Topicz prides itself on providing strong service.
By Alan Dorich
Teamwork is essential for Topicz, Director of Business Development and Operations Adam Greenberg says. “It is key to delivering the best product to our customers,” he states. “Everyone has the key to our success.”
Based in Cincinnati, the company distributes full-line convenience store goods. Greenberg notes that the Topicz family started the company in 1926, but his grandfather, Marvin Schwartz, purchased it in 1983.
At that time, Topicz had a 7,000-square-foot building. Since then, Greenberg says, the company has grown to be the largest company in its market, with a 120,000-square-foot location that features 8,000 square feet of refrigerated and frozen storage space.
“We service our customers in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Tennessee and the Southern tip of Illinois,” Greenberg says, adding that Topicz recently placed on Convenience Store News magazine’s list of the top 25 convenience store distributors in the country. “They ranked us as the 21st largest.”
Greenberg began working at Topicz nearly five years ago in its sales department, where he ran routes with its drivers and rode along with sales representatives. “That gave me the opportunity to see our representation out in the field with our customers,” he recalls.
“We pride ourselves on service and the relationships we’ve developed over the years,” Greenberg says, noting that the company focuses on staying close to its vendors and customers.
Topicz’s purchasing department meets with its suppliers on a monthly basis. “We also have them come to our trade show, allowing our customers to meet specifically with the manufacturers to talk about any concerns and new products,” he describes.
The company’s sales force meets with its customers bimonthly to talk about promotions. “[They’re also] discussing industry trends with the convenience store operators and giving them a chance to ask what’s working with them and not working with them,” he says.
This helps Topicz maintain synergy with store operators, Greenberg says. “They really need to be up-to-date with the new information,” he says.
Up to Date
Topicz regularly invests in new technology. “Automation is very important to us and we’ve focused on that for the last two years,” Greenberg says, noting that the company automated its warehouse with picking systems that are controlled via computer.
The system directs an employee through a wireless headset. “[Their] voice directs them to a specific location and tells them the quantity,” he explains. “The individual will verify that they’ve received the right quantity.”
Thanks to this system, Topicz has boosted efficiency. “It has also reduced overtime of our staffing, thus providing us with savings of 6 percent this year,” he adds.
The system also allows Topicz to perform daily cycle counts on its inventory. “Every single pallet in our warehouse has a slot location and pallet tag,” Greenberg says, noting that he can easily look these up in the company’s computer and know the items’ locations.
Topicz also has introduced an ordering system app called ZiiZii that clients can use on their iPhones and iPads. “It gives the customer the ability process his/her order,” he describes. “You can go around your store, scan everything you need and it goes right to us.”
The company also made investments on the drivers’ side as well, with electronic manifest systems and tracking systems for route management. “[We can see] in real time where our fleet of trucks is at any given second,” Greenberg says.
Topicz is seeing low fuel costs in its industry, but OPEC production cuts ensure those conditions will not last, Greenberg says. “That increase in cost is going to come from our bottom line,” he says.
The industry is experiencing a decline in cigarette sales. To cope, “We’re putting ourselves in new ventures where our competition is not currently present,” he says. “We have relationships with Jewish Hospital and Christ Hospital in Cincinnati where we service their store locations.”
Topicz also is working with the United Services Organizations, Freestore Foodbank, the University of Cincinnati and Maple Knoll Village, an assisted living facility. “They have a store café for their residences that we work with,” Greenberg says. “Those are all terrific relationships.”
The company also has benefited from convenience stores that are serving customers with higher-profit items, such as deli sandwiches and pizzas. Many also have partnered with larger brands, including Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway, with locations attached to their stores.
“Those really bring in the customer,” Greenberg says. “They can almost have a sit-down meal where the store operators are preparing the food.”
These have led to Topicz distributing more products to its customers. “We’ve definitely embraced the foodservice sector,” he says. “We’ve brought in new items and new vendors.”
Greenberg is proud of the loyalty Topicz has earned from both its customers and its employees. “There’s a product commitment between both parties,” he says, noting that many have worked for the company for up to 20 to 30 years.
Its client base, he adds, has helped Topicz achieve its sales goals and sent “thank you” letters for its service.
“That shows I’m providing all the tools necessary for employees to be successful and get the products out to our customers, [so they] have the top products for their customers to purchase,” he says.
Greenberg sees a strong future for Topicz, as it grows with its local communities and clients. “I’m also proud of getting the chance to work with my grandfather, who purchased it in the 1980s,” he says, noting that he represents the fourth generation of his family in the firm.
Topicz has earned rave reviews from its clients, including Kirit (Kenny) Patel of Mt. Repose Mini Mart. “Topicz has been my convenience store distributor for almost 15 years,” Patel said in a statement.
“I have been extremely happy with the outstanding level of service that I have received from them, and I have referred several convenience store owners to Topicz,” he said. “Over the years, I have established wonderful relationships with the staff at Topicz and look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come.”
G. Sharpco Inc. Vice President of Operations Steve Lapke also praised the company. “Topicz has proven to be an excellent strategic partner,” he said. “The quality of their people, customer service and delivery performance is beyond reproach. We are happy we made the switch to Topicz and look forward to further developing our strategic alliance.”