COMMERCE, Calif. — For over 30 years, University Foods has been distributing food products to schools, hotels, restaurants, even prisons here in Southern California. But once these institutions closed their doors due to coronavirus, orders dwindled forcing the business to change their target consumer.
Now, households around SoCal can order wholesale items from the safety of their own homes. Anyone need fifteen pounds of bacon? Dean Schauer has boxes and boxes of this in his warehouse.
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“We are never going to get a home to use that,” said Schauer.
To get a home to use it, for the past month, Schauer figured out a way to re-package his products into smaller amounts.
“It’s pennies on the dollar to re-package it really is,” said Schauer.
Schauer is the founder of University Foods, a distributor that provides products to SoCal restaurants, hotels, and schools with clients like Trejos Tacos, Riviera Country Club, Cal State Northridge, and more. But during coronavirus restrictions, his clientele has changed.
“No one calls us and stops ordering. Everyone just knew. Everything went from large quantities to having 70 percent of your customers close. We have a lot of product on hand where nowhere to go,” said Schauer.
Now with a warehouse full of meat, fruit, vegetables, dry products and more he needed somewhere for it to go, so he quickly changed his business model.
“It started with a lot of my friends saying, ‘hey can I buy something from you?’” said Schauer.
He took his institutional sized produce, like a massive slab of steak, and sent it out to be cut into sizes that could be sold to homes. Now, anyone can order these premium products from the warehouse and get it delivered right to their doors. He said this used to be a thankless job, but the outpouring of gratitude was overwhelming.
“They were thankful to find us to fulfill their needs without the risk of going out. More people were appreciative in my career in the last month than ever,” said Schauer.
He is honored to help the community with his surplus, but this is also a way to secure hours for his employees.
“It’s not really about profits right now, it’s about trying to survive and get products to the people that need it and keep everyone working,” said Schauer.
Keeping his employees working and the community fed with this new way of doing business.