The United States is home to more than 757,000 beef cow operations, and out of the entire country, Nebraska ranks first in commercial red meat production and second for having the most cattle and cows. In fact, the state has approximately 5 million head of cattle, but only 1.7 million residents. Richard Romanoff had roots in the Cornhusker State – his great-grandfather had a beef business there – and when he founded Nebraskaland in 1989, he named his company after the state that knew a thing or two about meat.
Just as its namesake dominates the nation’s cattle market, Nebraskaland is a leader in its region’s meat distribution market. Nebraskaland is the largest variety meats distributor in the Tri-State area, as well as the largest retail distributor in the New York metropolitan market. Crain’s New York Business also listed the company as one of the top 200 privately held operations.
“When the company got started, there were a lot of companies like this whose cornerstone was one of the main proteins, such as chicken or beef,” Executive Vice President Daniel Romanoff explains. “Nebraskaland was the first to center its operations around variety meats. It was a good area to be in early, and we expanded as more customers learned how we could serve them.”
Based in the Bronx, New York, the company’s service area spans from Boston to Baltimore, and its products include boxed beef, chicken, pork, lamb, veal and variety meats. Clients come on board and stay with the company, Romanoff notes, because of Nebraskaland’s quality and service.
“On Thanksgiving Day, one of our retail customers called us – he had forgotten to order 20 chickens and he couldn’t wait until Friday,” he recalls. “It wasn’t a problem for us – he brought his truck to our warehouse and we loaded it.
“We always have people available for second runs or to make late deliveries,” he adds. “We do all we can to ensure our customers have everything they need for their business.”
Nebraskaland’s goal is to be “the primary supplier to New York supermarkets and to provide the best service possible for customers,” Romanoff says. To this end, the company focuses on the quality of its orders and operations.
This past year, Nebraskaland integrated the Retalix management software into its systems to streamline operations at its 101,000-square-foot warehouse. Romanoff says this automated the company’s entire system and connected every department, providing everyone with more information and improving efficiency. It also implemented a paperless, voice-automated picking system, which has improved efficiency and accuracy of the orders.
“The new system definitely has made us more organized,” he says. “We have the same work force size, but we are more efficient – even with a heavier workload because we’re growing.”
Nebraskaland receives product directly from the packers, and nothing sits on the shelf for long. Every person at the company is responsible for quality.
“The picker checks the item when picked, and a second person checks the item’s condition before it is added to the rest of the order,” Romanoff says. “A third person checks the order and photographs the pallet, and a fourth person – the loader – checks to make sure the correct product is loaded onto the truck.”
The company also installed an automated routing system, and is adding GPS systems to the 45 trucks in its fleet.
“This gives us the most efficient routing for our orders and helps ensure we get orders to our customers on time,” he says. “The routing system also works with the GPS software on our trucks to show where our drivers are, if they’ve been at a client’s stop for too long, or if they are lost and need directions.”
Nebraskaland’s retail distribution operation is growing at a steady pace, but growing even faster is the company’s wholesale business, which it launched four years ago from an office in southern New Jersey. This unit primarily serves foodservice clients from Philadelphia to Boston, but it recently has expanded into western Pennsylvania, upstate New York and as far south as Baltimore.
In the last year, the wholesale unit tripled in size and Nebraskaland had to add three satellite offices to keep up with demand, Romanoff notes. It was the “hard work of all of our employees” that allowed the company to efficiently adjust and still meet clients’ needs, he says, and Nebraskaland’s service will ensure its continued growth in the wholesale and retail distribution areas.
“I am definitely proud of the relationships we have with our customers and the trust that we’ve built,” he says. “Everyone is buying the same product from the packers – the difference is how you handle that product and the service that you provide.”