. “It’s really refreshing. We have enjoyed it immensely.”
Patricia is as passionate an advocate for the industry that has provided her family with its livelihood. She’s participated in FITA - The Federation of International Trade Associations - leadership activities and programs for many years. She credits FITA speakers with teaching her more about supply chain management than anyone else. “[FITA] has revolutionized KaTom,” she says. Smart money says KaTom’s achievements are 70/30 due to Patricia’s exceptional guidance.
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Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.
This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.
Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.