Road to success: The Jonluca difference
“It all started in 2010 with two guys, a few chest freezers, and a climate-controlled delivery van,” says Casey Eleusiniotis, President of Jonluca Enterprises.
Casey’s father, Angelo, came up with the idea for the business and helped fund the start-up. “I had been in the food distribution industry for more than 30 years and saw an untapped opportunity in cold chain operations,” explains Angelo. “It was a bit of a risk, but I knew Casey could make a go of it.”
Initially, the business began as an organic ice cream distributor run by Casey and his younger brother. “We started out by cold-calling independent retailers,” recalls Casey. “Customers began signing on and we visited them every week.” The business began to grow through word of mouth, and soon customers asked them to handle the rest of their cold products.
In April 2011, the fledgling business took on space in a warehouse and officially entered the refrigerated food distribution industry. “We had a schedule – deliveries, orders, pick-ups – and we continued to build and build,” says Casey. And even though Casey’s younger brother left the business to pursue his RMT designation, Jonluca Enterprises continued to thrive.
Today, Jonluca is a full-service distributor focused on wholesome food, local sourcing, sustainability, traceability, and animal welfare. The company has achieved double digit growth year-over-year, recently making the list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies. Jonluca now employs almost 70 people, all of whom share a love of food and a commitment to the values of service and care. Jonluca also partners with vendors who share their ideology on sustainability and emphasis on local products.
As President of Jonluca, Casey focuses his efforts on strategic growth by building relationships with brokers, vendors, and retailers. His uncle George, who joined the business in 2012, manages logistics and his father Angelo, who came aboard in 2015, runs the warehouse and operations. In 2016 a fourth shareholder, Andrea Ramlogan, joined the team. As VP Business Development, she manages the sales team with some oversight of finance. “Andrea is a family member,” says Angelo. “Just not by blood.” Together, they are a powerhouse team, and although they may disagree from time to time, they’ve managed to separate business from personal life. “Respect underlies everything we do. At the end of the week, it’s important for us to be able to enjoy a family dinner together.”
The steady growth continues. This year, Jonluca Enterprises will move from their 29,000 square foot climate-controlled facility with 3 loading docks to an 80,000 square-foot facility with 19 docks. “It’s been a great ride, and we’ve only just begun,” says Casey. He credits the success of Jonluca to a combination of keeping up with consumer trends, providing excellent customer service, and carving out a true niche with a depth and breadth of expertise. “We decided very early on to specialize exclusively in the cold chain for health foods and organics. Customers know that if they have questions, we will find the answers.”
Jonluca now offers a wide selection of organic milk products, healthy snack products, and plant-based ready-to-go meal substitutes from well-known names like Kawartha Dairy and Happy Planet and smaller, lesser-known manufacturers that have all been carefully vetted for quality. “We have a twice-a-week delivery model with 24-hour turnaround times,” explains Casey. “Thirty years ago, organic food was very expensive and inaccessible to most people. We’re helping to change that.”
Jonluca’s customer base is wide-ranging, including independent retailers like Big Carrot, Rowe Farm, TNT, and FarmBoy, and mass retail like Sobey’s, Loblaws, and Metro. Although the majority of the customer base is in Ontario, they do have a few customers in Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces. “There is a huge need for access to healthy and organic products in other areas of the country,” says Casey. “Our plans for the future definitely include expansion outside of Ontario, but we want to be strategic and purposeful about it by replicating the services and business model that has worked so well in Ontario.”
Jonluca is a company that fundamentally cares – about its people, suppliers, and customers. As Casey’s father, Angelo, points out: “We don’t want to jump into opportunities that are short-sighted. We’re here to stand the test of time.” And how do they plan on doing that? “By making sure we do the right things for the right reasons. Our original mission of making wholesome foods more accessible has never changed.”
For more information on Jonluca Enterprises, check out their website at www.jonluca.ca.