A hundred years in business is a rare enough occurrence, but in an economy where companies merge, downsize or disappear altogether, Rudolph Sales has stood the test of time. What is the company’s secret?
Current president and owner, Ron Létourneau shares his insight: “Take care of the clients, and the clients will take care of you.” This personalization of service started in the previous century, but the current president feels that customer care is still a driving force in customer retention, today.
The three-generation business legacy began in Montréal, where the company originally started supplying only the island of Montréal: Rudolph Sales now boasts a service range that extends beyond Québec and Southern Ontario. Moses Rudolph was a businessman, heavily invested in several Montreal bakeries in 1918. He made a decision to facilitate the distribution and sale of the staples to those bakeries, and service an industry that had no distribution infrastructure in 1918.
On horse drawn carriages, Moses created the blueprint for baking ingredients deliveries in Eastern Canada. Flour, sugar, salt, fats and oils were the building blocks for an inventory list that today exceeds 4,000 different products. However, their model for same-day response and repair remains the same as it did at the turn of the twentieth century.
- Fleet of Rudolph Sales trucks Fleet of Rudolph Sales trucks
- The business began deliveries by horse-drawn carriage The business began deliveries by horse-drawn carriage
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Many business elements have changed between 1918 and 2018. Consumer research has pointed clients in widely veering directions over the century. Rudolph Sales has had to adapt its ingredient offering as well as the way it has brought products to market. Létourneau stated in an interview, “the challenges that came within the last twenty-five years, new strong competitors, and international players were starting to take a foothold in Montréal, changed the way Rudolph Sales perceived their future.”
“Making sure the client has what they need – consistently – means that our sales representatives have to be quick to see trends, and differentiate trends from fads. Clients are much more creative than we are.” Létourneau adds that quality of service doesn’t just deliver inventory on demand. Agility also means moving at the same pace as your clientele. “Good clients make you better.”
Robin Hood Flour went by several different names over the last 109 years and is currently known under the name Ardent Mills. It was Rudolph Sales’ ability to grow, and not resist change, that has kept one of its longest partnerships intact. “I am witness to 33 years of an amazing journey, and the last 18 years under the current management have been marked by dynamism, an increase in product lines and great customer service,” said Benoit Dussault, senior executive of national accounts at Ardent Mills.
‘’We want to keep the flavour of this deep-rooted service oriented company and retrofit it to the demands of a new generation of consumers and bakers’’ adds Létourneau.
Lantic sugar has been a Montreal staple since 1888 and supplied Rudolph its sugar and sweeteners for the entirety of its existence. “It has been a pleasure working together to achieve many business successes, but even more to thoroughly appreciate the journey together,” said Normand Dumas, director of sales for Lantic Sugar.
“The name Rudolph has been a large part of the baking and food industry in Quebec for 100 years,” said Dave Newhook, Director of Sales at ADM Milling. “I am proud to have been a part of the past 27 years. It has been an honour partnering with a company that is respectable and customer focused.”
Building loyalty and trust between a customer and a business is important. At the end of the day, they make or break you. You need to keep your customer base up to speed with what’s happening by offering them new and relevant options that reflect the trends developing around the world.
Take Rudolph’s word for it: These are the tips that make a company last 100 years.