Hard work, a lot of faith, and a supportive family and community are just a few things that make a business thrive. And when it comes to the story of S&L produce, they are no exception.
I met Lisa Palazzolo of S&L Produce through my wife years ago, and have enjoyed watching Lisa and her husband Mark, grow their business from a one-truck shop operating out of their home, to having multiple employees, trucks, and a huge warehouse.
Together, along with their family and the community, Lisa and Mark Palazzolo have found the support needed to sustain their business. -Not to mention Mark comes from three generations of food distribution “know-how” which gives S&L Produce an extra edge.
I’m excited to share the story of my friends and clients Lisa and Mark Palazzolo, owners of S&L Produce.
Food business is a family business
Mark Palazzolo was raised in the produce business; it’s safe to say that the industry runs thick in his blood as his family has been in the industry for three generations.
Mark was blessed to have spent many years working alongside his father learning the tricks of the trade that he would later use to establish S&L Produce Inc., “What Mark Palazzolo knows about his businesses’ industry you cannot get from a textbook!” his wife Lisa Palazzolo shared.
“When we started our business,” Lisa recalls, “ we bought a truck for $4,000 that had no power steering. I took orders through cold calling during the day and Mark cold-called and went to the market at night, loaded his orders and would then go out and deliver early in the morning. We did this day after day until we got to the point where Mark needed help with deliveries, and I needed assistance with customers. It was then we moved out of our basement office and built our now fully-operational warehouse and office.”
Lisa states that the one thing that keeps their business strong and profitable is the fact that they are constantly reminding themselves of where they started, and how far they have come, for which they are extremely grateful!
While they had a modest start, S&L Produce has grown to have four refrigerated delivery trucks, two vans, 12 employees and a new warehouse which they are about to expand. They are a full broad line distributor delivering anything from fresh produce, frozen products, meats, refrigerated products, dairy, eggs, spices, equipment and more.
Customer service par-to-none
The uniqueness of S&L Produce, Inc. can be seen in many areas of their operation. They take pride in being able to service their customers like no one else in the industry.
One example is their ability to accommodate their customers in ways their competition would rather not.
“Other food distributors do not react quickly to the needs of customers needing last minute items after their orders are delivered or placed. S&L Produce, Inc. understands this and we are able to assist our customer with that ‘extra’ delivery if need be. Whereas our competitors have to wait until their next ‘scheduled’ delivery for anything else,” explains Lisa.
S&L Produce Inc. employees work diligently to develop personal relationships with all their customers and go above and beyond to make them happy. Every relationship is important and the S&L team knows their customers on a first-name basis.
Growing in a supportive community
While Lisa and Mark have experience living in big cities, the 20 years they have spent here in Edwardsville have made a huge difference in the success of their business and they are proud to be supporting members within the community.
“Any time I go in town, you can bet I won’t be back without having had a conversation with someone I’ve come across while out. Whether catching up or being informed, conversations are always likely! When tragedies hit, it hits everybody.”
Lisa and Mark are involved in a number of benefits and fundraisers because they care deeply about their neighbors here in Edwardsville, “It’s a blessing to be able to help other people and to be able to call this wonderful community ‘home.’”