Damian’s began as Damian’s Frozen Lemonade in 1978. The founder, Tony Jacobs, made and served frozen drinks in the Pensacola, Florida region that soon became well-known and sought after by local businesses. In 2001, Tony decided to become a distributor of ice cream products, and the company grew to serve areas from New Orleans, Louisiana to Orlando and Tampa, Florida.
Damian’s Enterprises, Inc. offers products from quality manufacturers (Good Humor, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyer’s, Klondike) and sells them to national chains in the United States such as Walgreens, CVS, Tom Thumb, and Family Dollar. Damian’s handles the restocking and the point-of-sales material for all ice cream products to ensure that the store operator does not ever need to touch the product. It also provides portable freezer equipment and maintains the freezer at no charge for all customers.
The company sells some of the finest and most popular ice cream products that are known for quality ingredients. “Ben & Jerry’s without a doubt is one of our best-selling products, and we sell novelties by Good Humor/Breyer’s, and we sell the Magnum Bar, which is the best-selling ice cream bar in the world,” says Tony Jacobs, President and Chief Executive Officer of Damian’s Enterprises.
The most important accomplishment in the company’s history was acquiring distribution rights to the Good Humor, Ben & Jerry’s and Breyer’s original product line. The products it sold previously were of average price and average quality.
Damian’s started serving only seven Walgreens stores in the Pensacola area, and today, it has evolved into the largest Walgreens’ ice cream distributor in the country, serving 632 stores.
To ensure it ships products quickly when needed, Damian’s has five cold storage facilities located in Pensacola, Orlando, Tallahassee, Jacksonville and New Orleans. All of these warehouses are placed in areas to allow them to ship on time and move product efficiently. These efforts are the reason the company has been recognized with the Distributor of the Year award by Unilever two times since the awards began in 2009. It has also been featured in Food and Drink International magazine twice for its excellent products and service.
Now, after forty years, the company is growing approximately six to eight percent each year. The main challenge is demonstrating Damian’s value to customers that are looking for a lower priced product. For example, many independent convenience stores are looking to have the most competitively-priced product to attract more customers. “We realize that everybody is not our customer, but we know the products we have sell very well, and we feel that they would make a lot more money with the quality of our products,” says Tony.
Damian’s has experience in adjusting to new trends and products in the ice cream industry, and in recent years, it has worked to adapt to social media trends as well. It updated its website and linked it to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram where it regularly posts updates with all the newest products.
“You can promote your business through those websites, and you don’t necessarily need an ad agency or anything like that. Then people feel like they can communicate with you personally, so it’s more of a community that way,” says Jinnie Miller, Office Manager at Damian’s Enterprises.
Until a few years ago, the company was still using the Yellow Pages as the primary source for setting up communication. As a distributor, Damian’s operates as a middleman, and therefore its name is not generally well-known, but this is something that the team is trying to change with its new online presence.
The company’s strength lies in its willingness to put the customer first, even before profitability. “I’ve always felt as though if you take care of your customer, the money will follow. The money is not the first thing for us. The customer is first, and we really believe, with that in mind, we will do the right thing,” Tony says.
With the help of a local Budweiser distributor friend, Tony established a Pre-sale program that is second to none. With this system, an employee is sent into the store the day before delivery to clean the freezer, take stock of what is there, and order the required replacement products. The next day, the correct amount of ice cream is delivered, and the customer receives exactly what is needed. The system is commonly used by large distribution companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Damian’s has used both systems of delivery and found the Pre-sales system to be more efficient and far superior when it comes to satisfying the customer’s needs. It first attempted the system in New Orleans and realized that one year after converting to the new system, it had increased its business revenue for its customer by fifty-two percent. Damian’s then decided to implement this program everywhere it does business. It is more expensive up front, yet in the end, it improves profitability and customer satisfaction.
“It gives the customer somebody to contact, and it gives them somebody in charge of their account that is coming by every week, looking at the product and checking everything. They have a go-to person, and they’re not just calling an office somewhere,” says Jinnie.
Damian’s is actively involved in the community in Florida, and it enjoys giving back in a variety of ways. It participates in the many charity golf tournaments that raise money for good causes, and it donates with both money and ice cream. The Nemours Children’s Hospital truly appreciates the efforts made by Damian’s, and staff and parents have sent wonderful letters to the company expressing gratitude for taking the time every week to donate ice cream that is delivered to sick children. Damian’s strives to be the kind of company that makes a positive difference in the community.
Damian’s decided to establish an Employee of the Month program after a customer wrote to Unilever with a tremendous compliment. This customer told Unilever that, if he was offered 100,000 dollars to switch distributors, he would not do so, and he expressed how happy he was with the people at Damian’s including the drivers. The praise came out of the blue and went all the way up the Unilever chain, and this inspired Damian’s to recognize its individual employees for going the extra mile as well.
The new program fits perfectly with the customer-oriented culture of the company, as Damian’s Enterprises, Inc. is celebrating its fortieth anniversary of delivering quality frozen treats with exceptional customer service.