Find the people, resources, news & events that interest you.
The website alone is a feast of succulent images and the implied promise of equally luscious flavors: a chorus line of diaphanous citrus slices tumbles across a backlit scrim; cucumber coins sport fluffy dollops of creamy garnish; an elegant cheese-and-fruit platter sits poised next to wine glasses.
As the images appear and fade and reappear, small banners move in to proclaim simple messages.
“Your customers eat with their eyes,” reads one. “Stanz can help you make sure every bite is a work of art.”
Locally owned, family-operated
|Stanz Foodservice, Inc. in South Bend.|
The company behind the tempting photo displays, Stanz Foodservice Inc., has been in business in South Bend since its inception in 1923. That was the year Emil and Henry Stanz, foreseeing the potential in America’s burgeoning highway system, established a unique inventory holding and selling system that lent itself well to truck delivery. It differentiated the fledgling company from others that relied solely on train distribution.
Since that time, the company has experienced dramatic growth, expanding from its first deliveries of cheese to local groceries to focus on institutional foods. Today, under the leadership of second- and third-generation Stanz family members, the company competes successfully with larger regional and national distributors to deliver a complete line of food-service products to a broad spectrum of the industry, ranging from the family-owned, independent restaurants, to multiunit concepts and institutional food-service operations. Stanz serves food-service customers all over central and northern Indiana, southwestern Michigan, and parts of Ohio and Illinois.
“Family-owned distributors like Stanz are rare,” says Mark Harman, the company’s president and Emil’s grandson. “We are blessed with customers that see the value in dealing with local partners. We work together to find mutual benefit in our transactions and do whatever it takes to help our customers in any situation that arises.”
Passion for the community
Today Stanz occupies a 152,000-square-foot facility next to South Bend Airport, the result of a massive expansion project that dramatically increased the company’s capacity.
“We first began considering an expansion in 2000, then put it on the shelf when 9/11 occurred,” Harman says. “When we revisited the idea in 2006, the cost for new construction had escalated. We were fortunate to strike a deal with the vacant building next door to us that had changed hands a few times. The acquisition of that property provided us with a 13-acre site on which to expand.”
The expansion included 42,000 square feet and a state-of-the art, 1.3-million-cubic-foot bay freezer and cooled dock. The freezer has motion sensor lights that turn off without activity, and the cooled dock is unique in that it allows for trucks to dock without first opening their doors, which protects the cold chain at the time of loading or receiving.
“Our decision to remain in South Bend is one of passion and love for our community,” Harman says. “There were several options for us to consider. But we believe in South Bend and want to stay to help make our environment a good place to locate or expand a business.
“We can’t give up if we care and believe in our community’s future.”
As a result of its commitment to stay in the community, Stanz’s presence drove more than $6 million in additional investment and saved more than 170 jobs. The City of South Bend provided assistance in the rehabilitation and the purchase of new equipment with a phase-in of new property taxes.
“Perhaps best of all for our community,” Harman says, “we took an abandoned, non-producing property and beautified it to an extent that was not possible without that project.”
Helping out during tough times
In addition, the 7,500-square-foot Stanz Self Service outlet store is open to the public at the Stanz warehouse. Anyone can buy any of the products that are sold to Stanz’s regular customers for cookouts or large events. Even cleaning supplies and paper goods are available at deeply discounted prices.
“Times have been tough for our industry during the recent economic period,” Harman says. “Escalating product costs are pressuring the margins for our customers. We work tirelessly to find alternatives and negotiate manufacturer discounts for large-volume items to try to offset those increases where possible.
“We are passionate about what we do,” he says. “Our people, and the passion they have for taking care of the customer, are what make us successful.”