Posted: Apr 02, 2013
As Your Source For Foodservice Equipment
While still running his restaurants, Bill decided to use his sales and foodservice industry knowledge to open a side business selling used restaurant equipment. In doing so, he stumbled on a market with a strong demand, but few suppliers. After selling his last restaurant, Bill decided to turn his hobby into a business, and in 1973, he opened CityDiscount on Murphy Avenue in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta. In the early years, Bill got his supply of equipment from government auctions and by negotiating deals with restaurant chains that were closing, renovating their establishments or replacing their equipment. Because of their existing business relationship with Bill, KFC became one of the first chains to supply CityDiscount with product.
Current CEO, John Stack, joined the family-owned business in 1977. He graduated college in 1973, and began his career as an electrical engineer. He worked at Westinghouse for several years rebuilding hospital equipment before coming on board part time as an equipment technician. John learned a great deal about the foodservice business from his father. Ultimately, John realized that working for his family-owned business was something he wanted to pursue full time, and in the early 1990’s, John took over for his retiring father.
During the late 1990’s, eBay, an internet consumer-to-consumer corporation featuring an online auction and shopping website, had become a notable success story. It was during this time that John began experimenting with selling these coffeemakers on eBay. Unexpectedly, the eBay experiment took off, and ACityDiscount began selling more than just the coffeemakers on eBay. While John’s father Bill specialized in selling used equipment, John began adding more new equipment to ACityDiscount’s product offerings. Furthermore, other changes to the business were on the horizon. During that time, ACityDiscount was selling more online and began shifting their focus from cultivating in-store customers to generating business on eBay. With this new found success on eBay, John began working on creating eBay’s first freight calculator and integrating ACityDiscount’s inventory with eBay via the eBay API, enabling the company to better meet demand and therefore contributing to the future success of the ACityDiscount eBay Store, which opened in 2004.
By 2003, ACityDiscount was recognized at the 2003 eBay Seller Summit as the auction site’s best merchandiser because of their success in using various eBay merchandising tools to improve sales. For example, ACityDiscount utilized cross-selling techniques, such as related items links, to entice eBay customers of one auction to buy from another auction or from their eBay Store. Today, ACityDiscount is an eBay Titanium PowerSeller, which means that the business generates at least $150,000 in sales each month and maintains a high level of positive Feedback (98% positive or better).
The company has set itself apart from the competition through its understanding of e-commerce, the foodservice industry, and the development of applications which make e-commerce more profitable. ACityDiscount has a major presence on several shopping comparison sites, including Google, NexTag, and Bizrate. Though the online sales grew with the implementation of these applications, the company eventually re-opened the retail store on Murphy Avenue in 2008. However, a bulk of the company’s business continues to come from selling new and used foodservice equipment, from over 200 of the leading manufacturers, through their online site.
Now in its 40th year, ACityDiscount has seen growth in many aspects of its business. It has seen increases in revenue, number of employees and facilities. In February 2011, ACityDiscount moved from its headquarters in the West End to a 60,000 sq. ft. showroom and warehouse facility in Norcross, Georgia. Here, the company is centrally located near thousands of restaurants and directly off of a busy interstate. The 30,000 sq. ft. showroom provides customers with the convenience of viewing, purchasing and picking up equipment and furniture during business hours. A wide selection of new and used foodservice equipment is on display in the showroom.
While ACityDiscount is known for having a large internet presence, since re-opening its retail store in 2008, and moving into a spacious showroom with plenty of warehouse space, they have seen an increase in showroom sales. To keep up with the increase of showroom sales, ACityDiscount purchased a truck specifically for in-town deliveries, and has plans to expand their foothold in the local market with a dedicated outside sales force. The goal of the outside sales representatives will be to maintain contact with current customers and to attract new ones. They will manage all local accounts, and demonstrate all items ACityDiscount has available for purchase.
In 2012, ACityDiscount became a member of the National Association of Food Equipment Dealers (NAFED) cooperative buying group. By joining NAFED, ACityDiscount passed along the membership benefits to their customers by adding hundreds of manufacturers to their product offerings. By the end of their first year with the buying group, ACityDiscount reached tier 1 status and hopes to continue this trend of success with NAFED for many years to come.
Though he worked at ACityDiscount part time during high school and college, a third generation, Marty Stack, joined this family-run business full time in 1999, with the goal of ensuring that ACityDiscount remains one of the nation’s top suppliers of new and used restaurant equipment to the foodservice industry. Marty, John and ACityDiscount’s Controller, Glenn Jones, have maintained existing business relationships, and developed new contacts with manufacturers and representatives of the foodservice equipment industry to continue to provide the same level of support and discount prices to customers that they have been providing since 1973.
Marty, ACityDiscount’s Executive Vice President, has been instrumental in procuring the current associate team. The ACityDiscount team values providing excellent and memorable customer support above all else. Their customers demand a large selection of best in class products at affordable prices, backed up with a knowledgeable sales staff and a supportive customer service team. ACityDiscount delivers that by being a fully supportive dealer. All ACityDiscount team members work hard to sell and promote desired products, ensure prompt shipping, and ultimately impact customer satisfaction. They are available to answer customers’ calls, questions and logistics concerns. The sales team is knowledgeable, and willing to educate and walk their customers through the entire purchasing process.
The ACityDiscount customer service department is there to provide full support for their existing customers. They are available to answer questions regarding manufacturers’ warranties, product defects and general questions that arise after a purchase has been made. ACityDiscount recognized early on that it can be just as difficult to retain customers as it is to win them in the first place. In order to establish a strong customer base, they focus on customer service skills to encourage repeat business. Every person in the company, from the management team to warehouse, employees rehearses proper customer service skills on a regular basis. Performing above and beyond the customer’s expectations is a critical part of ACityDiscount’s success.
In 2013, ACityDiscount is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. The company has seen a great deal of success, and has weathered a few storms. Through those storms, the company proved that with innovation, creativity and the right people, they could not only survive, but thrive. At ACityDiscount, every employee’s contribution is important to the company’s success. ACityDiscount’s owners and management team go out of their way to create a productive atmosphere for their employees, and as a result, their employees put forth the effort to help the company grow. ACityDiscount’s satisfied employees and low turnover has attributed to the success of the company throughout their 40 years.
As this family-owned business reflects on the past 40 years, they are also looking towards the future. In the future, John and Marty Stack plan to have additional locations and warehouses boasting both new and used equipment. They credit much of ACityDiscount’s success to their ability to adapt to the volatile market, but mostly to the loyal customers that have supported them throughout the years. They see the future as bright and full of opportunities.