It’s difficult to define just what Curve Distribution is. After all, it has spent the last decade revolutionizing the industry with its innovative approach to business and as a result created a class all its own.
“Everyone was doing the same thing and telling the same story. Everyone was becoming a commodity and we felt there was an opportunity to disrupt the industry,” says Curve Distribution CEO Dan Doherty.
That disruption established a unique, customer-centric organization that curates, markets and manages high-performing brands and gets its predominantly food, general merchandise and electronic products onto sales floors across Canada. From locally sourced food products to some of the country’s best-selling headphones, Curve’s quality products are featured everywhere from Walmart, 7-Eleven and Rexall to Best Buy, Shopper’s Drug Mart and Sobeys.
“Curve is far from the kind of traditional distribution company that quickly moves products out of a gigantic warehouse and onto as many store shelves as possible,” says Kyle Duszynski, VP brand management.
Instead, the team at Curve endeavours to understand the complete customer journey in order to provide a tailored, end-to-end service experience. Curve offers a one-stop shop, providing its retail partners with products across brands as it meets all of its customers’ needs. The relationship goes beyond merely dropping off products at stores; Curve consults, advises, sets-up merchandising, maintains stock, and analyzes sales data to be good partners with their customers and to help their partners to sell more products.
For this talented team, connectivity is the key. They consider the company as one that deals not so much in distribution as in meaningful connections. Starr Cook, Curve’s Brand Manager, focusses the team to achieve success, striving to connect great brands with the right retailers in the right locations with the right merchandising. Curve does their research. They know Canadian consumers and what they buy, and the team uses that knowledge to help propel their suppliers in the marketplace while at the same time finding the latest up-and-coming brands that would do well in their markets.
Curve works with suppliers to build solid strategies for getting them where they want to be and helps them build up their markets by providing access to the best channels for their products. Nathalie Loyer, support services manager, expertly manages this connectivity between supplier and channel, ensuring program success.
The company works with its supply partners to develop the packaging, pricing and products to ensure success in its markets. Driven by Anish Panchal, manager of data services, Curve applies its extensive knowledge of both consumer data and the retail environment to the brands under its umbrella. Data is critical. Curve is leading edge on data metrics that drive decisions, and it stratifies data in a way that puts the right products in the right place for the right customer. The team collects and analyzes POS data from partners to stay on top of trends and to track what is selling and what isn’t, and it uses that information to help partners make the best decisions about their products.
“We work tirelessly with retailers to seamlessly manage their inventory, provide unparalleled customer service and offer unique insights that make a difference to their bottom line,” says Chris Uglancia, Curve’s sales manager.
This exceptional customer service can only be delivered by an exceptional team—and Curve Distribution has the best team in the business. The 45-member team is a group of creative, solution-focused professionals who work together to arrive at the best possible outcomes.
Led by Jeff Kelly, senior VP logistics, the team was nimble when Covid-19 brought the economy to a halt and redefined how the company operated, and it is now positioned for solid performance and growth in good and challenging times alike. The logistics team found a way to continue receiving, selecting and shipping products to keep Curve running while other departments adapted to doing business remotely, even as they were adjusting to an expansion.
The December 2019 amalgamation of Curve Distribution with Elite International Foods was ideally timed and smoothly integrated, and it created the diversification required to survive not only a global pandemic but also the downturn already plaguing Alberta’s economy. The amalgamation also presented opportunities to forge relationships in new markets, allowing them to introduce other products into the food channels.
With diversified offerings and hard work, Curve was able to ride out the uncertainty without having to slash staff; in fact, it added to and strengthened the team for the future. The summer saw great sales and the team is proud to be a rare positive story amidst the prevailing doom-and-gloom in the province. Ray Sequeria, controller, says Curve came into the spring financially strong and agile. Then they invested in the team and the business throughout the lockdown, and that made all the difference. Curve is in a great position to be profitable and to grow in the years to come, all the while continuing to support the community through its involvement with such organizations as the Calgary Food Bank, Business Fore Calgary Kids, Rotary International, and various local charity and community groups.
“I’m really encouraged about the future because the way we responded during Covid has shown our suppliers and customers that we are here for the long term,” Doherty says. “The strongest individuals are the ones who are making decisions, planning and, okay—it’s not exactly as we thought it was going to be, so we had to decide what we were going to do differently.”
For more than a decade, Curve Distribution has approached business differently and continues to do things differently to build partnerships and stay ahead of the curve in Canadian product distribution.