TK Magazines: A Matter of Degrees

Spring 2004

Pate Dawson Company

The Pate Dawson Company has doubled its sales in the past year. And in some areas of the business, more than tripled it.

When asked their secret, Kenneth Rich, Pate Dawson Company vice president, said, "Our success is built on a few different factors. One of them is aligning our company with partners and customers who think like us. Another is Pate Dawson Company's commitment to its people. Our first goal is not profitability. The quality of the lives of our employees is number one."

It is these old-fashioned values that have guided the company's way for over 100 years. The success of Pate Dawson Company (PDC) has been a classic story of hard work, honesty and solid principles. Founded in 1885 by J.H. Pate, the company started as a small-town grocery store.

Its ability to adjust and adapt to the ever-changing requirements of customers has enabled PDC to grow considerably over the years. Along the way, it has evolved from a retail grocery store to a food distributor, continually expanding its products and services. PDC broadened its distribution area in 1954, due to the addition of Pate Derby Co., in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

As the foodservice industry continued to evolve, PDC invested in professional people, a state-of-the-art information system and a new distribution facility in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Today, the company services customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. PDC is now one of the largest and most progressive independent foodservice distributors in the Southeast.

"We are efficient and modern, yet we maintain old-fashioned principles. We buy first-class equipment and try new products. This allows us to provide our customers with the highest level of quality and service. Our continued growth will come from word of mouth," said Rich.

PDC has 75 trailers and 6 straight trucks. It is a 100 percent Thermo King customer with a 30-year relationship with Bobby Williamson and the Williamson Thermo King Dealership family.

"When we are looking to buy new reefer units, we don't compare price. Last time we bought trailers, I called Bobby. He called our trailer suppliers directly and placed the order. We just depend on him to get it right," said Rich. "Our long-standing relationship with Thermo King is based on their treatment of us. Not how someone else doesn't perform."

The Williamson Dealerships have a success story similar to PDC's. Bobby Williamson started with Thermo King in 1971 at a facility located in the town of Wilson, North Carolina. Over the ensuing years, Bobby built a family of dealerships now employing more than 110 people in Wilson and Raleigh, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; and two locations in Atlanta, Georgia. The Williamson Dealerships continued to grow. In 1999, a second Atlanta location was added on the north side of the city, and in the year 2000, a new facility was built for the Raleigh, North Carolina, dealership.

PDC and the Williamson Dealerships continue to expand their relationship. In the past, PDC has performed maintenance and service on its own reefer units. However, in 1997 the company turned its maintenance over to Thermo King. As a result, PDC has seen the cost of their operations decrease.

While the two companies have come a long way since their humble beginnings, both still firmly believe in hard work, honesty and a superior product – values that made their founders successful and will continue to make them proud leaders in the industry.