And two local businessmen say they’re finding surprising success in it since they bought Allied Food Service off U.S. 27 North a few months ago.
“It’s been a good partnership. I know the food business, and he’s very good on the management end,” said co-owner Donny Chupp, referring to his partner Bill Turner.
The men bought the business late last September and since then have increased the company’s annual sales average from $2.1 million to $3 million, more than a 40 percent increase.
“We’ve been blessed. … I never expected this,” Turner said.
The company stays busy with its big local customers — Western Sizzlin, Schroeder’s, Shell’s Tales, Coosa Country Club, Rome City Schools and Landmark Restaurant among the biggest — but also sells to individuals who want to buy in bulk.
“We have a good walk-in clientele,” Chupp said.
Allied has been in business in Rome since 1961, when Joe Myrick opened it in Celanese. He moved it to its current location in 1967 and sold it in 1988 to Jim Woodard, who sold it to Chupp and Turner last fall.
“We’ve always wanted to own our own business,” Turner said. “That’s always been a goal of ours.”
The men are hoping the recent sales increases will be an indication of things to come.
“What we’d like to do is grow the business a little bit and in a couple of years build a new place,” Chupp said.
They’re now working with nine employees, three delivery trucks and about 1,500 square feet of freezer space.
Since taking over the business, the men have added a second walk-in cooler — where they’re keeping cheese, salad dressing and the like — and installed computers to track their inventory and orders.
Allied carries about 2,000 different food items, including top-sellers chicken tenders, ground beef, sugar and liquid frying oil.
“Those are the staples,” Chupp said.
He has spent much of his life in food service, he says, working in sales and management for Sysco and Kraft.
Turner got his business management experience in the carpet industry, quite a different world from food distribution.
“I learn something new every day. … Carpet doesn’t spoil,” he said with a laugh.
The idea for a business partnership came easily to the men, since they have been fellow worshippers for several years at Shorter Avenue Baptist Church.
“We were friends, and he wanted to get into business and knew that I knew this business,” Chupp said. “I wish I’d done it 10 years ago now.