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Affiliated Foods CEO Encourages Independents To Try Something New

Mike McDaniel and Claudia Lopez Ramirez with Randy Arceneaux, Affiliated Foods.
Mike McDaniel and Claudia Lopez Ramirez with Randy Arceneaux (center), Affiliated Foods.

Last updated on August 29th, 2022 at 02:49 pm

Out in West Texas, deflation has hit the oil patch as well as the grocery business. In addition, the independent grocer now is being tasked with adjusting its tactics for a new generation of consumers: Millennials.

Randy Arceneaux, president and CEO of Affiliated Foods in Amarillo, talked about these challenges and the opportunities they represent during his speech at the company’s annual shareholders dinner on March 29 (see photos below).

“My whole message was that we’ve got to get outside of the box,” he told The Shelby Report’s Ron Johnston. “The days of stacking up a canned good and expecting that to drive business and grow your volume are gone.”

Millennials, born between the early 1980s and 2000, represent more than one quarter of the U.S. population and they outnumber baby boomers in the workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Arceneaux said West Texas was slower than other parts of the country to feel the impact of these seismic shifts, but they now are impossible to ignore.

“We’re starting to see that we’re going to have to change our marketing ideas and get much more involved in the social media aspect to tap into a different consumer,” Arceneaux said. “When the oil patch was booming and everything was spewing well, you really didn’t notice that we needed to chase that piece of the business. Things have changed, and now we’re realizing we need to refocus on some of those key consumers.”

The theme of this year’s spring show was “Strength in Focus.”


Let the entrepreneur shine through

Arceneaux told shareholders to expect new programs to launch this year to drive business.

“The other idea that I wanted them all to understand is that in the grocery industry, we’ve had deflation. We’ve been through this before—when times are tough—but the good thing about independent retailers is we all know they are the most resilient group of entrepreneurs in this country,” he said. “My message was simple. Don’t give up. I challenged them to keep the passion flowing that allows you to put the key in the door every morning and figure out what you need to do differently to drive business.”

He told them to think back to when they first became grocery entrepreneurs and the two emotions they likely felt.

“One, excited. Two, the biggest amount of fear that ever entered your heart—the fear of failure,” he said. “Because of that fear of failure, you stepped up and achieved greatness. It’s time that you still have some fear of failure, to not be afraid to try new things, get outside of the box, do things differently.”

He advised them to buy what they know they need to take care of the consumer, but also to look at items they never thought of putting in their stores.

“If you could get every customer walking into your store to spend one more dollar—just one dollar—add up your customer count for the week and then annualize that and tell me if it doesn’t make a difference,” Arceneaux said. “That can of corn is not where you’re going to get the extra dollar from. You’ve got to get it from other areas—whether it’s an impulse type item or whether it’s just a category that’s growing that you have missed.”

Arceneaux said his message seemed to resonate with members of the 71-year-old co-op. Many told him they were exploring new ideas, products and display techniques.

“They are excited about going back home and driving new sales that they hadn’t tapped into before,” he said. “Absolutely, they’re excited about it.”

Featured Photos

Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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