Up Close With: Multi-Flow Industries
Seventy-five years ago, Multi-Flow Industries was a family business that delivered fountain sodas up and down the streets to customers in Philadelphia. Today, the Huntingdon Valley, Pa.-based company direct-delivers up and down the East Coast and co-packs for companies across the country. It has 14 warehouses along the East Coast and works with 90 independent distributors to service the remainder of the United States.
“Our co-packing division now manufactures for over 75 different companies in over 30 states, so we’re pretty much nationwide for co-packing,” explains Brett Rosenbloom, director of business development. Furthermore, the company currently offers more than 300 active formulations for its customers, he adds. Products span categories such as carbonated soft drinks, juice, lemonade, tea, nutrient water, energy drinks and coffee.
“We offer anything imaginable to the customer as long as it’s in fountain form,” Rosenbloom says.
Acquired by CMS Private Equity in 2008, Multi-Flow received the capital not only to expand its business but also to update its facilities as a result of the acquisition.
“With the purchase by the private equity firm, we were able to put a lot of money into our [research and development] (R&D) and quality control labs,” Rosenbloom says. “To me, that is probably the single most important thing — that’s the backbone, because it allows us to do so many improvements on our formulations and our quality control testing.”
In addition to ensuring that product formulations are top notch, the quality control lab enables efficient trackability and traceability. For instance, if a customer has an issue with a product, Multi-Flow can reference the batch number and typically find a solution within an hour, Rosenbloom says.
Additionally, the company has learned how to better accommodate its hotel and foodservice customers by ramping up its manufacturing machinery.
“We’re learning as time goes on [that] certain industries need certain products and certain equipment,” Rosenbloom says. “For example, the hotel and foodservice industry uses a cartridge dispenser because it takes up less space … so we’ve gone out of the way to get new manufacturing machinery so that we can produce them at a better rate and in a more efficient manner. We’re always looking to get new products and new manufacturing things in place so that we can create a better product in a more efficient manner so it’s cheaper for our customers.”
Although the company’s co-packing business is expanding, Multi-Flow also has been building out its branded products. For instance, the company previously referred to its cola product simply as “cola.” Now, the product has been trademarked “Kodiak Cola” and is complete with a logo. Other brands include Micro Brewed soft drinks, Morning Dew soft drinks, Citrus Splash soft drinks, Harvest Squeeze juice drinks, T’ei tea, All Day Café coffee, NourisH2O nutrient water and Re-Fuel energy drinks, which were even popular enough to can.
“We’ve had [Re-Fuel] in bag-in-box for seven years, but a lot of customers in the bar and restaurant business and the convenience store business asked if we can get it for them in cans,” Rosenbloom says. Therefore, at the end of November, the company launched its first energy drink in a can.
“The pre-sales have been unbelievable,” he continues. “We actually had to up the first order, and the reason for it is the main brands are … priced so high that people are looking for a great-tasting energy drink but at an affordable cost, and that’s what we have. We have one that tastes just like the national brands but has a much better price point.”
Despite its new canned entry, Rosenbloom stresses that Multi-Flow’s core competence always will be as a fountain company.
Considering the number of categories in which Multi-Flow participates, there are two that rise above the rest: cola and cranberry juice. Although cola has been a top seller for the company since its inception, cranberry juice might have eclipsed cola as the highest seller because of its versatility across many genres, he notes. Multi-Flow fountain-dispensed beverages are available in bars and restaurants, where cranberry juice has found popularity as a mixer, as well as institutional care facilities, where cranberry juice is recognized for its health benefits for seniors. To accommodate these different consumer groups, the company offers different formulations.
“We have ones that are more for bars that have less juice content all the way up to ones that have much more juice content for nursing homes,” Rosenbloom explains. “That’s one of the things we can do is we can always create the juice content or the sugar content or whatever up to what the customer wants.”
To promote the company’s various services, it relies most on its salespeople who interact with customers every day. It also works with trade organizations to get the word out and uses delivery vans as billboards. Plus, the company launched a new website last month.
“Cost, quality and service are the three most important things to our customers,” Rosenbloom says. After 75 years in business, Multi-Flow continues to uphold its tried and true family values. BI