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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Change The Marketing Strategy

You know the famous axiom: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Well we suggest:  If it ain't working very well, change it.  Learn that what worked in the past may not work in the future. 

Key Question:


Get out of the market that is price-driven and look for the market that is service-driven.  

Q:  What did the Calise brothers change?

A:  They shifted from selling retail to selling wholesale.  They achieved this by going after the private label baking needed by a local grocery store chain.  Once they landed that first account, they were off and running.

Think about it

Where do your customers come from now?  Where could they come from? What changes do you have to make to reach new customers?  Is the Internet part of your future growth?

Clip from: Calise & Sons Bakery, Providence

Providence, Rhode Island:  Visit an old New England family business. With roots back to 1908,  the Calise & Sons Bakery has been through the good times and the bad.  The founder gave the reins to his four sons and they just about ran that business into the ground. Three grandchildren came to the rescue. They bought the business, and then went to work to retire the debt. They did it, then they built the business beyond anyone's wildest expectation.

Calise & Sons Bakery now serve most of New England, New York and Pennsylvania and increasingly they'll be serving the world. Big chains and grocery stores -- The Olive Garden, Shaws and Albertsons -- depend on them. But, you know, even with such success, it is just not easy. 

The Calise brothers make bread from the same recipes their grandfather brought from Italy.  Yet, it took them nearly 30 years to bring this company back from the brink. The brothers learned on the job. Though there are no MBAs here, their management practices are now case studies in major business textbooks.

The adoption of technology and the acquisition of competitors have fueled growth and prosperity. These owners quickly learned a key big business secret -- grow by acquiring your competition.

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Calise & Sons Bakery

Michael Calise, VP, Sales

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Business Classification:
Food - Bakery - Bread

Year Founded:

Change The Marketing Strategy

BOB: And then we changed the concept of the business. They were primarily a retailer and we decided to make it a wholesale company.

HATTIE: How did you get that first wholesale account?

BOB: Just by knocking on doors and showing them our product and being competitively priced.

MIKE: Our first big break was with a Star Market in 1973, I think. And they were looking for somebody to do a private label program. They came down, they visited our plant and we made samples for them. And we passed all the tests that were necessary and we started with them. That was our first major private label account.

BOB: About six months after we moved into this building, a competitor of ours got into some trouble and we did their work for them. Then we eventually took over their label. We bought their label and their customer list.

HATTIE: So do you think that's a good piece of advice for people trying to grow their business that they might find...

MIKE: Acquire.

HATTIE: Acquire.

MIKE: We acquired.

HATTIE: So how do we build these good relationships, get the money and handle the collections positively?

JOE: Well, it's very simple. In our business, we have weekly terms. Statements go out Monday morning. If they don't get paid by Friday, they're on my hit list.

HATTIE: What do you do when they get on your hit list?

JOE: Well, the accounts I've known for years, we don't worry about them, but some accounts, like new accounts, I watch them especially close.

HATTIE: Do you call them on the phone?

JOE: Oh, if I have to. But I'll watch them and I tell my salesmen, `This is a new account. You better get paid every week until we see what he's all about,' because it's only bread and we work on pennies.

BOB Don't low-ball the marketplace.

HATTIE: Don't be the cheap guy.

BOB: Yes. In the long run, it's going to hurt you.

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