McLane Explores Long-Term Solutions Following Pandemic-Driven Challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a near stop in early March 2020, but while schools, offices and entertainment venues shuttered, convenience stores kept operations going.

Continuing to serve its customers and communities while dealing with a health crisis was not easy, and the struggles continued notably in the form of supply chain disruption when the cities and states across the country lifted lockdown orders. More than three years later, some hiccups still exist.

“In our post-pandemic reality, the supply chain is stabilizing considerably, yet many businesses are continuing to grapple with the lasting effects of disruption to the convenience industry,” said Tony Frankenberger, CEO of McLane Co. Inc. “Global supply chain challenges profoundly impacted every facet of our ecosystem, and the industry came to a collective realization that the supply chain was more fragile than many businesses had anticipated. This realization prompted significant learning that reshaped our perspectives on operations, the workforce and long-term partnerships.”

In the months following March 2020, Temple-based McLane tapped into real-time data and advanced analytics to forecast scenarios and make informed decisions, ultimately prioritizing operational excellence, workforce stability and strategic partnerships, according to the company. As a result, the company established a stronger and more resilient system — leaving McLane better equipped to navigate future disruptions.

[Read more: McLane Trade Show Engages Convenience Channel at https://csnews.com/mclane-trade-show-engages-convenience-channel]

From an operations standpoint, McLane optimized inventory management, order fulfillment and logistics using advanced technology, ensuring streamlined operations and increased productivity.

At the same time, it focused on attracting and retaining top talent with competitive compensation packages, comprehensive training programs and ongoing professional development opportunities.

“In parallel, we continued to foster transparent communication and collaboration in the industry, strengthening our strategic partnerships with suppliers and retailers. This allowed us to share insights and proactively address challenges, resulting in a more cohesive and interconnected supply chain,” Frankenberger said.

“Going forward, we have the opportunity to align goals, measurements and processes across the industry to achieve a higher level of coordination and synchronization to the benefit of our businesses, partners and customers alike,” he added.

Meeting Future Obstacles

According to Frankenberger, the convenience store industry must remain extremely agile, forward-thinking and more prepared than ever to meet the challenges of any future disruption.

Turning to solutions like advanced data and analytics tools during and after the pandemic — and continuing to invest in those tools — can have a “significant impact across an enterprise, including in supply chain network design and engineering, facilities design and engineering, operations and transportation,” he noted.

“Predicting possible disruption is futile without the ability to respond to it,” the chief executive said. “Thus, using data-driven insights to take decisive action ensures continuous operations at the highest level, and that in a period of disruption, we maintain excellence for our customers.”

To that end, McLane addressed storage capacity, increased its fleet of vehicles, established new domiciles and a new distribution center, and implemented new standard operating procedures since the pandemic.

The pandemic did not just give rise to supply chain disruptions; it also gave rise to labor woes across industries. Citing October 2023 data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Frankenberger pointed out that are still 1.4 million fewer Americans working than in February 2020.

“Having a stable and reliable workforce is the foundation of a successful supply chain, and addressing the labor shortage requires a multipronged approach to boost both retention and hiring,” he said. “In our industry, retention translates to improved safety and efficiency, and it is our responsibility to maintain excellent standards for both regardless of the labor climate.”

To help combat the labor challenges, McLane has taken steps to attract new teammates and retain its existing ones. For example, the company now explores different driver classifications outside Class A in certain markets for operating box trucks as opposed to full tractors. It also invested in technology to provide similar flexibility to our existing teammates. 

Above all, Frankenberger said, the pandemic underscored the necessity of transparency and real-time visibility on performance throughout the supply chain ecosystem. “Communication within the supply chain ecosystem has undergone a significant transformation. We collaborate more closely now with retailers and suppliers, establishing shared goals and implementing measures to ensure sufficient inventory in anticipation of shortages,” he said. “These relationships are based on honesty and accountability, with each business taking ownership for their part in the supply chain and informing industry partners when challenges arise.”

McLane is one of the largest distributors in the United States, serving convenience stores, mass merchants and chain restaurants. It operates more than 80 distribution centers and one of the nation’s largest private truck fleets, and provides adult beverage distribution through its subsidiary, Empire Distributors. McLane is a wholly owned unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

McLane was named the 2023 Category Captain for General Merchandise by Convenience Store News.

Source: Convenience Store News

Convenience Is Transforming Faster Than Ever

“It’s the right moment for McLane to truly transform,” said Eric Hildenbrand, chief strategy officer for McLane Company. “We want to use the past to drive us forward.”

When it comes to McLane, that can be taken both figuratively and literally. With an origin story dating back to 1894, there are a lot of learnings to apply, and with one of the largest private fleets delivering to almost every U.S. ZIP code, that’s a lot of driving.

The corporate transformation now in play includes pushing even deeper into data management and data security, evolving digital solutions to drive the omnichannel experience, cementing customer relationships, building growth through strategic retail partnerships and re-envisioning McLane’s food program. “Things are developing quickly in the c-store industry,” Hildenbrand said. “We have set out to become more agile in meeting customer needs as we both go down this changing road together.”

There are a vast number of things happening on the technology side at McLane, including a sophisticated blockchain solution, greater visibility into the supply chain, expanding applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence—and a lot more analytics. “It’s a continuous transformation in these areas and we continue to invest in them,” Hildebrand said. “We will continue to leverage our insights to be a catalyst for our customers’ growth.”

The heart of the investment is understanding customers’ needs and any friction they may have. By operating at the nexus of partnership, trust, transparency, data and analytics, McLane becomes a catalyst for the success—and growth—of its partners.

Supply chain confidence may be the most top-of-mind friction point for many. “The pandemic taught us a lot and we won’t take those learnings and experiences for granted. Then and now, standing shoulder to shoulder with our customers and suppliers, we strive to deliver with operational excellence—ensuring the right product at the right time,” said Vito Maurici, customer experience officer for McLane. Maurici fills a new role, underscoring McLane’s commitment to serving its customers.

McLane continues to work in tandem and develop strategic partnerships with operators. Indeed, in recent years the company strengthened those relationships by adding in greater flexibility to meet customer needs. “Our customers have asked us to do some things differently, and we pivoted, leaned into change and continued to listen as their strategic partner for growth,” said Maurici. “At the core of our transformation is understanding and creating a superior customer experience. I think that we have only scratched the surface in our transformation of meeting customer needs, and I am truly excited for what’s ahead.”

Two critical elements McLane brings to the table for all customers: scale and trust. The company will draw from those strengths as it expands its narrative around foodservice. “We are experts at managing the supply chain to get our customers what they need. As consumer trends and customer needs evolve, as they have for fresh food, we are well positioned and prepared to execute with excellence in all areas of foodservice,” said Maurici.

McLane is prepared to meet convenience retailers wherever they are in their foodservice journey, whether that means a roller grill program or a more expansive offering like pizza. What’s right for one operator doesn’t have to be right for another.

“The program goes much further and deeper than just a menu,” said Farley Kaiser, senior director of culinary innovation at McLane and a classically trained chef. “We take a holistic approach, from vendors to the food supply side; we proactively take care of it all to meet the needs of operators.”

To continue reading about McLane, visit https://www.nacsmagazine.com/Issues/October-2023/As-Convenience-Transforms-So-Does-McLane?_gl=1*1qdp4nl*_gcl_au*NDQ3Mzc2MzI0LjE2OTY5NDAyMzg.&_ga=2.5119994.819674994.1696940238-240831571.1696940238.

Source: NACS Online

2 McLane Innovations Focus on Store Product Assortment

While the launch of new coffee and pizza programs stood out as obvious highlights of McLane Co.’s booth on the 2023 NACS Show floor this past week, more quietly, the distributor also launched two technology platforms that will allow its customers to add new and varied upscale products, as well as recognize high-velocity products that may be missing from a retailer’s set.

Emerging Brands

The distributor has partnered with retail-technology firm Mable on a new Emerging Brands platform that “serves up new brands with unique and innovative products.” Mable was established as an online platform to bring small, up-and-coming and local product brands to retail through drop shipments of smaller quantities.

“The Emerging Brands platform is a technology partnership to bring product discovery of emerging brands in a more innovative way,” Kyle Gustafson, McLane’s vice president of e-commerce, told CSP during the NACS Show in Atlanta. “We’re leveraging digital ordering to introduce new brands to our customers through a platform that allows fast product discovery and selection.”

To start, the partnership opened the door for retailers to peruse the selection of products already on Mable’s e-commerce platform. The selection currently includes more than 3,000 brands, according to Mable CEO Aric Keller. “This really gives a retailer the option to test a new product in one store or 50 stores, whatever works best for them,” he told CSP.

In addition, retailers who learn about a small or local product—one not currently among McLane’s approved stock—that they’d like to bring into a store, they can ask to have it added to the Emerging Brands portfolio, have it drop shipped to the store and test it as long as necessary. From there, McLane has the opportunity to integrate the product into its larger delivery portfolio if it proves successful.

“This really is an opportunity for these small brands to build a customer base when there is no volume established,” Gustafson said.

The Emerging Brands platform is now available to all McLane customers.

Best Sellers

Separately, McLane Co. has also initiated a platform to help retailers discover best-selling brands in their market that are missing from their store shelves.

“This is a new digital tool that helps retailers discover top sellers in their area,” Gustafson said. It allows retailers to learn from what other retailers in their market are selling with less trial and error.

“McLane’s Best Sellers is a data-driven customer experience that presents you with personalized product recommendations to help you easily find and order high-volume, high-velocity items to optimize the product assortment in your stores,” the company said.

“McLane is investing in technology, and both of these new approaches are customer-based,” said Michelle Patterson, vice president of marketing and communications for McLane Co. Both Emerging Brands and Best Sellers developed from interactions in McLane’s Center for Category Innovation, she said. “We’re listening to the voice of our customers to bring them tools to help them do their jobs better.

Based in Temple, Texas, McLane Co. is one of the largest distributors in America, serving convenience stores, mass merchants and chain restaurants.

Source: Convenience Store Petroleum

McLane Unveils New Pizza Brand and Expands Fresh Team

McLane announced the name and branding for its new proprietary pizza program made for convenience stores at the NACS Show: Prendisimo. The reveal comes after McLane announced McLane Fresh, an expansion of its foodservice and retail program, at the McLane Engage trade show in August.

Prendisimo, which translates to “take away” in Italian, is the latest in the McLane Fresh family of brands. McLane brought Prendisimo to life while exhibiting at NACS, offering an immersive culinary experience with a wide array of available samples and marketing materials on display for the brand.

In addition to Prendisimo, McLane also featured CupZa, its newly launched beverage program, which includes bean-to-cup coffee, cold brew, iced tea, and lemonade; and new products from Central Eats, including a Texas toast grilled cheese, maple sausage waffle and cheeseburger.

“Prendisimo is more than just incredible pizza; it’s a highly marketable brand that attracts and appeals to consumers, supported by the end-to-end solutions that McLane Fresh offers,” said Vito Maurici, McLane’s customer experience officer. “McLane is scaling our offerings across the board, creating programs and products that are more accessible and customizable than ever. We are proud to introduce Prendisimo and look forward to partnering with our customers to make a variety of quality fresh foods a reality for convenience stores of all sizes nationwide.”

As the McLane Fresh program continues to grow, Anne Hughes and Jeremy Reinicke have joined the team as category director, fresh food and commissary, and corporate executive chef, respectively. With over 15 years of experience working with notable quick-service restaurants and retailers, Hughes brings fresh ideas and proven marketing expertise to the expanding program, while Reinicke’s extensive professional culinary experience will invigorate menu innovation for the program.

“Anne and Jeremy share in our vision for the future of convenience, and their skills, experience and perspective will help bring that vision to life,” said Farley Kaiser, McLane’s senior director of culinary innovation. “We are excited to have these incredible additions on board the McLane Fresh team as we build on the momentum of our core brands to ideate new products, programs and extensions for our customers.”

McLane Co. Inc. is one of the largest supply chain services leaders in the U.S., providing grocery and foodservice solutions for convenience stores, mass merchants, drugstores and chain restaurants. Through McLane Grocery and McLane Foodservice, McLane operates more than 80 distribution centers and one of the nation’s largest private truck fleets. The company buys, sells and delivers more than 50,000 consumer products to nearly 110,000 locations across the U.S.

Source: Convenience Store Decisions

McLane Brands Proprietary Pizza Program as Foodservice Evolution Continues

By Melissa Kress — A month after debuting its expanded retail foodservice program at its McLane Engage convention, McLane Co. Inc. revealed the name and branding for its new proprietary pizza program made for convenience stores: Prendisimo

Prendisimo, which translates to “take away” in Italian, is the latest in the McLane Fresh family of brands. McLane debuted Prendisimo at the 2023 NACS Show on Oct. 4 in Atlanta with an immersive culinary experience with an of available samples and marketing materials on display for the brand.

In addition to Prendisimo, McLane also featured CupZa!, its newly launched beverage program which includes bean-to-cup coffee, cold brew, iced tea and lemonade; and new products from Central Eats including a Texas toast grilled cheese, maple sausage waffle and cheeseburger.

“Prendisimo is more than just incredible pizza. It’s a highly marketable brand that attracts and appeals to consumers, supported by the end-to-end solutions that McLane Fresh offers,” said Vito Maurici, McLane’s customer experience officer. “McLane is scaling our offerings across the board, creating programs and products that are more accessible and customizable than ever. We are proud to introduce Prendisimo and look forward to partnering with our customers to make a variety of quality fresh foods a reality for convenience stores of all sizes nationwide.”

As the McLane Fresh program continues to grow, the company added to its team member ranks. Anne Hughes and Jeremy Reinicke have joined the team as category director, fresh food and commissary, and corporate executive chef, respectively.

With more than 15 years of experience working with quick-service restaurants and retailers, Hughes brings fresh ideas and proven marketing expertise to the expanding program, while Reinicke’s extensive professional culinary experience will invigorate menu innovation for the program.

“Anne and Jeremy share in our vision for the future of convenience, and their skills, experience and perspective will help bring that vision to life,” said Farley Kaiser, McLane’s senior director of culinary innovation. “We are excited to have these incredible additions on board the McLane Fresh team as we build on the momentum of our core brands to ideate new products, programs and extensions for our customers.”

Temple-based McLane Co. is one of the largest supply chain services companies in the United States. Through McLane Grocery and McLane Foodservice, it operates more than 80 distribution centers and one of the nation’s largest private truck fleets, and provides alcoholic beverage distribution through its subsidiary, Empire Distributors.

McLane is a wholly owned unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Source: Convenience Store News

McLane Debuts Proprietary Pizza Brand

McLane Co. Inc. has unveiled the name and branding for its new proprietary pizza program made for convenience stores: Prendisimo. The reveal—occurring at the 2023 NACS Show in Atlanta today—comes after the distributor’s recent launch of McLane Fresh, an expansion of its foodservice-at-retail program, at the McLane Engage trade show in August.

Prendisimo, which translates to “take away” in Italian, is the latest in the McLane Fresh family of brands.

“Prendisimo is more than just incredible pizza, it’s a highly marketable brand that attracts and appeals to consumers, supported by the end-to-end solutions that McLane Fresh offers,” said Vito Maurici, McLane’s customer experience officer. “McLane is scaling our offerings across the board, creating programs and products that are more accessible and customizable than ever. We are proud to introduce Prendisimo and look forward to partnering with our customers to make a variety of quality fresh foods a reality for convenience stores of all sizes nationwide.”

As the McLane Fresh program continues to grow, Anne Hughes and Jeremy Reinicke have joined the team as category director, fresh food and commissary and corporate executive chef, respectively.

With more than 15 years of experience working with notable quick service restaurants (QSRs) and retailers, Hughes brings fresh ideas and proven marketing expertise to the expanding program, while Reinicke’s extensive professional culinary experience will invigorate menu innovation for the program, the company said.

“Anne and Jeremy share in our vision for the future of convenience, and their skills, experience and perspective will help bring that vision to life,” said Farley Kaiser, McLane’s senior director of culinary innovation. “We are excited to have these incredible additions on board the McLane Fresh team as we build on the momentum of our core brands to ideate new products, programs and extensions for our customers.”

In addition to Prendisimo, the McLane Fresh family of brands includes CupZa!, a recently launched beverage program that includes bean-to-cup coffee, cold brew, iced tea and lemonade; and new products from Central Eats including a Texas toast grilled cheese, maple sausage waffle and cheeseburger.

McLane offers customizable solutions for retail and restaurant customers from ordering and fulfillment to equipment and in-store merchandising, aimed at eliminating barriers of entry for smaller retailers and solving logistical challenges for large chains.

Founded in 1894, McLane is one of the largest distributors in America, serving convenience stores, mass merchants and chain restaurants. With headquarters in Temple, Texas, McLane has more than 80 distribution centers across the country, employs more than 25,000 teammates and delivers to nearly every U.S. zip code. McLane is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Omaha, Nebraska.

Source: Convenience Store Petroleum