To Greg White, a broker has two core responsibilities. He views himself not only as a manufacturer representative to the vending industry, but a proxy for vending distributor and operator concerns in the way manufacturers bring product to market. His goal is to bring both sides together into a strong team tailored to the vending industry, and his knowledge and experience have made it happen.
White, the 2012 Readers’ Choice Broker of the Year, has grown the Midwest territory for Burdette Beckmann, Inc. (BBI) for the last three years using his varied experience.
From college to vending
White got his start in the vending industry in college. While attending Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., White interned at Glenmark Industries. At the time, Glenmark was launching a new vending sandwich line and White got to see firsthand how the product went to market. From that point, he was hooked. When he graduated, he became a regional sales manager in Glenmark’s vending division.
When an opportunity became available to join Saverino & Associates, Inc., Carol Stream, Ill., which was the Glenmark broker in the Midwest, White jumped at it. “I wanted to learn all of the ins and outs of the industry,” said White, “and who better to learn from than the Saverino family, a family and business I will always have a very high respect for.”
Six years later, White made the move back to the manufacturer side of the business with Merisant, the maker of Equal sweetener.
“It was an opportunity to run a division and start from the ground up,” he said.
White ran the OCS division at Merisant. He and his team developed new goals, strategies and tactics that resulted in growth from a mature brand that had recent declines. He also began to understand and develop relationships in the vending and OCS industry from a national perspective.
White knew Robert Taylor, owner of BBI, since his first job at Glenmark and was always impressed with him and the organization, so when the brokerage gained the majority share of territory coverage for Merisant and planned to expand regions to a national platform, White was intrigued.
“Not only were they (BBI) pioneers in the expansion of territory to a national presence in the vending/OCS industry,” said White, “ but they were doing it at a pace to ensure they had some of the best and most experienced talent in the industry.”
In 2009, with the support and investment of BBI, Greg White launched the Midwest territory.
While a broker’s role changes based on the manufacturer, White believes the most important aspect is using his unique capabilities every day. When he worked for Merisant, one of his main concerns was making sure the great ideas and strategies his team developed would work in the field.
“We represent our manufacturers out in the field to execute with distributors and operators, but we also represent our distributors’ and operators’ needs to our manufacturers,” said White. He asks to be involved in manufacturers’ decision making and product planning, so he, and the BBI team, can offer valuable industry insights and help ensure success. White reports more and more manufacturers are open to his input. “We touch so many manufacturers, operators and distributors,” said White. “As brokers, we have that ability and we can do it.”
BBI has grown to have a national presence in the vending/OCS industry over the years, and White thinks that’s definitely a good thing. Now there’s one point of contact for manufacturers for the whole country, White explains. It also allows BBI to draw on the experience and knowledge of its employees across the nation. “Our biggest asset is our people,” added White.
According to White, having that national presence and continually investing in the industry allows for progress and efficiencies, such as using technology to enhance customer reach. A year ago, BBI added Salesforce, a customer relationship management program, to better service its customers and manufacturers.
The industry isn’t the same one White came into as a recent college grad, but he’s glad of that. “As long as we continue to pursue new ideas and ways of doing business we can force change rather than change being forced on us,” he said.