When Ben E. Keith began his career as the first salesman and junior partner of Harkrider-Morrison Company, a produce company in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1906, he wrote orders on paper and made deliveries by horse and buggy. He was a man with an astute business mind and an eye for opportunity, and he eventually took ownership of the company.
In 1928, he began selling ice cream syrups during the slow summer months through a partnership with Adolphus Busch, whose brewery was making ice cream syrups during Prohibition. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Ben E. Keith Company became a wholesaler of Anheuser Busch beers. This spirit of ingenuity and enterprise has continued throughout Ben E. Keith Company’s 110 years of operation.
Today, Ben E. Keith Company has two divisions: a foodservice division that serves 14 states, and a beverage division that serves 61 Texas counties with Anheuser Busch products and has statewide distribution for most craft and import beer brands. It is the eighth largest broad line food distributor in the U.S. and offers its customers more than 35,000 products.
Fresh from Keith’s
When Ben E. Keith needed a way to connect with households and promote its fresh produce in grocery stores in 1941, Keith’s assistant came up with the slogan “Fresh from Keith’s.” The slogan is still used today, and its influence is evident in the company’s commitment to delivering products of the highest quality and value, while providing excellent service and responsiveness to its customers’ needs.
To deliver on the Fresh from Keith’s promise, Ben E. Keith strategically partners with companies such as Great Dane that share its values of safety, quality and customer service.
“Partnering with the right trailer manufacturer whose trailers keep our products at the right temperature so we can keep our promise of delivering products of the highest quality is important,” said John Fershtand, operations and energy management at Ben E. Keith. “We buy Great Dane trailers because of the quality and service.”
Customized Trailers Meet Specific Needs
The fleet is comprised of Everest CL reefers in 28-foot, 36-foot, 48-foot, and 53-foot lengths. These trailers are customized to the company’s specific operational needs. They include three multi-temp compartments to help keep products at the right temperature while in transit, two side doors for curbside deliveries, and typically a Bustin portable platform/ladder and a rear walk ramp to make deliveries safer and easier for drivers. The interiors have several dome lights plus exterior spotlights over the doors and the rear to increase visibility and safety.
“Great Dane provides customer service from beginning to end. Our account representative coordinates all trailer specs and ordering, delivery dates, refrigerated unit installations, and keeps us informed about new options that can help our operation,” said Fershtand.
Delivering quality products on time, at the right temperature is the name of the game, and selecting partners to help achieve this goal is key.
“Great Dane’s manufacturing capabilities and dealer support is invaluable to Ben E. Keith,” said Fershtand. “We drive almost 3 million miles a month delivering to our customers. Our equipment has to be reliable.”