view current print edition




Coming off its best year ever, Ben B. keeping an eye on the future

by Daniel Jalil | January 10, 2011
DETROIT — Ben B. Schwartz & Sons Inc. on the Detroit Produce Terminal, here, has just completed the best year in its long history and is looking to the future as the next generation of leadership at the company is finding its footing.

Nate Stone, chief operating officer of the 105-year-old company, said that 2010 "was a blockbuster. This company has been in business over 100 years; that was the best year in the history of the company."

He added, “People in general want to depend and be able to count on the consistency of quality and style of a business. We found that people were more comfortable doing business with Ben B. because of our professional approach. There is a level of confidence associated with doing business with a successful company. In these times of uncertainty, I think that you want to do business with somebody you can count on. We take the risk out of doing business.”

Regarding the “uncertainty” of the times in Detroit in particular, Mr. Stone said, “We see that there is more opportunity than reason for gloom. I don't want to say that” there are not problems. “But it is a matter of perspective. People are hurting, but not everyone here.”

Looking ahead, Jake Billmeyer, son of Chris Billmeyer, president of the firm, has joined the company full time and is establishing himself in the family business he will one day lead. “Jake is a bright spot for Chris,” Mr. Stone said of the 23-year-old, who represents the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the business. Mr. Stone said Jake has “such an incredible sense of the business. In and of itself, that provides the staff with a confidence in the future of the company. We had no idea that genetics would apply in this circumstance, but it really appears that it has. It is clearly in his blood. The kid is phenomenal.”

Mr. Stone continued, “With Jake coming on board, the guys know that they can be here for a long time. They are making plans, they are confident, they are excited about the future. There is an incredible sense of worth amongst our group for everyone else’s well being. Success has a way of breeding that, and it allows people to wake up and enjoy their day. They are hard-working guys with good reason.”

Mr. Stone also credited Ben B. Schwartz’s suppliers with having a hand in its success. “Another contributing factor has to be certainly our shippers that not only supply us with the product, but supply us with what we need to be in business. By ourselves, we are just another company. But it is our shippers and our customers and the company’s expertise that results in success for all those associated with Ben B. That combination of parties makes for a successful and sustainable business.”

Mr. Stone concluded, “There is no stopping this company.”