Our Food and Health Network sponsor feature this month is Regional Access, based in Ithaca, NY. Asa Redmond, Vice President of Operations, shared information about the company his father started and its commitment to distributing great food and strengthening the regional food system.
About Regional Access “Regional Access was built on a vision of inspiring grassroots, regional foods connections. For founder Gary Redmond that meant connecting consumers to products they couldn’t source anywhere else, and introducing them to products he loved that they hadn’t even heard of yet. Above all else Regional Access brought great food to market across the state. Gary was part of the first wave of food focused entrepreneurs; before Whole Foods opened their second store, before big box stores jumped on the organic bandwagon, and before dozens of startups promised to somehow connect you to the food system using only some new software platform and FedEx. Regional Access better connects consumers to their food by being the single bond between responsibly produced high quality food, and the stores, restaurants, and communities across the state that demand it.”
Where does it all start? “Regional Access takes special pride in the variety of farm partners and smaller scale producers throughout NYS and the Northeast that supply us. We understand the complexities of balancing the budget against what are often perceived to be higher priced local items. However, we feel strongly that by promoting and supporting these regional producers we are helping educate consumers about the triple bottom line type calculations that make our offerings better for the communities we serve, and more cost effective in the long run.
Above all else Regional Access strives to provide better and more unique options than the multi-billion dollar conglomerates that dominate the food distribution system and limit choice among their customers.”
What keeps us focused? “Being humble! Although we have been earned a reputation as one of the area’s long term champions of great food and local producers, we all know that Gary Redmond founded Regional in his garage. From one truck and a husband and wife team all the way to our current fleet of trucks and nearly 40 employees, staying focused on our customers and the quality of the food has stayed constant. Listening to our customers and our partners above all else allowed us to drown out the noise and convulsions of the food industry to create a unique list of offerings that our employees are proud to sell and a company they are proud to be a part of.”
Regional Access and our community. “To find ourselves still experiencing strong growth after almost 3 decades in business speaks to the loyalty of our customers and the value the food community has seen in our offerings. From the old warehouse in Trumansburg a truly unique confederation of employees, farmers, and customers seemed to form. Chefs stopped in for chocolate on the way into work, an employee would run a late arriving product down to a retailer on their way home, and a farmer might stop in because they heard we can move product from their fields to the city in 24 hours. These types of spur of the moments service opportunities became natural, and for every success a stronger bond was formed between supplier, distributor, and consumers. Our employees live here, we work here, and we spend our hard earned paychecks here. There are no out of state stockholders to pay fealty to, there is simply the desire of the board and all employees to create a lasting positive impact on the beautiful upstate communities we all call home. That’s what Gary felt when he started Regional Access and that’s what continues to motivate us all today.”
What’s next? “We want to continue to bring the best possible food to market at the best possible price. By increasing our reach into new territories such as western MA, VT, NJ, and CT we are providing more and more avenues for our suppliers to make their products known and loved. New York City is the 1,000 pound gorilla of course, and by providing a near constant stream of routes in and around that market we are better enabling downstate consumers to bring the freshest possible products into their fridges and onto their menus. We want the end consumer to feel the same feelings of purpose and pride that we do when they see a new product on the shelf that says Made in Ithaca, Made in Trumansburg, or Made in NYC. These are our friends and neighbors and working towards our shared success is what we will keep doing every single day.”
Regional Access over the years.