This week I met with B. Culpeper “Cully” Jennette, Jr. President of Jennette Brothers, a foodservice distributor founded in 1907 and handed down through three generations of family members. The company plays a large role in the history of Elizabeth City, NC where it is located as well as the lives of many others in the area.
Always active in community service Jennette Brothers volunteers with non-profit organizations like Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Hurricane Katrina Relief, March of Dimes, Food Bank of the Albemarle, American Red Cross, Toys for Tots, Walk For Life, and American Cancer Society. Any new account they acquire is asked what charities they prefer and every effort is made to support those as well.
As a rule, Jennette Brothers always pulls for the underdog and specifically markets its products and services to independent restaurants offering quality products at affordable prices. The recession has been especially tough on small businesses in the food service industry however making it hard to compete with large chains and franchises.
According to their mission statement, Jennette Brothers, Inc. is committed to the creation of a strong relationship with independent restaurants by selling them quality products representing the best value, by distributing these products utilizing our Personal Touch Services, and by becoming allied with each in order to assist them to remain competitive in the marketplace.
Jennette explained that if the restaurants lose business so does their distributor. Many of their competitors responded to the decline in orders by dropping prices as well as quality standards but that wouldn’t work for this family firm that built its reputation on their superior products and services.
Always an idea man, Jennette put on his thinking cap to come up with an alternate solution to simply slashing prices and profits. He came up with CommunityRestaurants.com, a program to help local restaurants improve their business at little to no extra cost and then return the favor by continuing to order quality products from Jeannette Brothers.
Community Restaurants meets with locally owned independent restaurants and assists them with menu design, wait staff training, website creation and search engine optimization. They also host events in the area to allow small business owners to network, collaborate, and promote their business.
The unique concept is a way to solve the problem long term instead of offering a quick fix that can’t last like price cutting.