INNOVATE

Interview with Joe Smith, Senior Vice President of Sales at Monin

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Joe Smith has over 40 years of sales and management experience in the food and beverage industry. Prior to joining Monin, his career included major accomplishments in sales and sales management positions at Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. and Hills Bros. Coffee.

Since joining Monin, Joe has restructured the Sales and Customer Service departments, and implemented a strategic business development plan that included adding the Sales Operations department and expanding staff in the Beverage Innovation area. Under Joe’s leadership over the last 15 years, Monin has been awarded many beverage excellence honors by valued customers and organizations. These include the Cheers Small Non-Alcoholic Beverage Supplier of the Year award nine years in a row, and Vibe’s Non-Alcoholic Supplier of the Year award for 2010 through 2014. Additionally, Outback Steakhouse named Monin Supplier of the Year for four consecutive years, and Darden has bestowed on Monin the William B. Darden Award. In 2014, Joe received the Sixth Annual Millennium Advisory Board (MAB) Icon Award. The award recognizes his positive impact in the hospitality industry.

Joe is the senior vice president of Sales at Monin and is responsible for all sales in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Also reporting to Joe is the Sales Operations department as well as Customer Service. He is currently the chairman of the board for CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees) and an active member of ABI. A graduate of Northeastern University, Joe resides in Boston/Florida.

I had the chance to meet with Joe at the in the Mix / IMI Agency’s B4 (Building Better Beverage Business) Summit meeting at the Cloister Hotel on Sea Island.


Mike Raven: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, Joe. How long have you been with Monin?

Joe Smith: I am about to start my 15th year with Monin.

MR: The first question is why do so many famous hotels and restaurants trust in Monin and use your syrups and flavorings?

JS: We are very fortunate to have wonderful customers who trust Monin because of our proven track record of delivering quality in every aspect of our business. With over 100 years of tradition, we strive to provide innovative, customized and on-trend solutions that generate a high level of trial, sales and ultimately support a successful beverage program.

With our team of beverage innovation directors (BIDS), we create tailor-made solutions that fit the unique needs of each customer. From seasonal recipes to operational efficiencies, our focus is on the
customers’ goals and objectives.


 

BloodOrangeBasilRita

Blood Orange Basil ‘Rita

INGREDIENTS

Ice
2 leaves     Fresh basil
1 ¼ oz       Premium reposado tequila
½ oz          Grand Marnier
1 oz             Monin® Blood
Orange Syrup
2 oz             Sour mix
Garnish Options
Orange wheel
Basil leaf

PREPARATION

1.  Combine ingredients in shaker in the order listed.
2.  Cap and shake vigorously.
3.  Strain over fresh ice in serving glass.
4.  Garnish.


MR: How many flavors does Monin make available in the U.S. market?

JS: We have over 150 flavors today across our range of products, including premium syrups, gourmet sauces, fruit purées and fruit smoothie mixes. Our flavor experts are always evaluating trends from around the world to make sure we deliver fresh new flavors that generate excitement and new ideas for our customers’ menus.

MR: If a customer wants to try using Monin for the first time, what flavors on the short list would you suggest to him?

JS: That really depends on the application. For example, mango is a great flavor for a cocktail or iced tea but I wouldn’t suggest it for a specialty coffee application. If a customer is looking for something with a slightly different profile, we would offer one of our sweet and savory flavors that would work well in a variety of beverages and culinary applications. We ask a lot of questions, and based on the response and customer’s objectives, we deliver on-trend flavors that fit with our customer’s brand personality and menu goals.

We can offer flavors for taking a margarita platform to new heights with flavors like peach, raspberry, pomegranate and desert pear. If tiki-style cocktails are what you are after, we offer a lineup of exotic flavors such as passion fruit, ginger and coconut.

Seasonality plays a significant role on menus. This is where gingerbread, pumpkin and peppermint are sure winners.

The great thing about our product portfolio is that we can provide an easy-to-execute solution to any beverage need a customer may have. Alcoholic or non-alcoholic, kids’ beverages to adult mocktails, hot or cold, iced or frozen – we have a product that will generate excitement, trial and profit.

Monin_Portrait_5C

MR: Your website is superb. I imagine a lot of restaurateurs use it for recipes and ideas. Do you get a lot of positive feedback from it?

JS: We recently launched a newly-designed website, Monin.com (October 2015). It is a great place to find tips, recipes, seasonal ideas and new applications for our products. You will also find company background and detailed product information. Staying relevant with our customers is very important to us and our blog is a platform for our chefs and our BIDs (beverage innovation directors)  to share their latest creations and inspiration.

MR: Monin is constantly reacting to new trends and flavors. Your list of new products is always full of them. How do you keep up with everything?

JS: Staying on top of consumer demand is critical for us and we strive to be ahead of the trends that drive demand. Monin’s Flavor Forward Process allows us to identify these upcoming trends and emerging flavors by taking a 360-degree view of the global environment and determining how it affects our industry. Additionally, Monin’s proprietary consumer research gives us unique insight into what consumers are looking for. Monin products are distributed in over 145 countries today and are supported by 19 BIDs and 89 brand ambassadors who provide a global perspective on what is happening around the world.

We will have some new and exciting syrups and fruit purées to share with you in 2016!


 

StoneSourStone Sour

INGREDIENTS

Ice
1 oz           Monin® Stone Fruit Syrup
1 ½ oz    Whiskey
2 oz         Scratch sour mix
Club soda

GARNISH OPTIONS

Mint sprig
Peach slice
Cherry

PREPARATION

1.  Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice.
2.  Cap and shake and pour into serving glass.
3.  Top with club soda.
4.  Garnish.


MR: A lot of cocktail enthusiasts talk “always-fresh” ingredients. How does Monin work in those parameters?

JS: Because we use only the finest ingredients in our syrups, they actually work to brighten and accent the flavor of fresh ingredients. So combining fresh ingredients with Monin products easily creates fresh, multi-dimensional flavor and balances out the drink profile, enabling customers to provide the same delicious beverage all year long.

Incorporating Monin products into a bar-fresh program has many benefits. Our products provide consistent flavor and color all year long, without limitations to seasonality and fluctuations in cost and flavor. Fresh fruit does not have a consistent profile throughout the year; however, adding a ¼ of an ounce of Monin Strawberry to a fresh strawberry beverage in the middle of winter provides that same juicy fresh profile you remember from summer. Monin fruit purées contain real fruit and therefore are an easy way to add freshness cues and texture to a variety of beverages.

MR: We tend to think mostly about cocktails at ITM but there are many more ways on-premise accounts can use Monin products. Can you give us a few good examples of how to use them?

JS: Monin products can be used in both the front and back of the house. They prove to be versatile in many non-alcoholic beverages, cocktails and culinary applications. For example, our gourmet sauces and fruit purées are perfect for adding some flair and a decorative look to plates, or as an indulgent topping for some signature desserts. They are great in cocktails and an easy way to add a rich flavor profile to shakes and specialty coffees.

Monin products can easily be incorporated into menu items in all dayparts. We have a wide range of flavors that provide chefs a palette to experiment with and enable them to create innovative dishes.


HoneyMangoMuleHoney Mango Mule

INGREDIENTS

Ice
1 ½ oz    Vodka
½ oz       Monin® Honey Mango Syrup
¾ oz       Monin® Old Fashioned Ginger Ale Syrup
¾ oz       Fresh lime juice
Soda Water

GARNISH OPTIONS

Mint sprig
Mango
Lime

PREPARATION

1.  Combine vodka, flavored syrups and lime juice in mixing glass with ice.
2.  Cap and shake vigorously.
3.  Pour back into serving glass and top with soda water.
4.  Roll once to mix.
5.  Garnish.


MR: Fruit smoothie mixes – I’ve tried them and they’re great. What’s the benefit for beverage managers to use them?

JS: Monin fruit smoothie mixes are made with only natural ingredients and allow operators a quick, great tasting way to offer consistent quality smoothies all year long. They are simple to make – just pour
over ice, blend and serve! Voilà. Like all of our products, they all have multiple applications and our fruit smoothie mix can also be used to create tasty frozen lemonade or can be added to iced tea for more
complexity and texture.

MR: You carry quite a few organic products. Are you seeing sales of those increase alongside the organic trend?

JS: We’ve had our organic syrup line for a while now and have certainly seen interest in organic. I think
their popularity can be attributed to the fact that they are all natural. This is the bigger health and wellness trend that we see emerging. Consumer awareness is growing daily. With the new menu labeling laws coming in 2016 and consumers becoming more interested in what they are eating, the origin of products and the calorie count, this trend will continue to grow. That is why we have developed an extensive line of flavors that are natural, GMO free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, kosher and halal.

MR: I see you offer a variety of sugar-free syrups. Do on-premise accounts use these or are they more for retail?

JS: Monin sugar-free syrups are perfect for creating low calorie (skinny) offerings in restaurants or at home. We see these becoming a popular solution on-premise as customers look for calorie count transparency and menu-labeling laws become enforced.

MR: How do new customers find your product? What kind of distributor network do you use?

JS: We showcase our products in a variety of ways: traditional print advertising, local and national industry events like VIBE, NRA, the Flavor Experience, distributor shows and regional shows.

We have an extensive network of national, broad-line foodservice distributors as well as a large group of local, independent distributors. Our products are also available through several spirit wholesalers, specialty coffee distributors and, of course, online at Monin.com. We work to make sure our products are available and easily accessible across all 50 states.

MR: I heard you recently celebrated a grand opening for the new Innovation Center in Clearwater, Florida. What is in this new space?

JS: We’re all very excited about our new Innovation Center, which is located in Clearwater, Florida, our U.S. headquarters. The space features a new state-of-the-art kitchen and remodeled bar/café. The Innovation Center acts as a space for Monin chefs and BIDs to work in conjunction with our customers to develop custom menus and seasonal,  on-trend recipes. The team provides full service support, from ideation to implementation.


SmokedBourbonPeachSmoked Bourbon and Peach

INGREDIENTS

Ice
¼ oz    Monin® Hickory Smoke Syrup
½ oz    Monin® Peach Fruit Purée
2 oz    Fresh sour mix
1 ½ oz    Bourbon
Splash    Club Soda

GARNISH OPTIONS

Bacon/glazed with Monin Spiced Brown Sugar Syrup
Peach slices

PREPARATION

1.  Combine ingredients, except club soda, in serving glass.
2.  Cap and shake vigorously.
3.  Strain over fresh ice in rocks glass.
4. Top with a splash of club soda.
5.  Garnish.


MR: I understand you are the chairman of the board for CORE. Can you tell us about this organization?

JS: Yes, I am very proud to have served on the board of directors for CORE for almost 10 years, the last three as chairman. CORE is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to helping children of restaurant employees who have been afflicted with life-threatening conditions or affected by life-altering circumstances. CORE represents some of the things that make the hospitality industry so great – the people, the passion and a strong feeling and desire to “give back to our own.” Over the past 11 years, CORE has raised over $1.5 million and has helped over 100 children with grants that have put a bright smile back on their faces.

CORE is just one of the things Monin does to support the community. We are also partners with Grounds for Health, which helps prevent cervical cancer in women from coffee-growing communities through education and screening.

At Monin, we are strong believers in people and things that affect their well-being. In addition
to the charities mentioned above, we support many local charities. We are environmentally friendly and have qualified as an Environmental Protection Agency WasteWise Partner, because of our efforts in conserving energy.


SpicyLimeRitaSpicy Lime ‘Rita

INGREDIENTS

Ice
2 slices    Jalapeño
Pinch       Cilantro
1 ¼ oz     Premium tequila
½ oz        Triple sec
1 oz           Monin® Habanero
Lime Syrup
2 oz           Sour mix

GARNISH OPTIONS

Lime
Dip rim of glass in Monin Habanero
Lime Syrup, then salt
Red and green jalapeño pepper slices

PREPARATION

1.  Combine ingredients in shaker in the order listed.
2.  Cap and shake vigorously.
3.  Strain over fresh ice in serving glass.
4.  Garnish.


MR: What flavors do you see trending today?

JS: I think a better question is who and what are driving today’s flavors. You have to say the Millennials are certainly a primary factor. They want to experiment with new flavors, mix them with something familiar and be able to customize their choice to have it “my way.” Looking ahead, we believe blended flavors will be a strong trend. Strawberry basil would be a good example. Consumers are interested in new, innovative beverage ideas and we provide a global perspective with a range of products, like our Asian-influenced lemongrass and ginger, to satisfy this need.

MR: Finally, what are the beverage trends you see impacting restaurants next year?

JS: “Health and wellness” is having a major impact on menus. This will continue to be a very strong trend in the years ahead. As mentioned earlier, consumers are more health conscious; and with the upcoming menu labeling regulations, operators are preparing for calorie disclosure requirements. In addition to lower calorie recipes, beverage development is leaning toward less sweet flavor profiles to fit with consumers’ changing flavor and lifestyle preferences. Look for Monin’s latest Flavor Forecast, which will be available in December, for insights on 2016’s top trends and flavor predictions.


CucumSageGimletCucumber Sage Gimlet

INGREDIENTS

3 leaves  Fresh sage, smacked, torn
¾ oz       Fresh lime juice
¾ oz       Monin® Cucumber Syrup
2 oz         Hendrick’s Gin
Ice

GARNISH OPTIONS

Cucumber
Sage leaf

PREPARATION

1.  Combine ingredients in shaker in the order listed.
2.  Cap and shake vigorously.
3.  Strain into chilled serving glass.
4.  Garnish.