By JACK WEATHERLY
Bricks and mortar and e-commerce are often seen as competitors.
But Mason Greene sees them as complementary for Hotel and Restaurant Supply.
The company was founded in 1953 by his grandfather, Percy Greene, long before anyone had dreamed of something like the Internet.
Now Mason, 44, is president and his father, Jerry Greene, chief executive, are building for the future by moving from their 33,000-square-foot warehouse and showroom to an 85,000-square-foot facility not far away in the Hawkins Field Industrial Park.
The new location, formerly a Sears warehouse, offers more visibility and maintains its accessibility on the Industrial Drive exit on Interstate 220 in west Jackson, which allows its customers to skirt Jackson traffic.
More than anything, the space is needed, Greene said.
“For years, we have been out of parking space, been out office space, been out of warehouse space, “he said.
And a spacious showroom is another must, in addition to a test and training kitchen and meeting space, he said.
They looked around the metro area for a few years with idea in mind of increasing exposure. But the park, finally, offered that exposure. “We actually get a lot more traffic than you’d think out here.”
The firm is not consolidating under one roof, he said. It has presence in Meridian, where it was founded 66 years ago, along with Gulfport, Memphis, Nashville and Tuscaloosa, plus a stainless-steel fabrication facility in Savannah, Tenn.
All told, there are 212 employees.
When he was in graduate school at Mississippi State University the students were discussing concepts such as mission and vision in one class. He asked his father what their business was all about in that regard, and his father responded that providing meaningful employment was the key.
With the millennial generation making his mark in the work place, the new facility in Jackson will offer benefits such as a fitness room and options for desks that allow a worker to sit or stand at his or her desk.
Diversity in the client base is a key – restaurants, hotels, health-care facilities, prisons – anything that offers food service.
“Obviously, we face more online competition, with Amazon and other online players.” So e-commerce will be expanded to respond to that challenge, he said.
“We’re large enough to compete with anybody on price, but we bring in a lot of additional service, such as helping a new restaurant set up. “We’re not architects or designers, but we help with the flow of the kitchen – from concept to completion.”
Greene not only runs his company, but is also the chairman of the national Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association.
He is father of a month-old son and two daughters, ages 6 and 2, so with family, company and association duties, Greene stays pretty busy.
There has been a lot of consolidation in the industry, he said. He said there has been a lot of interest in his business in that regard, but “we really haven’t even explored that.”
Besides, it’s not that he doesn’t have enough on his plate just now.
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