The Martin-Brower Co. L.L.C.

Many who know the industry think of Martin Brower as a supply chain management company, but when speaking with its leadership it is clear its focus is much broader. Its passion and culture is all around making it easier to run great restaurants.

Martin Brower enables a restaurant’s success by managing the end to end supply chain for the brand. Martin Brower has developed innovative systems and processes attracting the best talent to service more than 20,000 restaurants worldwide. Martin Brower’s service portfolio is divided into three components: integrated business planning, logistics services and restaurant services.

Integrated Business planning includes demand planning and event management to create individual resupply plans for each supply chain stakeholder. This includes automated replenishment with the restaurant and does not require the restaurant to place orders.

It also provides suppliers the right forecast for their production planning. The sophisticated processes and technology considers historical demand, weather, events and, of course, promotional activity to ensure the right product is in the right place at the right time.

To do this well you must go back to the beginning; Martin Brower’s success all started with its logistics services. Over the last 60 years, it has set the bar and positioned itself as a lead logistics services provider. “We are very proud of our core competency and know how critical it is to protect our customers’ brands every hour of every day,” says Melissia Jacobsen, vice president of supply chain and technology solutions.

But the key differentiator for Martin Brower, compared to other supply chain companies in the food industry, is the set of services it offers to support restaurant operations.  “In order to be effective at Integrated Business planning, we must have accurate inventory positions in each restaurant,” Jacobsen says.

To facilitate this, Martin Brower takes an active role in managing the inventory in the storage room for each restaurant. This includes removing recyclable waste products, which not only saves the restaurants money, but is also good for our planet. “We call these initiatives ‘double green’ because not only do they help our environment, but they also reduce cost which enables restaurants to keep prices low,” Jacobsen says.

The company has a focus on sustainability and leverages environmental scorecards for each of its distribution centers. “We track our landfill contribution, energy and fuel use, and the amount of materials we recycle and reuse with a goal of zero waste to our landfills,” says Leah Heimdahl, director of customer relations and communication. “All of our distribution centers have an environmental management system and are ISO 14001 certified.”

High Standards

Martin Brower distributes products ranging from paper items to fries, proteins and fresh produce. “Our customers rely on us to protect their brands by ensuring we deliver products of the highest quality with the highest safety standards in the industry,” Jacobsen says.

In order to lead the industry in food safety and traceability, Martin Brower has partnered with Manhattan Associates to tailor its warehouse management system to capture all track and trace information in an automated fashion. It has partnered with its food and paper suppliers to ensure all critical tracking elements are captured and maintained from farm to the restaurant.

“We have a very strategic partnership with Manhattan and as a result believe we exceed the standards for food traceability as expected by the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Jacobsen says.

This helps the company meet the needs of prominent clients. “Our clients have the highest industry standard,” Jacobsen says. “A lot goes in to ensure products are safe and of the highest quality when they reach the restaurant.”

“I started my career at Motorola,” she recalls, noting that she also worked at ACCO Brands before joining Martin Brower.

Jacobsen joined Martin Brower six years ago and is proud of the company’s staff and its culture. “You can have the best processes and the best technology, but if you don’t have good people and a good culture, it’s all for naught,” she says.

“When people ask me what it’s like to work at Martin Bower, I tell them the culture is like a family,” Jacobsen continues. “Coming to work is like coming to hang out with your family.”

The environment also nurtures a strong focus on safety, Jacobsen says. “[We] believe safe operating processes ensure our employees go home every day uninjured,” she says. “Our people are the heart and soul of everything we do and are truly the differentiator in our business.”

Martin Brower also is coping with the challenge of finding new drivers. “In many of the countries where we operate, it is becoming increasingly difficult,” Jacobsen admits. “But we have programs in place to attract the best drivers, as well as some programs to help train drivers.”

Martin Brower will continue to seek creative solutions for staffing its workforce. “We know our highly engaged employees play an important role in Martin Brower’s continued growth. When you look at our history, we’ve more than doubled in the last five years,” Jacobsen states. “We’ve primarily done that through acquisition and we don’t intend to stop.

“We certainly are doing everything we can to position ourselves to grow with our current customers,” she says. “We will also continue to work on expanding our customer base.”

The company also plans to grow its offerings. “[We will be] innovating new services supporting our customers’ supply chain, and making it easier for our customers to run restaurants,” she says.