Case Study

Meeting School and Corporate Culinary Needs

September 25, 2023
Student with lunch tray getting lunch from the chef

Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Brock & Company is a food service management company that works with businesses and schools, particularly private academies from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

In 2018, the company put out a request for proposals for a “broadliner,” or a distributor that offers a one-stop shop for food products. It also looked at the costs and benefits of working with different group purchasing organizations (GPO). Brock & Company decided to partner with Provista.

Contributing factors included Provista’s competitively priced contracts and its close relationship with the large food service distributor US Foods. 

“It was absolutely a financially-driven decision,” says Brian Heiss, C.P.M., vice president of Purchasing for the company. “By working with Provista and US Foods, we got good pricing.”
Like many food service companies, Brock & Company faced significant challenges that can be pinned on the pandemic in addition to other issues:

  • Experiencing a major shift in its customer base and customer expectations
  • Procuring cost-efficient and effective food packaging
  • Leveraging new opportunities with fewer internal resources

Prior to the pandemic, Brock & Company’s business consisted of about 70% corporate dining and 30% school business. Then COVID-19 shut down corporate dining, and much of that business still hasn’t returned. This prompted Brock & Company to pursue more business with schools, and even that vertical experienced significant changes.

“Sales are still down from 2019, which was probably our peak,” Heiss explains. “From an operational standpoint, schools that did remain open had different requirements, so we had to change a lot of things. Some schools had classroom deliveries where we’d make food and bring it to the classrooms.

In addition, the company implemented point of sales systems that let parents pre-order meals for their students. This change caused a major operational shift because the company and schools had a predetermined budget to feed students. Pre-ordered and delivered meals typically cost more. For example, meals delivered to classrooms required food containers, which added a cost.

“We started to look for reusable to-go containers. We bought some that were washable for up to 50 uses, but people didn’t like the idea of used to-go containers,” Heiss says. “It seemed like no one wanted to walk through an area with open food. We needed clamshell or some type of packaging to cover the food, and it gets expensive.”  

The pandemic created new demand for specific items, like hand sanitizer, that suddenly became scarce. This prompted customers to turn to Brock & Company for products they had never requested before.
“It was hard to find hand sanitizers. Schools needed them and wanted us to get them,” Heiss says. “We try to be a problem solver and a good partner for clients. We want them to rely on us to solve their problems. We spent a lot of time working on a model on how to be a better supplier with all those safety concerns in mind.” 

Provista’s vast range of contracts from food to beyond the plate helps support Brock & Company’s model. The contracts, like those from Provista, meet the company’s changing needs, including demand for to-go food.

“We use Provista especially for its distribution contract with US Foods. We use about 70% of food through US Foods, and we want to see it go over 80%,” Heiss notes. “We mostly use the same types of foods as before the pandemic, but how we prepare them is different. We need a portfolio that supports food that can be delivered.”

Competitively priced food contracts are essential to Brock & Company’s ability to win and keep contracts from schools and corporations.

“Before Provista, we had 40 or 50 direct agreements with vendors per quarter to get rebates or off-invoice pricing. We got rebates instead of good upfront pricing, and we’d have to bill for the rebates and chase the money down, which was an administrative nightmare,” Heiss explains. “Now, with Provista, we get the best upfront  pricing across the board. It’s competitive invoice pricing, and we’re not collecting from 40 or 50 people—it’s just one. It’s made the process much simpler.”

He also likes that Provista conducts price audits on a continual basis to ensure competitive prices and accurate billing. “I’m encouraged by Provista providing clear, open visibility into contracts and is accountable for pricing at a big-picture level,” Heiss says.  

““Provista watches out for us to ensure we pay the correct price. The program has a lot of incentives, and they add up.” –Brian Heiss, VP of Purchasing, Brock & Company”


Brock & Company is seeking to streamline products across clients and simplify the product substitution process. It’s now using a master list management program to encourage standardization of products and optimize contract utilization.
With Provista analytic reports, Brock & Company can review the top 100 items it uses. It leverages that information to create a hierarchy of products to buy, then strives to get as much consistency as possible by ensuring those items are all aligned to quality products on contract. The company also finds value in Provista’s terms and conditions for those products.

“The details of our deals are good. Provista watches out for us to ensure we pay the correct price. The program has a lot of incentives, and they add up,” Heiss says. “In our business, we really sell customization. No two of our accounts are the same. We have incentives for managers for their contract spend in relation to their overall spend, and each one has their own goal.”

Provista is helping Brock & Company reach its goals and realize business benefits with:

  • Industry-leading prices on products
  • Full transparency and visibility into contracts and costs
  • Competitive contracts on food and beyond the plate.
  • Fresh produce available through supplier PRO*ACT

Heiss finds ongoing value being a Provista member, including having a seat on the GPO’s Hospitality Advisory Council. The council consists of food industry professionals who meet regularly to discuss trends, the contract process and food program development needs.
“The council is a good fit because I’m a different operator than others. From my perspective, I get to hear more about what’s going on in the industry,” he explains. “I get a better understanding of how food programs fit together.”

He connected with a council member who’s a sous vide expert. This is important because Heiss is considering different concepts for food preparation, including sous vide.

He’s also happy with his Provista partnership, noting that his primary Provista contact is responsive when resolving issues and discussing new opportunities. The primary benefit of being a Provisa member, not surprisingly, is the cost savings.

“The main value is the price, so we maximize spend,” Hiess points out. “The better upfront prices, the better for us.”


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