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: 01/18/2017

    Is there a retail marketing opportunity in unwanted gifts?

    Hey I'll pay 10 cents on the dollar for this stuff and resell it for 75 percent off, and double my money. Other than that forget it.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2017

    Sir Richard Branson at NRF: Are retailers looking outside the box?

    Anyone can think outside the box, but it still takes transforming the crazy idea into reality, and that is the challenge. Small businesses have many challenges, and being truly innovative is something my dad thankfully encouraged in me many years ago.Creating a brand today is vital for any of us, and it can be a combination of several things that make up who you are as a business, which is okay. Richard Branson and Amazon have a ton of capital to create these alternative revenue streams, where as small businesses do not. This should not discourage anyone, but you need to focus on enhancing the qualities that consumers keep coming to your store for, and make them better, and at times even 22nd century amazing which will put you in the category of the titans in business today.I have a lot of fight and tons of new ideas that I haven't even thought of yet, and putting them into a workable product is what keeps me driven to succeed. Win or lose, you must take the attitude that you could be the next big thing by making something the customers can not get anywhere else, and I wish all my small business friends success in their endeavors.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2017

    NRF and 21 retailers launch career training initiative

    I have always believed that training employees is very important, and if this program makes incoming workers more informed and knowledgeable, that is a good thing. For the retailers that are trying to merge e-commerce into their store platforms it is going to be more intensive training, as a Macy's employee must be able to handle in-store and online transactions for the same customer, which will require some excellent tech skills. Yes, retail is changing at the speed of sound, and the days of providing a simple transaction in these stores will not be sufficient as the consumers are demanding not only great service but super-fast free delivery for the items they can not find inside the store, and it better be handled smoothly, or the retailer risks losing sales across the channel both in-store and online. My job is to make sure my employees are fully engaged in the selling process everywhere inside my four walls, as it is my only chance to increase revenue with the exception of catering deliveries. Either way, the level you can increase the skills of your employees will pay benefits, so make sure you are providing the right tools to fit your store.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    How will Walgreens benefit from its FedEx drop-off/pickup deal?

    It should help both businesses out and FedEx will save money consolidating their deliveries, especially in rural areas where the miles add up. Walgreens will do more business easily and the consumer also wins, as they have an easy drop-off place to ship packages.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    How can the retail job market survive the AI revolution?

    If $15 hour minimum becomes reality this will accelerate the AI scenario, as small businesses simply can not survive without technology taking over certain tasks. In a perfect world, we would be able to absorb more mandates such as $15 hour minimums, paid sick leave, paid maternal leave for both father and mother and free paid health care by the employer and still manage to have a healthy bottom line. The reality is, any one of these new mandates will simply kill off more small businesses and the big box retailers, along with giant e-commerce sites, will survive long enough to grow their businesses even more as we go under.Some here may disagree, but until you have to make a payroll in this current environment and are facing huge additional expenses with almost zero growth, it doesn't look good for small business. Technology will help for sure and, unfortunately, more workers will simply not find the starting jobs needed to improve their skills, which puts a burden on unemployment rolls.Any thoughts? As I simply can not see a silver lining for those who are struggling to stay in business today, and this is before these new laws kick in. I hope I'm dead wrong and, either way, happy New Year.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    Amazon considers floating warehouses

    Got to hand it to Amazon as they continue to dominate the media. This is absurd, but then again so are a lot of ideas that never make the media. But Amazon throws up something crazy and it is page one business news. Who wouldn't want that kind of brand recognition? All of us can learn from this, and Amazon is the modern version of the carnival barker. I'm the sure the FAA won't mind a million ton warehouse floating around the skies, and drones zapping in and out of there every five seconds, creating havoc with our domestic air travel.This is a great advertising segue right after the new Star Wars release, but it's not going to happen.
  • Posted on: 12/29/2016

    Will online grocery gain traction in 2017?

    For me, who does this everyday, online grocery can be good for staples, as a can of Del Monte corn is the same anywhere you go. However consumers are much more picky about their perishables and simply don't trust e-commerce to deliver the custom meats and deli/bakery products that they can get locally. Produce would fall into that category as well.If I wanted to get into perishable delivery, above and beyond my catering drop off, it would take a significant investment to do so. A special multi-temperature van for starters, and the ability to fill orders in a time frame that would allow my meat room to prepare the product for the next day, as a one-to-two hour window would be almost impossible to do properly.Eventually this will grow, as some well-financed stores will do this right and hook up with a third-party delivery service that is equipped properly to handle it, with a separate charge for delivery. I could be wrong, but getting some frozen pre-packed steak will not satisfy the needs of consumers, as they want fresh custom-cut product that meets their needs and not something that the retailers want to push for their own convenience.It will grow once this is worked out, especially in densely-populated areas where a high quality store or chain of stores can steal away a lot of market share if they can pull this off properly. I wish I was 35 again, as it would be fun doing this as a ground floor opportunity. Happy New Year everyone.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2016

    Did social media incite the post-Christmas mall melees?

    Social media is a place where good and bad things can happen, and this one is just horrible. My question is pretty simple: where are the parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, who should know where the hell these kids are? Malls and retail stores are targets for this stuff (as if business wasn't tough enough already) and I don't see this problem going away, as the crowds are emboldened to do whatever they want. I just hope everyone stays safe.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2016

    Should department stores talk less about Millennials and more about ‘heavy spenders’?

    Heavy spenders at one time were the same folks who walked into your store one day and were greeted with a smile. They had all of their needs taken care of in a manner much better than the competitor's store they shopped in as well. Guess what happened? Next thing you knew, they became one of your heavy spenders. I know this is almost too simple, but believe me, if you want a heavy spender then you must treat them extremely well and exceed their expectations on the product you are selling and, more importantly, the service you provide, and you will have that heavy spender for life.Yes I understand online is different, but how you handle an online order can make or break a future heavy spender as well, just look at Amazon. Merry Christmas everyone.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2016

    Will a higher minimum wage translate to better service levels?

    Hi Doug. For me it isn't about the sour grapes, rather it is about the mandates that act as if small business is supposed to pay much higher starting wages, along with a host of other mandates, that will leave us with little or worse, negative profits at the end of the year.I have run the numbers on $12 hour minimum, and called many store owners on their thoughts. Results of this unscientific survey were not good, and many said it could put them into zero profitability or worse. The main reason is not the $12 hour, but the spiraling effect of your higher paid people who are going to demand increases to keep that separation between the new minimum, and what they now expect. That's the profit killer.Government never uses common sense, and this is the most burdensome problem for all of us. Add in more payroll, and fica taxes, and there will be suffering in the small business community for sure. I will no longer hire any young kids at these wages, as senior citizens will be looking for work, and would gladly take the $12 hour to supplement their incomes, and I will hire them instead, as they have actual work experience.Do I sound old, and bitter? I am not. Finding ways to stay profitable are already difficult, with razor thin margins as they are now in my industry. You simply cannot raise prices to off set this, as the big box stores will wait it out and see some store closures, before they increase their prices, which they will.Let's see what our new leaders think about this, and hopefully we can make changes that actually help business, not cripple them.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2016

    Will a higher minimum wage translate to better service levels?

    The answer is pretty simple, which is NO. We can discuss all we want what the minimum wage should be, and say that retailers need to provide a living wage, unpaid leave, safe zones and bonuses, but in the end there are only so many top quality employees in every company, and they always rise to the top.If all of these benefits are mandated to provide for all your employees, there will be job losses, and a strain on many small businesses that simply can not stay in business. The reasons for this are obvious -- a stagnating economy where growth is about zero, healthcare costs, e-commerce and a throng of unskilled employees who also lack a work ethic.You can mandate all of these wonderful perks, but there will always be employees who won't bust their butt for $30 hour and that is simply the truth.Customer service is a problem everywhere, it is going to get worse for some stores that can not find the right workers to fill the positions needed to actually improve service, because they have moved on to bigger things. I specifically hire workers that can smile and engage with my customers, but if I have to start them at $15 an hour, even I will have to cut hours in order to stay in business, as there is simply a bad economy in my area.Just staying in business will become a huge challenge for many, and the big boys along with e-commerce will take over. I hope I am wrong, but we'll see how this all shakes out.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2016

    Did retailers doom their holidays with deep discounts?

    Does anyone reading this think that most retailers want to discount their products to the point that profits are next to impossible to come by? This topic comes up every year and, as someone who owns a retail supermarket, it is important to offer the right mix of staples near cost and to be able to promote the extras, such as our deli/bakery homemade goodies, dry-aged prime ribs and special cuts of meats that the big box stores can not even dream of doing.You must discount the staple goods or nothing will sell -- period. I am not going to win over any customers by trying to sell Philadelphia cream cheese and all the other top-demand items at regular price. It is up to me to buy it right and sell it right at margins my father never had to in his day. For many people, selling the same thing creates an impossible situation and it is only going to get worse.So what do we do? Simply create products the big box retailers are not selling and get out on the floor to talk to everybody about what you do differently, and good things will happen. I ran a holiday tasting festival two years back that featured every signature food from our bakery and deli a week before the Thanksgiving holiday. It was an expensive venture to say the least, but two years later we are getting orders for the both holidays better than ever, and we just had an outstanding meat sale that shattered all records as well.Think long-term and give your customers a reason to come back by offering incredibly fresh foods that they simply can not resist. I do this in a small, poor county. Imagine what others can do where a much better economy exists. No one is going to feel sorry for you if you can not succeed, but there is money to be made if and only if you start to produce or sell products that the customers simply can not find in the larger stores. That is your salvation for success.You don't take percentages to the bank, you take profit dollars. That was said to me 40 years ago, so go out and earn your business by offering the right products at the right price.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2016

    Why are retail employees going around company systems?

    This has been going on forever. Employees will always have some beefs about their job, and the way they speak to each other has evolved to online, when years back it was a bar stool or a telephone. Bottom line is that we as owners of a business must address these issues, and yes we have to make a stand on our employees trying to circumvent our way of doing things.I have the occasional meetings with my department folks and I get an earful on some employees who simply do not want to work well with others, and we deal with it one-on-one.Engage often with your staff, work beside them when they are short of help, and always allow them to discuss work-related issues, as you may learn something.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2016

    Does Costco need to follow a different path online?

    There are many contributors on here who think that Costco needs to move into e-commerce much more aggressively, and I understand their thoughts on this. However, I admire Costco's stance on how they want to do business and, speaking as a brick-and-mortar guy myself, not everybody wants or needs to do e-commerce to stay in business.Costco understands the cost of doing BOPIS, and have stated it is something they choose not to do for several reasons. It costs money to do this and it takes away consumers from going in and buying stuff they didn't plan on getting, and they would have to alter the physical facility to make this happen, which again costs a lot of money.The push for e-commerce to be the only way to continue on in retail is overstated somewhat, and I understand why some on our panel feel so strongly about doing both. The retail stores of the future will have to be very creative in building a very high-tech modern store that makes all forms of commerce available to all of their customers, and Amazon is setting the bar high with their concept. So yes I agree that as we move forward, things will evolve into a seamless transaction without traditional checkouts and with as few employees as possible to keep costs down -- and so be it. There will always be a need for the human touch for some customers that want the relationship with a real person, be it the owner or a top notch employee that will happily guide them through the sale. And yes they will always come back, as it is why we have choices where we want to shop.Kudos to Costco for doing it their way without listening to Wall Street talking heads who think otherwise.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2016

    Will the tech behind Amazon Go redefine convenience at retail?

    This is another very cool concept, but I have some questions. Watching the video made it seem so easy, and if you change your mind and do not put the item back exactly where it should be, than you will be charged for it. What about those pesky hackers, who will find a way to get you into the store, and with a push of the button, they walk out with a ton of stuff for free, as they figured out how to bypass the checkout on their phone? Maybe I'm wrong, but I see this happening more frequently with technology, and hopefully Amazon has a very secure system to prevent this.One more thing ... what about pricing of the food? Is it going to be on the Whole Foods level, or more in line with conventional supermarket pricing, as yes, price is still a factor, if you want repeat sales for most folks. If in fact the pricing is higher, it had better be super fresh and delicious, or risk a one and done. I'm sure these stores will all be in high income areas, and they will be well received.All we need is a replicator from Star Trek, and we'll never have to leave the house.

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