King Food Service stays in the family

June 28, 2011 15:14

Even with decades of growth and change, King Food Service remains very much a family business, reports with reference to QCBusiness Journal.

The Rock Island company is a distributor, broker and importer of seafood, poultry and beef for restaurant and institutional customers throughout the United States. It is located at 7810 42nd St. West.

This spring, King added three jobs to expand its sales and management team.

The additions are Kelly McDonald, director of marketing: Ralph Laing, protein specialist; and Lucas Goodson, warehouse manager. Matt Cutkomp also was promoted to the position of senior protein specialist and president of King's distribution division.

His brother, Mike Cutkomp, will continue as chairman, chief financial officer and president of King's brokering and importing division. Rick White is King's general manager.

"This expansion increases our ability to provide our customers with expert advice on protein products and find values for them from the global marketplace," Matt Cutkomp said. "We can better help our customers navigate the difficult challenges they face as a result of inflation in protein product prices.

"There will be approximately 800 million consumers added to the middle class worldwide over the next 10 years, which will increase the stress placed on protein supplies and prices. Our customers need information and advice from a specialist on product and service solutions so they can continue to provide their guests a high quality and affordable dining experience."

King Food Service was started after World War II when Mike and Matt's grandparents, Margaret and King Cutkomp Sr., began providing farm-fresh eggs at a store at 5th Avenue and 12th Street in Rock Island. Margaret ran the retail operation and handled the books, while her husband managed the wholesale part of the business.

The company began providing more products to a larger distribution area in Illinois and Iowa. In the 1950s, King Cutkomp Jr., Mike and Matt's father, graduated from Rock Island High School and joined the family business in sales and purchasing, bringing in new items such as fish and seafood. He was involved in the business for 40 years before retiring in the late 1990s.

Mike came to the business in 1989 and worked in delivery, sales and purchasing before becoming president of the company. Matt, after serving four years in the Navy, also came on board.

The company has 16 employees.

"We ship 90,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds of food each week," Matt said. "We also carry fresh eggs and cheese."

Seafood varieties include swordfish, squid, fresh fish, salmon, tuna, cod and haddock. King Food Service has hundreds of local customers, including restaurants, casinos, volunteer clubs and institutions.

"We source products from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia," Matt Cutkomp said.

One customer who has been getting fresh products from King for decades is Johnnie's Meat Market, 1302 Washington St., Davenport. Owner Kim Dopler said to his recollection Johnnie's has done business with King since 1980. But the association could go back further.

"My dad first opened Johnnie's in 1952 in Rock Island," Dopler said. "Then he came over to Davenport on South Concord Street. Then, he moved to this location in 1980. So, he may have been doing business with King before. I just don't know.

"Fresh chicken, fresh chicken parts, fresh pond-raised catfish - those are our biggest items. The meat market is open five days a week and we get five deliveries from these folks each week. When you are talking fresh poultry and fish, that is really important. We love it that way. They really do try very hard to give us real fresh products."

McDonald said a key to King's success is keeping overhead to a minimum.

"We maintain a lower overhead in order to pass those savings on to our customers," he said. "We are working on slim margins, which goes to help the owners and operators and chefs in the area. We are able to deliver the highest-quality products at the lowest prices.

"We have trucks lined up here at 3, 4 in the morning, with fresh products daily. Then, they are shipped on delivery trucks the same day to the Quad-Cities and surrounding areas. .... Our delivery people take their jobs seriously. Our primary goals are to meet the needs of our customers."

Matt Cutkomp said flexibility is another big factor in the company's longevity.

"We are a protein specialist. As our customers' needs change, we follow along with those customers needs," he said. "For example, if we need to bring in a different type of pork chop (for a particular restaurant), whatever that entails, we will do it. The size of our company allows us to be flexible with customer needs."

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