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Russ Davis Wholesale Celebrates ‘Full Circle Partnership’

Russ Davis Wholesale

Russ Davis Wholesale held its annual Customer Appreciation and Vendor Showcase Event on Feb. 28 at Mystic Lake Casino. The Minnesota-based company has been hosting the gathering for more than 35 years.

Russ Davis Wholesale is a wholesaler, manufacturer and distributor of fresh produce. Crazy Fresh is the company’s brand of value-added cut fruit and vegetables, as well as commissary items, and the name commonly used to refer to its retail distribution services.

The Viva Las Vegas-themed event saw a record-breaking 40 percent increase in turnout, with 575 customers and 56 vendors in attendance, making it the largest event in the company’s history.

Patrick Miller, chief marketing officer, said it is part of the “full circle partnership that Russ Davis has with our vendor and customer partners. This show really joins that chain of partnership.”

The event creates a great opportunity for RDW’s vendor partners to showcase their new products and the Crazy Fresh team to introduce their customer partners to the vendors.

“It’s that full circle of the vendor growers’ partnership between Russ Davis, growers and shippers, and our customers. Linking that full circle partnership is so important,” Miller said. 

The networking that occurs throughout the day also is important.

“It gives our vendor growers time to meet new people and to network. And in the produce and grocery industry, that’s so important. I think that’s the key part of us having this appreciation event. It’s just a big thank you to all of our partners, not just our customers but our vendors as well,” he said.

David Leitch, director of prepared foods and marketing for Russ Davis Wholesale/Crazy Fresh, said it was exciting to be able to engage with a large number of the company’s customers. 

“We showed all of the new items that will be put through ideation for this upcoming spring/summer, and it was great to get all of those retailers’ opinions,” he said. “I think one of the things that’s difficult for us sometimes is to let the small independent guy that has one store be heard. And at that event, he has the opportunity to be heard.”

While many of RDW/Crazy Fresh’s larger customers go to bigger shows across the nation, Leitch said many of their smaller customers don’t have that opportunity. The annual customer appreciation and vendor showcase event allows them to meet with vendors and “share their likes, wants, concerns.”

The vendors are able to showcase their new items and have the opportunity “to communicate that message to independent retailers of America,” he said.

Miller said the company also invites a number of potential customers to the event to learn about Russ Davis Wholesale and Crazy Fresh, who their vendor partners are and “to show them how we partner with our customers and how we partner with our vendors … It’s such a crucial point of this business and this industry to have that partnership.”

The event also was an opportunity to recognize winners of the Minnesota Grown contest.

“Actually, they were all Russ Davis Wholesale customers, which was really nice,” Leitch said.

They are: Hugo’s Family Marketplace, East Grand Forks; Chris’ Food Center, Sandstone; Elden’s Fresh Foods, Alexandria; Nilssen’s Foods, Zumbrota; Mackenthun’s Fine Foods, Waconia; Kowalski’s Market, Grand Avenue; and Festival Foods, Hugo.

Winners of the company’s apple display contests were recognized as well. Drawings were held for a variety of prizes during the event.

Devon Daulton, marketing ambassador, and Leitch “basically put on the whole show,” said Miller, with Daulton working “behind the scenes, grinding every day and getting the scheduling and the whole works put together.”

With the recent acquisition of Liberty Fruit Co. in Kansas City, the company has seven distribution centers serving customers in more than 15 states across the central part of the country.

Read more wholesaler news from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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