Chasing the pennant of food distribution in Myrtle Beach

Scott Smallin
Andy & Adam Kemp of A&A Produce

Myrtle Beach is built on hand shakes, smiles and word of mouth. But they can only get you so far. After a while you have to step up to the plate and take a swing with the big boys.

A few years ago, when two small town country boys from Conway, South Carolina decided to run a local produce delivery operation, not many noticed. Starting small, A&A Produce built a brand and reputation that was founded in a strong sense of community. Local connections, healthy relationships, great products and impeccable service solidified this small company into a reliable resource to area restaurants. A&A Produce quickly rose through the minor leagues of the food distribution industry and is now playing in the big leagues.

A&A Produce has always seemed poised to get on base where the big companies fail. Same day delivery, no minimum order, buying direct from the farm, A+ rating fruits and vegetables, local produce – these were the things that garnered big league praise from Myrtle Beach restaurateurs. A&A Produce's emphasis on direct from the farm, the ability to solidify strong deals, and old-fashioned determination and hustle make for strong competition with the big boy food distributors.

But how can small town folks really compete with national food distributors? What do they do that make the other teams take notice?

Andy Kemp (one of the A's in A&A) states:

The biggest difference between them and us is the fact we care. We are from Horry County. Born here. Raised here. Live here. We care because we know these people. We support our community by purchasing the best and securing strategic deals to provide topnotch fruits and vegetables to our patrons. I can honestly tell you that you cannot find any better product along the beach.

Hand shakes and smiles aside, when it comes to business the old saying goes, "Business is business." To dismiss these country boys as not having any business sense would be to overlook their tutelage in training camp and their time in the minor leagues.

A&A's training camp consisted of growing up where one parent owned and operated a successful small business right out of the family home while the other parent learned the tricks of the trade working for one of the major league food distributors. A&A experienced first hand what hard work and determination could do for a small business while listening to some of the constant struggles that small restaurant owners faced when ordering from a big distributor.

When it was time for A&A to enter the minor league it was no wonder that Andy Kemp got drafted to work directly for one of the big boy food distributors. In his first year Andy was awarded the distinct title of "Rookie of the Year." Younger brother Adam Kemp took a different route through the minors and received his CDL trucking license in order to help cut delivery costs for the family business.

Combining all of this knowledge, work ethic, training and hustle into their overall business plan has set-up A&A Produce for a winning major league season.

It's simple. We cut cost where it doesn't affect our product. From strategic delivery routes to buying direct – we do it right. We live by our motto: 'Produce is our product. Service is our business.' We do what others cannot. The big guys are a juggernaut. Once that ball is rolling it's hard to stop. We on the other hand can change, adapt and modify at any giving notice. This gives us the ability to modify pricing in favor of our customers, not the other way around.

After nine years in the game, A&A Produce is taking a serious run at the title. Playing off the fundamentals that have gotten them this far, they have added a few new key components to their roster. Expanding their facility to include dry loading bays, tri-level climate-controlled storage facilities, additional docking bays, and remote ordering and inventory control, A&A Produce has given the other teams something to think about.

We do what we do 'cause we love it. We love the area, the people, and the relationships we have built up over the years. I think this frightens the other distributors to the point that they are willing to try to discredit our little business. It's hard for them to fathom our dedication to Myrtle Beach and our customers. They seem to be paycheck players while we are more like franchise players. We're franchise players 'cause we aren't going anywhere. They are here to chase that mighty dollar. We're here to build a foundation.

A&A Produce has stepped up to the plate and the bases are loaded. They seemed poised to take that swing, hoping to crack one over the fence on the big distributors. Whether they hit the home run or not, many Myrtle Beach area restaurants feel as if A&A Produce has already won the game. 


For more info on A&A Produce checkout the following:

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