By HEATHER NELLIS
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — Longtime local business Quandt’s Foodservice Distributors Inc. has been sold to U.S. Foods, a national corporation.
Employees were notified about the sale Thursday. Friday morning, U.S. Foods representatives told them the Quist Road facility will remain open until roughly January before closing permanently.
As for the approximate 110 people employed at the family-owned facility, U.S. Foods told them they’re working on employment options for those willing to make the drive to its Clifton Park facility.
“They told us we’d be surprised by the employment options they have,” an unnamed Quandt’s driver said.
A secretary returned a message left for Quandt’s President and CEO Robert Quandt. She directed inquiries to U.S. Foods spokesmen, and said Quandt declines comment at this time.
The sale comes a year and a half after Quandt’s confirmed it suspended plans to construct a new 126,000-square foot facility in the Florida Business Park off Route 5S.
Financials were one reason cited by company officials after it didn’t receive desired capital grant funding from the state through its regional economic development councils.
In a May 2012 interview, Kevin Thompson, the company’s chief financial officer, said after the company invested time and money into the initial planning stages for relocation, it was ultimately decided “there were too many variables in the process, and decided to back off.”
“We had an idea of something we wanted to do,” he said, reflecting on plans to build a new multi-temperature warehouse and office space. “We started to come up with contracts for it, started to pay for engineering studies. (But) as we were getting further down the process, whereby we needed to start making firm commitments, I guess our company is not ready to do that at this point in time, based on a lot of other a lot of financial considerations and what could be done for us. It made the company a little uneasy to pull the trigger.”
Thompson vaguely said a variety of reasons contributed to that decision, noting he didn’t want to “cast a shadow of doubt or blame on anybody,” but said some reasons were financial.
“Just recognizing what’s happening in our industry, recognizing additional costs associated with the [proposed] site ... the industry hasn’t picked up, it isn’t as vibrant as some were originally calling for. ... It just doesn’t look like now is the time we should be doing this.”
The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council in December 2011 announced Quandt’s was one of several local businesses to receive state funding for its project, but that none of the $900,000 award was in the form of capital grant funding, rather it would take the form of Excelsior Tax Credits.
Thompson said any benefits wouldn’t be attained until after the building was already constructed.
“We were led to believe we wouldn’t receive the majority of it until after new jobs were created,” Thompson said. “There was no grant money provided to Quandt’s to offset construction, so there is no compelling reason we need to act on this.”
Quandt’s, a family-owned business, was nearing its centennial birthday. The original Quandt’s fish market was established in 1918, according to the company’s website. It became a full-fledged supermarket in the 1950s.
Its Quist Road facility was opened in 1958, and, in 1999, a 30,000-square-foot freezer and cooler space was added to accommodate growth in its customer base.
With $22 billion in annual revenue, U.S. Foods is the 10th largest privately held company in America, according to its website. It serves more than 200,000 customers, including independent and multi-unit restaurants, health care and hospitality entities, government and educational institutions.
U.S. Foods employs approximately 25,000 people in more than 60 locations nationwide. It’s headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., and jointly owned by funds managed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Ken Rose, CEO of the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency and director of the county’s Business Development Center, said the news is difficult because Quandt's is "very identifiable with the city and town of Amsterdam as a family-owned business."
“These are business decisions between two companies, and there is nothing we can do here,” said Rose. “It happens every day across the country. Over the past few years, we’ve been extremely fortunate that we’ve not had any major closings in relation to businesses in the county, like surrounding counties have.”
Rose anticipates working with U.S. Foods to market the Quist Road facility. He believes there is a lot of potential at the site because of its cold food storage capabilities.