FSM FEATURE: H&M Wagner: The Times They Are A-Changing

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H & M Wagner: The Times They Are A-Changing

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It’s been over a half century ago since Harry and May Wagner established a small business, delivering poultry and eggs house-to-house throughout Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, Md. Over time, the vision grew, and the next generation of the Wagner family helped to develop the young business into an independent foodservice dealer. H&M Wagner & Sons, Inc. has since grown to become a full line distributor delivering goods throughout Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia, Southern Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Charlestown, West Virginia.

Foodservice Monthly has noticed recent change in the company under president George Wagner. It’s always been a customer-driven organization. It only takes a visit to the showroom in Glen Burnie to witness the bond with its customers and nearly 200 employees … as folks pick up supplies, look around, tell stories … enjoy a cup of coffee.

And yes, they are a member of the UniPro Foodservice purchasing group, where Wagner has been able to strengthen its purchasing power to over $35 billion and are now members of the largest buying group in the United States.

But this is 2012 … and the Wagner experience is expanding its traditions to meet the needs of the modern customer. They recently introduced its 2012 fleet of delivery trucks to the company’s staff and press at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie. The 18 leased trucks in a deal made through Idealease of Maryland with refrigeration/freezer assistance from Thermo King. 

Operations manager Jack Helms told Foodservice Monthly that with the modern technologies required to service today’s truck, that a lease arrangement made the most sense from a maintenance standpoint. The new truck bodies are customized to take care of the current mix of dry, frozen and refrigeration business, but the design can be changed as the business changes for each of the routes it serves.

Then last month we reported that H & M Wagner announced that it has entered into an agreement with the Annapolis Produce Company, located in Annapolis, Md. The agreement considers all phases of the current day-to-day operations of the company.

According to Wagner, this agreement will afford its customer base a tremendous opportunity to increase efficiencies in their purchasing process. H & M Wagner offers more than 9,000 different products at its warehouse in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The move adds to the depth of the sales team at Wagner as Price Koch, Cheryl Holman, Jay Abbott, Ted Hyman and Anita Stinger joined the team … and now Wagner has a produce specialist.

Foodservice Monthly wanted to learn more and met with executives Sal Furno, Cindy Barnes and Dennis Barry at the Glen Burnie facility. The changes are ongoing and extensive.

  • The modern fleet of trucks that was introduced in September is already being expanded.
  • The facility is adapting to growth with a 49,000 cubic foot add on for multi-temp, zone-controlled storage to insure the integrity of the products
  • Efficiencies are being increased with the addition of a Voice Pick System … fewer mistakes equals dollars and happier customers.
  • To improve the selection process, they are adding a “truck builder” system that builds pallets in order to make the delivery process more efficient
  • A new cafeteria has proved to be a hit with the Wagner team. 

More than capital investment, Wagner has jumped into the social media arena to reach the modern customer that uses its smartphones, tablets and computers as their primary means of communication. You can find Wagner on Facebook ( and yes, there is a blog: The Wagner Way at

This is the 2012 H&M Wagner & Sons … and the times, they are a-changin’ but what hasn’t changed is the personal commitment of the Wagner team. As I was leaving I overheard Cindy mention that she and Sal had been with Wagner 28 and 32 years. Something must be going right.

See H&M Wagner at the Ocean City Spring Trade Expo … March 4 and 5 at booths 604-607. This year, they will also be sponsoring the third annual Spring Food and Beverage Festival, immediately following the trade show on March 4. The festival will be held at Seacrets Night Club from 5 to 9 p.m.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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