Growing up, I was always told to never forget where I come from. Since then, that has become a guiding principle in my life, and I have found that others who are able to stay true to themselves while also allowing the room to flourish find a success that is deeply rooted and lasting. Roland Foods’ story is testament to this concept—with tenacity, family, and collaboration being the longstanding pillars for its values and foundation for growth.
The company recently decided to undergo a re-fresh, Chief Marketing Officer Mandy Levenberg shares with me, a process that involves a new logo and a complete overhaul of its website. The inspiration behind this rebranding, though, is history found in past logos and nostalgia felt with the stories those companies tell. A perfect storm of old and new, the site shares iconic images from the company’s past and a fresh spin to boost connections with customers and suppliers in the future. The transition is a work in progress since the company has over 1,500 products from over 500 suppliers.
“While the re-branding is much more than labels, we are considering how to incorporate the new look and feel there as well. We have award-winning packaging design, and we’re still in transition—designing labels that have the new logo, incorporating new brand and style guidelines into our packaging mix, and letting the old logo run its course of printed items out in the marketplace,” Mandy shares. “For now, it is a beautiful inconsistency that seems to work, and we’re proud of the direction we’re heading with the look, feel, and storytelling we’re engaged in at Roland Foods.”
As she walks me through the company’s re-fresh process, I ask Mandy what makes the company stand out from others. To this, she shoots it to me straight—it’s all in the company’s DNA. When building its strategy for excellence, the company took care to include a strand within its genetic makeup that tended to community well beyond work hours.
“Our values have always been the threads of the fabric of Roland Foods, and in the past year or so, we’ve worked hard to surface and talk more about those values. We are having these ‘values conversations’ internally, with our suppliers, and with our customers. We are proud of our values—integrity, collaboration, agility, passion, and community—and how we continue to embody them across our business inside and outside of our offices,” Mandy tells me. “We care about our employees; we care for our suppliers and customers, and while we have always extended ourselves into the community, we are in the process of more focus and bigger impact projects that align with our beliefs, our business skills, and our strengths that we can offer organizations in need.”
The company’s main focus right now is on its campaign #RolandFillsYourPantry. With this initiative, the company has three core goals:
With #RolandFillsYourPantry, the company supports new entrants into the culinary scene, including at-risk adults, by providing scholarship money for aspiring culinary students to gain access to the requirements to meet the culinary curriculums and providing products to cafes and kitchens where participants in the programs can gain quality training in facilities. To do this, the company has teamed up with Emma’s Torch, an organization that trains refugees to become chefs; LA Kitchen, an organization that works with formerly incarcerated adults by training them for a culinary career; and the Food and Finance High School, a New York-based school that supports students’ paths within the culinary arts.
This focus on the past boils down to building the future for Roland Foods, Mandy tells me.
“We have always had a strong emphasis on giving back to the community, from our founding through today, and we believe this will always be an integral part of our internal culture. We think about this when hiring people—do they share our values?—and as a way to retain our finest talent—how might this evolve? We don’t see our community engagement as a separate entity from our corporate strategy—we are thinking holistically about our values and our community engagement across the spectrum of our business.”
Just like that, I can feel the industry grow in new and diverse ways. It’s amazing what happens when you spark intrigue with a new look, all the while never forgetting where you come from.