Aug. 1 was an important milestone for the MacAuley family of Barre. On that date 50 years ago Roger MacAuley started MacAuley’s Wholesale Meats, a two-person, one-truck operation that delivered meat and fish to area restaurants, health-care facilities, grocery stores and other businesses.
Fifty years later, MacAuley’s Foodservice is a $12 million operation with 30 employees and eight delivery trucks.
“When I started the business, it was just a peddle-truck operation,” MacAuley said. “It was just me and one other employee (Stanley Jacobs of Barre). We worked out of a cellar on Brook Street with just three chest freezers.”
Today, MacAuley’s Foodservice operates from a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and office space in Barre Town. “We’re a full-service wholesale distributor,” said Roger MacAuley’s granddaughter Angela, who has been in the business for 16 years.
According to Angela MacAuley, the company sells a large line of fresh and frozen meats, deli items, fresh produce, condiments, paper products, cleaning items, convenience foods and many other items.
“Basically we sell anything you can find in a kitchen,” she said, including stoves and freezers.
When Roger MacAuley started the business he sold mostly to small “mom-and-pop” grocery stores, local delis and other small businesses. Today customers range from University of Vermont Health Network’s Central Vermont Medical Center, to Quality Market in Barre, to the Wayside Restaurant in Berlin and Wilderness Restaurant in Colebrook, New Hampshire.
The company serves customers from northern Vermont to Springfield and Manchester, and western New Hampshire.
Prior to opening the business, Roger MacAuley worked for nine years for Swift & Company on Taylor Street in Montpelier, a wholesale meat distributor. In 1967, he and Phillip Kerin purchased Central Market in Barre, and two years later he bought Stevie George’s Wholesale Meats, which became Roger MacAuley’s Wholesale Meats.
MacAuley’s Foodservice is a family affair. In addition to Roger, who turns 84 in a few weeks and still works part-time at the business, and Angela, Roger’s four sons, Arnold, Rick (Angela’s father) Mike and Scott work at the plant. Other relatives working for the company include Angela’s husband Derrick Rouleau; Roger’s brother-in-law Dick Robbins, who has been with the company since the first year; Dick’s son Richie, Arnold’s sons Joe and Jason, and cousin Steve Martel.
Later this year, Angela MacAuley will become head of the company and principal owner. “I’ve been working here since I was in high school. It’s what I know.”
The biggest changes since Roger MacAuley started the company in 1969 are the rise of the multi-state food suppliers such as US Foods and Reinhart Foodservice, which have distribution centers in Vermont, and the decline of the small, family-owned grocery stores such as Howard’s in Barre, a local institution for over a century before it was sold to Hannafords in 2002. Hannafords and other large chains have their own supply networks and don’t use companies like MacAuley’s.
One of the main reasons MacAuley’s Foodservice has grown so much and diversified its operation is to compete with the multi-state food supplies, Angela MacAuley said. An advantage her company has over the competition is customer service. A team of seven sales people visits customers weekly to compile orders.
“Customer service is our number-one goal. We have a solid commitment to the welfare of both our customers and our employees. Without our customers, we wouldn’t have a business,” she said.
Fred Demag, a meat cutter at Quality Market, agrees. “We love MacAuleys. They come twice a week and fill our orders. If there is ever a problem, they fix it right away.”
Another big change has been the move toward locally grown food. MacAuleys supplies food from a growing list of local providers, everything from cheese to meats and produce.
“We plan to expand this service,” Angela MacAuley said.
To help keep costs down and to assure access to a wide variety of food and related products, MacAuley’s Foodservice is a member of the Atlanta-based UniPro Foodservice. With more than 850 locations, UniPro Foodservice Inc. is the largest food service distribution cooperative in the United States.
“UniPro gives us buying power,” Angela MacAuley said. In addition, UniPro provides training and other services to its members.
The most import thing the leadership at MacAuley’s Foodservice wants the public to know as the company celebrates 50 years in business, is they plan to be here 50 more years.
“We’re still here and we’re looking to grow,” Angela MacAuley said.