The goal of Botticelli Foods was to build the family-owned company, create a successful brand and get their olive oil on Wal-Mart shelves when it was ready.
It took 10 years.
Joseph Asaro started Botticelli Foods back in 2002. Born in Sicily to a family who owned olive oil manufacturing facilities, Asaro combined that heritage with his life’s experience in the grocery industry to start his own company. Joseph’s sons, Salvatore and Rosario now continue running the family business.
Vice President of National Sales Anthony Ienna has been with the company since day one and is a partner.
“Our primary focus was there,” said Ienna, “When we got into business we asked if you start with Wal-Mart or other retailers and we knew Wal-Mart was so wide that it was important to build our brand and work our way outward.”
Building the Botticelli brand took 10 years and has become the number two brand in the New York marketplace. Not a bad standing considering that the New York market consumes the most olive oil of any part of the country.
“In the beginning you never know where it is going to go but with hard work after the first three years we knew this day would come,” he said.
Botticelli olive oil has been in a select number of Wal-Mart stores for a month.
The retailer is known in the vendor community for doing things “the Wal-Mart way” but Ienna credits his buyer Tim Robinson for making the process go smoothly.
“It was easier than other retailers. Tim was willing to try what would be a new brand for Wal-Mart and willing to expand our footprint although it’s an established brand in the Northeast,” Ienna said.
While it was easier there is still a definite learning curve going from a family business to the largest retailer in the world, he added.
“There are some new learnings,” he said, one of them being Retail Link, the database of sales, item file and stockholding information accessible by buyers and suppliers.
Botticelli Foods utilized 8th and Walton to help monitor its sales. Service provider, 8th and Walton was founded in 2006 to help suppliers do business better with Wal-Mart with dozens of classes from supply chain to customer insights.
“From a sales and marketing perspective, Retail Link is an invaluable tool. If we have to make a course correction, it gives us the information to do that,” Ienna explained.
Ienna said at other retailers, information about his olive oil is available through promotional sales numbers or monthly spin activity reports.
“Instead of correcting the problem when it already exists, Retail Link is a tool that prevents negative sales and Wal-Mart is the only one who has it.”
Ienna is looking to succeed at Wal-Mart and he’s confident customers will find and buy his product throughout the country and not just with New Yorkers. His goals stretch not just to olive oil on the shelves but other products his company carries.
“We’ve grown into roasted red peppers, fine pastas and vinegars, the goal is to have all the products on the shelves,” he said.
He expects to see Botticelli’s entire line available for Wal-Mart customers within three years.
Ienna said he feels a real sense of achievement and is thankful. He’s a self-made businessman and he said success isn’t just on monetary levels.
“I’m driven by passion and so are the employees of Botticelli Foods. We have olive oil in our veins and we love what we do. I feel blessed and it’s been a lifetime of growing the brand and making families happy,” he said.