PROFILE

Tony Orlando

Owner, Tony O's Supermarket and Catering

Born and raised in Ashtabula, Ohio, Tony Orlando has 50 years in the food business, having started at four years of age in 1961.

Tony purchased his store in May of 1999 from his father. Through the years, he has acquired extensive knowledge of meat and deli departments. He has consulted with other independents to help their businesses grow.

Tony has served on many Midwest beef councils and also was on the Young Executives Council for the NGA, of which he is a charter member.

Tony graduated from Ohio State University in 1978 with a Bachelors in Business Administration. He is married to wife Maria and has two sons, Michael (19) and Stephen (16). Tony is also the President of the Autistic Children’s Foundation. He loves golfing, casinos and talking shop at NGA.

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  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Is on-site childcare the key to cutting employee turnover?

    These concepts can work well in the high tech industries, medical technology, and other firms that have excellent bottom lines. I don't know any employer — although I'm sure they are out there — who wouldn't want to do all these things described above. The problem is profits, and when you start adding in much higher healthcare premiums and higher labor costs, what is there left to add with these other benefits? I am speaking for small businesses, such as a small sub shop, beauty parlors, coffee shops, and other main street family businesses.Consumers are very savvy shoppers, and inflation is quite low in our industry, as raising prices is not a good thing to do. How can these retailers give paid family leave, along with child care, all while trying to maintain a bottom line in an ultra competitive environment? If they are forced to do this by government mandates, than you will have even more small business failures.I'm sure my thoughts are not popular, but I'm just being real, since I live in the small business world and also in a community that is struggling, but this is the reality of many small businesses today. For those robust industries, with growth and great bottom lines, I say absolutely go for it, and for those who cannot provide this, than so be it. The market for employees will dictate where they can and will work, providing they have the right skills to be in companies who can add this to their benefit plans.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Will Amazon drive-up grocery stores disrupt food retailing?

    This idea will probably happen. But a huge success? Probably not. I wouldn't drive to a pickup location and go home not knowing if my pack of ground round is the right size or knowing just how fresh it is and, for that matter, that's true of any perishable product. I have checked Amazon's grocery pricing and, for the most part, there is nothing that stands out price-wise. But again, the convenience factor, especially for some staples, might do well. With smaller-format food stores and local dollar stores popping up everywhere, it is a battleground for business. If Amazon can provide this service in the inner cities, where they have walk-up and bike traffic, it could do well. We will see.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2016

    What can retailers do to find and hire amazing people?

    Living in a small town has it plus and minuses. One of the good things is that I can find some very good employees from our area, as you get to know most of the families that live near you. My basic requirements for employees are a couple of things. Number one, can you show up on time? Number two, you must be able to be extremely friendly to the customers. Number three, honesty, which is something that all of us want. For the most part we have done well, with some bad experiences along the way.My help will come to me and offer up someone they know who might fit the bill in our store for a position and it has helped many times over the years. I also have gone to the high schools to help for Reality Days, and ended up finding some great young kids who have worked out quite well.I know there are many other ways, and it can get more complicated as the size and scope of the business has different needs, but my basic requirements work for me. Training is something that we always have do do better at, and how can you expect results without showing someone how to do the job the right way? It is important to lead by example.I stress customer service big time, as there is no excuse for rudeness or general lack of paying attention to the needs of the customer, which I won't put up with. That is my simple take on this, and hiring can be a real pain for someone in a highly technical business, but I wish you all well in finding the right person.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2016

    Will a blog help Publix make social connections with customers?

    This is actually an extension of their Facebook page and if kept fresh along with interesting blurbs then it will do well, as Publix already dominates in Florida. I use Facebook all the time and post videos, which also go on YouTube, and many photos of all our new items. Social media done right is very effective, and it has helped us quite a bit in communicating with our customers.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2016

    Will other brands follow Birkenstock in cutting off Amazon?

    Every year I see more and more discussions about this dilemma, and all I can say is welcome to my world. Now you are seeing how the internet giant Amazon can influence price and turn a high-end product into another commodity, and they have every right to do this because the internet is the wild, wild west of retailing and it is largely unregulated.We as independent retailers have been fighting the below-cost selling of food for over a generation and, to this day, it has put many local stores out of business and there will be more to follow. The 800-pound gorilla, whether it is Walmart, Costco or Amazon, can control the conversation on what they buy and how much they are willing to pay, which has hurt not only food stores but appliance, furniture, computer and even travel agencies, all for the sake of rock bottom prices. Taking your product out of Amazon may solve the problem in the short-term but they are not going away and will find another partner in the high-end category, and push their product as soon as you're gone.Is nothing sacred anymore? No, and the genie is out of the bottle, so as a retailer you must be prepared to deal with how your pricing strategy stays competitive. The days of 8 to 10 percent bottom line gross profits will shrink in the future for sure, so make your adjustments now and focus on the creation of new and exciting products that can add to your bottom lines.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2016

    Does Nordstrom’s growth depend on Nordstrom Rack?

    Just a simple question here for our readers. Since we are all consumers, would you rather pay full price or a discounted price for clothes, shoes, food, cars, or for that matter anything you are looking to buy? The answer is DISCOUNTS, and upscale super high-end stores are starting to move more and more into the discount format, as they really don't have a choice today. I'm sure others may disagree, but look at what we are dealing with, as consumers are trained to wait for the super deals. This trend will continue for as long as I'm alive.Can you win consumers over on your high-end stores, and command full price? Yes, but that market is shrinking, and finding ways to provide discounts is what we all are looking for. If you are unwilling to provide a value along with great service, there is a good chance someone nearby or online will. Whole Foods now has 365, and other stores are offering lower price formats every day, including online. So it is vital to stay sharp on your pricing or risk becoming a ghost town, as consumers' shopping habits have changed, and they aren't going to give up the discounts anytime soon.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Will selling in fewer stores help Coach sell more handbags?

    Thanks Bob, as you said what I was going to write. Simply put, outside of elitist celebrities, and ultra rich folks at a party in the Hamptons, these high-end purse companies are struggling for growth and profits that they were once used to. Not any more, as the newer generation of online, showrooming, app-loving, maniacal discount shoppers want DEALS, in everything they purchase. Coach can not escape or change how people shop today, and the consumers are not going to give up the discount search for high-end goods anytime soon, so happy hunting everyone, for that next big thing you can buy at a great deal.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    The ‘McDonald’s of the Future’ leans fast-casual

    I think McDonald's is trying to become more mainstream, and for some, it will be well received. My problem, as well as many of my friends, is that their food simply isn't very good, or healthy, and the menu is limited. If I want a great burger, this isn't the place as other chains have upped the ante with much better burgers, and yes I'm willing to pay more for something I will enjoy eating.Aside from my generation, McDonald's is heading in the right direction, as they have been pushed into making their food with healthier ingredients. The kiosks are going to trim down their labor factor, as the $15 hour group will not stop until they get what they want. The future of fast food is not as bright as it once was, but McDonald's is trying to keep their core audience, and this is a good start for them.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2016

    Russell Athletic champions high school underdogs

    I love this ad, as rooting for the underdog is something I enjoy seeing, and it invokes the hard work ethic needed to succeed in all of us. How many times have you seen utter failure, when you thought a team was going to win and they end up losing in the last second? Or a golfer triple bogeying the last hole of a major championship, and a couple years later finding the strength to come back and win it all? This is who we are deep inside our souls, as we celebrate victory after many years of frustration. Bear in mind I'm a Cleveland sports fan (Go Cavs) so I know about this sort of stuff. Great ad, and hopefully it will help sell some gear for Russell Athletic. Thanks for sharing this.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2016

    Will Wegmans take Publix on in Florida?

    I have spent time in Publix during my trips to Florida (and my wife still doesn't understand why I spend an hour in a supermarket when I'm on vacation, but that is another story). My take is that Publix has the strong loyalty in the south and Wegmans has the strong loyalty up north. Which store is better in my opinion? I think Wegmans has a world-class facility and perishables are simply amazing from produce to bakery. Publix is not quite as impressive, which may sway customers to switch. However Publix employees are top-notch just like Wegmans, and great customer service at both location is about the same. Wegmans wins on layout and perishables and Publix wins on the long-term relationships they have earned over the years in Florida. These two stores are both top-notch and both will make money wherever they go, so good luck on the battle. In a price war, the consumer always wins.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2016

    Is online a bigger threat to independent merchants than big boxes?

    The answer simply is yes, and this trend will be difficult to change as independent stores are at a disadvantage versus online. Consumers demand low prices no matter who is selling the product, and local merchants are having a difficult time keeping up with the online explosion of goods and services. I talk to different retailers who are struggling for survival and it hits small towns and Main Street very hard. You can buy anything online with the click of the button, and unless independents can give them a compelling reason to shop there, failure is inevitable.Outside of high-income areas that have beautiful main streets and are bustling with coffee shops and local foodie restaurants, consumers are staying away. Yes there are exceptions to be found everywhere. All my years in business have helped me realize that standing pat is a guarantee for failure. Taking the initiative to create a great social media platform did not happen overnight, but we are now fully engaged with our customers and keeping it fresh daily. We make sure we respond to online questions on orders. It is critical. If we don't, it simply will not work. I wish I could give some of my fellow retailers a magic pill that makes them instantly aware of how they can make their businesses better, but it is up to them to find the initiative to change for the newer generation of shoppers who want to use online services. I'm grateful we are doing this, because doing nothing is not the way of the future.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    Has Nordstrom lost its customer experience edge?

    Nordstrom is in the same boat as all retailers today, with brick-and-mortar stores losing sales and online growing. Solutions to the problem are definitely going to hurt their bottom line for quite some time, so here is what I think they need to do.
    1. Consolidate their store count and close the over-saturated stores in cities that are competing with one another.
    2. They will either have to layoff under-performing sales associates or find a spot for them in procurement at their online centers.
    3. The remaining employees should be re-trained to understand how to sell to the modern younger consumers, which will not be easy, but it is necessary to reach out and embrace the new wave of potential shoppers.
    4. Look at assortment and pricing policy, as high ticket items are becoming dinosaurs. Online has gone after that market with lower prices, so they must take a hard look at their pricing policy or risk losing more and more customers to the internet.
    This strategy goes for all high-end retailers, and to me no one is immune from the expectations of lower prices plus top notch service, which is a hard pill to swallow as the associates who once made good money on commissions will likely see their paychecks drop.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    Is it time for marketers to embrace radical transparency?

    This another marketing tool to gain favor with consumers by supposedly being totally up front with their operations. What's next, a complete financial statement of your business, right down to the toilet paper expenses? Consumers want deals, plain and simple, and if you are gouging on price you will fail. For me it is pretty simple. Customers don't care that you have high costs of labor or materials, as they want stuff for as low as they can get, which is why Walmart and Aldi are so successful -- because they have low prices. Marketing takes on all forms these days, from simple social media to high flying acrobatic schemes involving any number of crazy promotions. Getting people into your stores is getting harder and harder these days and you will see more and more crazy promotions and social media platform programs that are designed to win favor with their audience. Once you get them into the store, then the best service and price combo will always win.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2016

    Will Starbucks prosper or slide as CEO changes focus?

    I understand why he is pursuing other high-end niche ventures, since there are regular Starbucks on every corner of every city I have been in. The growth for more "regular" stores is slowing and this new venture is the future of growth and profitability, as there are more local brew houses in cities taking dead aim at Starbucks, and their prices are better. We have discussed the Princi bakery issue a few weeks back, so if they can make this work then it can add profits to the bottom line. Starbucks, like Amazon, is not afraid to fail, so I will be watching.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2016

    Sears Holdings says Kmart is being transformed, not closing doors

    Kmart lost the battle years ago, and the stores I have been in are in bad shape. Our local Super Kmart is closing this week and there's not a whimper from the community, as Walmart and Aldi absorbed the customers quickly. There will be more closings of giant retail stores in the future as online sales continue to increase while brick-and-mortar stores are declining, so it is just a matter of time. Change has its winners and losers, and Kmart is not winning.

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