What’s most important for Ronan Sullivan of Vernon Catering isn’t being the biggest, but being the best. From a well respected retail shop in Clontarf in the 1950’s to a diverse supplier of fruit and vegetables, dairy, dried goods and disposables to restaurants throughout Dublin, Vernon Catering has always been built around satisfying the customer and ensuring a consistent supply of the highest quality produce.
“We open at 3.30am. We go all the way through until 12 at night, so it’s nearly a 24 hours operation,” explains Ronan. “Our main focus in the morning is to try and get the orders assembled and loaded. The guys at night, do packing, bringing in deliveries, putting stuff away, prepping, and then around 9am we start to prepare orders for the next day.”
Vernon Catering moved into its current warehouse nearly three years ago, having outgrown its previous premises on nearby Ossory Road. Despite very clear growth in recent years (a sign of Dublin’s booming restaurant scene), Ronan and his team are conscious of maintaining the same level of quality their many longstanding customers expect.
“We have a floor manager who checks all the stuff and tries to make sure the quality is there and he checks through the orders. We have a three check system before it reaches the customer – the guy assembles the orders, his job is to assemble and check. Then the floor manager checks and then the driver checks when he’s delivering to the customers,” says Ronan.
Chefs are, understandably, very demanding of their suppliers. Mistakes aren’t allowed. It’s therefore just as important to Vernon Catering that not only is the produce top quality, but that the orders are correct every time. As Ronan explains: “It’s good that chefs are fussy. It’s important. If we deliver something in the morning and they don’t like it, we try get them the right product out the same day by the afternoon. Whatever issue they have, we want to get it right for them. We want to fix the problems and make sure they’re happy. It’s all about customer service.”
Profits are of course important, but equally so is retaining customers.
[pull_quote_center]At the end of the year we look at how many customers we’ve lost and gained and look at why we lost them.[/pull_quote_center]
“We’re a family business, so it’s not just business, it is personal. I put in extra hours of work because it is a family business. I go that little bit extra because of those reasons. So that’s I think the difference between a corporate model and ourselves.”
[quote_box_center]For more information, visit www.vernoncatering.ie.[/quote_box_center]