Petrogram - Spring 2015 - (Page 18)
Enjoying the Taste of Success
hen Marci Fechter joined f'real foods
in 2010, the sales manager for its
Southeast Region was new to the
retail sector of the food service industry. Fast
forward five years and Fetcher is at the top of
her game at f'real foods, which designs, sells
and markets authentic milkshakes, smoothies and frozen beverages. The fast-growing
company has introduced her to the world of
C-stores and FPMA. Here, she shares why
she's excited to be a part of both.
Q. What changes in the industry have
affected your business the most?
Over the past few years, consumers have
increasingly looked upon Convenience Stores
as a viable alternative to QSRs. As a result,
C-Stores continue to put focus on their foodservice offerings. This trend has provided
f'real a large growth opportunity as we help
Convenience Stores compete against QSRs
with their own milkshake program.
Q. What type of growth have you
experienced, and what steps have you
been taking to enable this growth?
In 2014, we grew to more than 14,000 locations
nationwide. Our double digit distribution growth
was due in large part to our ability to offer tailored
equipment offerings that provide solutions for all
sizes and shapes of convenience stores. Further,
we had great cup growth, as well, with higher
than anticipated trial and repeat of our seasonal
milkshake flavor offerings.
Q. Was there a tipping point for your
business, as far as its growth?
f'real has continued to see steady growth over
the years and we expect that to continue as
retailers look to strengthen their QSR competitive offerings and foodservice programs.
Q. How has your company embraced
We don't just embrace new technologies, we create them. Over the years, we've made great innovations to the f'real blender. For the retailer, our
current version provides internal self-sanitizing
solutions that cut down on labor as well as full
connectivity that helps us notify a store if there
are issues. Further, for the consumer, we provide
a touchscreen that helps to increase visibility and
interaction with the consumer.
Q. How important has social media been
to the company's growth and success?
Social media offers f'real the opportunity to
communicate with our consumers in real time.
We can answer their questions, engage in
conversation and have fun with them in unique
ways. Most often we connect with them on
flavors. Our social community loves to tell us
what flavors we think we should offer and
we do take their input into consideration as
we think about what our next flavors will be.
Q. What brought you to the company?
What was your role when you first
started and how did you get to your
I have an extensive foodservice background
working on both the distributor side and the
manufacturer side and wanted to expand my
experience to the retail sector which was missing from my resume. When I first came to f'real
we were a small company and I covered the
entire Southeast calling on convenience stores,
colleges and universities as well as supermarkets and hospitals. My territory has remained
the same as has the accounts I call on, but we
are no longer a very small company.
Q. What is one of your more memorable
experiences at f'real foods?
The first trade show I attended for f'real. I had
been to more shows than I care to admit, but
the response from attendees and other vendors was amazing. People LOVE our product
and I was unprepared for the crowds at my
booth. The comments from existing customers about the quality of our customer support
team and how great our product was something I wasn't used to hearing at trade shows.
I have to say, five years later the response is
pretty much the same - if not grander.
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Q. What part of your job do you enjoy
Interaction with customers, both mine and
the customers of our retailers. I love watching
someone take a sample and turn around with
the wow expression on their face. To this day
everyone is amazed at how good our product
tastes and I give away more samples to other
exhibitors than to attendees at some shows.
Q. Why are you a member of FPMA and
what has FPMA done for you?
Florida has the 3rd most convenience stores
in the country and more than half of those
are independently owned. I initially needed a
vessel to introduce my product to all of those
independents and small chains but discovered
an association that helps their members and
keeps you informed of what's happening on
every level in the business of the petroleum
industry, including the retail sector. Being a
member has helped introduce me to new
people and new opportunities.
Q. What do you see in this industry's
future? FPMA's future?
The industry is poised to take a tremendous
jump in the retail sector, with all of the big
acquisitions that transpired in 2014 and the
implementation going to take place in 2015,
the big push is definitely going to be foodservice at the store level and providing better
for you options for their customers. With the
migration south of large chains such as Wawa,
Thornton's and Cumberland and the growth
of existing chains like RaceTrac and Circle K,
the small and medium chains as well as the
independents are looking at new offerings
to keep up and this is with technology and
non-food items as well as food items. FPMA
is going to be a big part of helping guide these
folks in the right direction and communication
along with networking is going to be key.
McDonald's has already admitted that convenience stores are impacting their business
so the needle is definitely moving.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Petrogram - Spring 2015
Chair’s Perspective By Noel D. Hardy, FPMA Chair
Alternative Fuels: A Glimpse Into the Future By John Eichberger
Endless Possibilities for C-Store Food Programs By Al Hebert
UST Owners & Operators: Don’t Miss the Train! By Amy Bell
5 Ways to Stop Wasting Cash in Inventory By Betsi Bixby
Member Spotlight Marci Fechter, Sales Manager Southeast Region, f’real foods
Making Hiring Decisions Using Social Media By Lourdes Espino Wydler, Esq.
Calendar of Events
FPMA Featured Advertiser Marketplace
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Petrogram - Spring 2015