21 years old, having just left the Army, Michael Newby started out as a route driver for a small uniform company in Bayside NY. Knowing nothing about the industry, his job was to pick up soiled clothing and deliver fresh cleaned uniforms. Now a young 67-year-old, he is President & CEO of Superior Uniform Services and is joined by 3 of his sons in running the operation.

Is your business primarily a laundry service or uniform business?
Many people mistake us for a laundry service. We do actually launder the uniforms but that is incidental. We are a uniform rental service. Automotive, manufacturing, laboratories, etc., come to us to create uniform programs for
them. It is our responsibility to make sure the employees look clean and professional. If you have service technicians meeting with your customers, you want them to look presentable.

How do you deal with a client whose employees destroy their uniforms more often than normal?
We charge a monthly fee per uniform. Our goal is to maintain the uniforms in top condition as long as possible. We do take some risks and, in some cases, such as the one you describe, we will have a lower ROI.

So how did you go from a route driver to being the owner of your own uniform company?
After 4 years as a route driver I was offered a position at another uniform company, where after undergoing psychological testing (things were different in the 70’s!), they gave me my first taste of management. A few years later I joined my current company which was owned by a very hands-off CEO. He sat me down and said “it’s yours son” and walked out. That forced me to learn it on my own – literally opening drawers, reading everything in the file cabinet, which turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me.

And then you married the boss’s daughter?
No 🙂 For 40 years I was content to run his company and move up the ranks. I became President in 2005. I’m a blue-collar guy and am close to all my employees. As my children got older and joined the company they gave me
the push to take the one giant step I never took in my life – buy the company!

Since you were President of the company and knew the finances prior to buying, why was it such a big step for you to take?
There is always the fear of taking on the responsibility. I was an employee. I vacationed whenever I wanted. I traveled the world. I even went to Jerusalem and stood at the Wailing Wall! (This is probably a sin, but I put a note in the
wall for my dog who was undergoing an operation at that time. He came through fine!!) Owning your own business always carries a risk and can be scary.

With the advance of new laundering technology are you afraid companies will do this service in-house?
History has shown that most times when the companies and/or employees are responsible for their own uniforms they are not maintained properly. The larger companies would never do this on their own.

How has technology helped you in your own business?
The industry has definitely been getting more automated. The washing machines are now fully computerized and automated. Detergents are injected automatically during the entire wash cycle. Another place where technology has helped us, is with our payments. Banquest set us up with a beautiful easy-to-use system for automatic monthly billing which ensures our cashflow always remains positive.

That’s it folks for this week.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling (and a very Happy Purim)!

Kevin

 

Banquest Client Spotlight: Superior Uniform Services

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We continue to highlight some of our premiere clients. “Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.” Join us as we get an inside view of our fellow business owners’ struggles, strengths, and experiences!

This week’s interview is with:

Dovi Levi, Financial Manager, Kayco

Background
Starting from humble beginnings delivering tea biscuits and grape juice off a truck, Kayco is a family-owned company that is the merger of Kedem Foods, Kenover Marketing and B&W Foods, made to incorporate hundreds of food products. Kayco is unique in its ability to handle a portfolio that includes over 100 brands (some of them competing products) that create added value for the consumers while maintaining a competitive edge.

 

It seems that Kayco acquired many successful food brands. Do you have any competition out there?
We did acquire many quality food companies, but we still have competition. Competition keeps us on our toes and us makes us work harder to be even better.

 

What makes a food a “classic” that sticks around forever while other foods are fads that come and go?
There is no magic wand that tells us what will be a winner product. We focus on bringing good quality products that the market will appreciate, and the rest is from above. For example, the Gefen Organic Beets (fresh vacuum pack beets) is one of the best-selling products in Costco because of its superior quality. When we first introduced the product – our sales reps were very hesitant because they didn’t know how to eat it themselves!

 

Was there ever a product that you brought to market that was a total failure?
Absolutely! Many times. I’ll give you an example: when the price of Honey was skyrocketing we created a “Honey-Blend” product that is not 100% honey but tastes just the same. Turns out the consumers did not like the idea and preferred 100% Honey rather than a less expensive honey-blend.

 

When we were dealing with one of the largest food retailers in the US they asked us ‘what is our fail rate?’. They wanted to hear a high number! To be innovators in any industry you have to be willing to take risks and the failures that may come with it.

 

As the leader in Kosher Grape Juice for over half a century, what would you say makes Kedem Grape Juice a better choice over competing brands?
60 years of doing it again and again! Practice makes perfect. We are grateful to grace the table of every Jewish home and celebratory event. From the first drops a baby tastes at his Bris to the Kiddush Friday night; we are part of the family.

 

What is the most far flung place that you produce food in?
We produce in Spain, Thailand, El Salvador, and really all over the world. We source food from whichever location produces the top quality.

 

It seems that many large food companies process their credit cards with Banquest. Kedem, Astor, Gefen, Paskesz just to name a few. Is there some kind of food connection?
I guess people with a discerning palate like good service! We found that with Banquest we were truly educated on how the payment industry works. Most companies we’ve worked with in the past tried to make things as confusing as possible so we don’t ask too many questions. The Banquest team took the time to educate and helped us save tens of thousands of dollars. Another value Banquest has is the service continues long after the sale. Whenever there is an issue they respond within the hour!

 

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

–Kevin

Banquest Client Spotlight: Kayco

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Tech keys

In the coming weeks we will continue to highlight some of our premiere clients. “Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.” Join us as we get an inside view of our fellow business owners’ struggles, strengths, and experiences!

This week’s interview is with:

Michael Fried, CEO Tech-Keys

 

 

How did you get started in the IT industry?
Technology was always something I enjoyed. As a kid I was the go-to techy fix-it guy for family and friends. I started out by working 20 hours a day (and pretty much still do 😉 for another IT firm. After a year, my boss who had moved out of the country recognized my hard work and gave me the option to take over the company and so Tech-Keys was born. We focused on providing the highest level of service and by mid-2010 we had become a well know IT provider for small businesses in NY and NJ.

How did that transition into the company you have become today:
While we started out as a break/fix IT company, we wanted to be able to provide more. I will never forget the day that gave us the direction, back in 2010. I was on the phone with a client. I proudly reported to him that his email servers had gone down at 7:30am, and we had it resolved by 7:37am! I was expecting him to be wowed by our service, instead he made a comment that changed the way I approached IT. He said “it is well known that Tech-Keys is the best at putting out fires, the question is, why there was a fire in the first place”. That got me thinking: what could we as an IT company do to PREVENT issues from occurring. We started doing research and discovered the term “MSP – Managed Service Provider” and instead of being a resource for IT needs ad-hoc, we would instead become an outsourced IT department for small to medium businesses.

Is there really any fool proof way of securing a network? Other than going off the grid completely?
Going off the grid – even a notebook (the paper ones!) is not foolproof. If your coffee spills on it, you will lose all your information! Here is my take: if someone is specifically targeting your network in a targeted attack – they will most likely be successful. Even the CIA can’t withstand every attack. What businesses must do is – #1) make sure that they are not an easy target, #2) make sure you are always aware of the health of your systems, and #3) make sure that you can survive an attack. This is exactly what Tech-Keys does day-in day-out.

We know that you give much of your time to train others to enter the field. Do you feel IT is still a great place for people to start?
Now more than ever! Technology is everywhere. Tech-Keys together with Professional Career Services (PCS) created an IT course to help others get started in the field. We found that people were getting certifications, but didn’t have any hands-on knowledge, and much of what they learned, was no longer applicable. When PCS approached us, we discussed that we wanted to ensure that we could hire people from this course and have them hit the ground running. Thankfully with much success, we were actually able to hire four people from last year’s course!

What made you choose Banquest for your merchant services?
I see Banquest as a company where its leader is constantly questioning “how can we make this industry better?”, and as a result, they are creating an impact. They are innovating in ways that others aren’t. In my humble opinion, this kind of success does not come from a goal to make more money, while that may be a result, the primary drive is to make things better. Whether it is due to their team always being responsive, their innovative payment portal or the customized payment pages which has transformed fundraising and parlor meetings. Tech-Keys is a Banquest partner and fan!

 

Please feel free to reply with your feedback regarding our new client spotlight series.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

–Kevin

Banquest Client Spotlight: Tech Keys

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In the coming weeks we will highlight some of our premiere clients. “Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.” Join us as we get an inside view of our fellow business owners’ struggles, strengths, and experiences!

 

Interview with: Meir Eisenstadt, Founding Partner, Auto Filling Services

Auto Filling Services founded in 2013 by Meir Eisenstadt and Aron Knopfler, is a commercial mobile fleet fueling service. They arrive at night when all the vehicles are usually parked in the company lot and go to each truck and fill up the gas tank. When the driver arrives in the morning they are ready to go and don’t have to waste time filling up!

 

What types of clients do you service? Do you fill up private cars?
We service commercial and industrial clients, including fuel tanks and generators for nursing homes, bus companies, and construction equipment in the tri state area, 24 hours a day/6 days a week. Private cars is not something we currently do, although we may offer this service in the future.
How did you get into the fuel business?
It was during hurricane Sandy in 2013 and my father ob”m was not well, and my mother’s car was out of fuel. I had a friend of mine drive from NJ with a trunk full of gas canisters to fill our tank. That gave me the idea of offering this to others as a service!
Do you think with the advance of electric vehicles, fuel companies will be going the way of the tape cassette?
Car fuel will go first. Trucks have a longer way to go because the changeover of fleets is not a simple process. Trucks are expensive to replace. Electric is not that much cheaper for trucks. It costs a lot to purchase, takes many hours to charge and needs a lot more power to run. Electric cars are generally not as expensive and the savings could add up quickly.
Why would a company not want to use such a service?
There is no reason! Our system saves businesses time and money. On average, a driver spends 20 – 30 minutes at a gas station filling up a 100 gallon tank. If you have 10 trucks and pay your drivers $20 an hour and it takes them 30 minutes to fuel, it costs you $10 per truck totaling $100 x 21 working days in a month = $2100 monthly!
Where do you purchase your fuel from?
We purchase our fuel directly from the refineries (as opposed to a middleman; i.e. your local gas station).
Do you stock up on gas when prices are cheap?
Yes. We currently store fuel at one of our locations. As such we are able to offer contract pricing for customers who want to know their cost for the year. They can lock in their pricing for a year without concerns of fluctuating gas prices. We are also constantly expanding our storage capabilities to be able to lock in lower fuel prices.
As someone who has taken an idea and turned it into a successful company, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?
Cashflow is one of the biggest challenges. Every growing company lives or dies by their cashflow. Banquest Payment Systems has proven to be a crucial partnership for our cashflow needs. We hope to continue our relationship for many more successful years!

tuesday blog 2

Please feel free to reply with your feedback regarding our new client spotlight series.

 

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

–Kevin

Banquest Client Spotlight: Auto Filling Services

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