Editor’s Note: This summer saw private, diversified foods processor Rich Products Corporation, Buffalo, N.Y., name Richard Ferranti as the fourth president in the company’s 73-year history. 

Rich’s has annual sales exceeding $3.8 billion and operates in more 100 locations globally. Its refrigerated and frozen products range from cakes and icings to pizza, appetizers and specialty toppings and it distributes to operator customers in foodservice, retail, and in-store bakery, deli and prepared foods.

Ferranti has served in a series of progressive leadership roles since joining Rich’s in 1986. Officials say his appointment lets Gisel focus on Rich’s long-term direction and organizational excellence priorities.

Following is a Prepared Foods interview with both executives.

Prepared Foods: Bill and Richard, what would you say have been some of the most important milestones for Rich Products during the past several years?

Bill Gisel: During that time I’d say two key areas that have fueled our growth are acquisitions and results. We’ve completed four successful acquisitions that have added to our portfolio and range of capabilities throughout the company. 

Those acquisitions included Jacqueline’s Gourmet Cookies (2017), Venice Bakery (2017), f’real foods LLC (2012) and Goglanian Bakeries (2012).

At the same time, our business results have enabled us to continue proactively investing in our business. This has fueled our expansion in the international markets we operate in.

Richard Ferranti: To build on Bill’s last point, the expansion of our business outside the US-Canada region has been a driving force behind our growth. We now do business in more than 100 countries around the globe. 

Beyond that, we’ve had a laser-like focus on investment across different areas of our business, including: new platforms, new technologies and new business models. We also are relentlessly committed to organizational development and pour incredible amounts of effort and energy into our associates. We want to help our people become the best they can be, as leaders and in their respective fields. 

Most importantly, we’ve remained extremely dedicated to our customers. Listening to their challenges and what they need; coming up with solutions for them and with them, and then, flawlessly executing each and every time.   

PF: Looking ahead, in what ways can Rich’s still grow and evolve?

Bill Gisel: We simply cannot be complacent with our recent performance and success during the last decade. It’s not enough to rely on how we got here or on our reputation. We need to build on our strong foundation and continue to focus on advancing our organization toward a more digital, fluid and flexible environment. 

Richard Ferranti:  Our ability to grow revolves around four areas: innovation, speed, technology and having the right people. 

Innovation: We need to drive innovation through every part of our organization. We always need to be moving forward with new product development and seizing new market capabilities.

Speed: We must be agile and responsive to evolving customer needs, segments and channels. We know our customers are driven by their consumers, who have increasingly different expectations about what the food industry and the food buying experience should be. 

Technology: Technology is fundamentally changing consumers’ expectations, which means there’s changing demand everywhere you turn. Technology can help bridge that gap and enable us to do more—better and faster. 

The Right People. Our people are critical to our success. We’re focusing on making sure we have the right people so we can build the right capabilities to meet growing customer and consumer needs and demands. 

PF: Speaking about innovation, Prepared Foods last visited Rich’s in 2015 to see the company’s newly opened Innovation Center. How have those new facilities and labs benefitted your new product development efforts and customer relations?

Bill Gisel: Rich’s Innovation Center is well designed to facilitate interaction with strategic customers on-site. It has attracted and driven our customers’ development teams to dedicate significant time and resources here at Rich’s, working shoulder to shoulder with our associates to create, test and innovate. That creative, collaborative environment is an absolute point of differentiation we’re able to offer to our customers. 

Richard Ferranti: Our Innovation Center has welcomed customers of all shapes and sizes, from some of the largest retailers in the world to the largest QSRs in the United States and Canada, and also iconic/renowned bakery café and coffee chains. 

It’s like Bill said, our ability to collaborate with our customers in our Innovation Center is key for us. It creates a starting ground to develop new products with our customers, which are ultimately launched into the marketplace.