For the love of beef
A salesman’s job is easier if he likes what he sells.
Ask Patrick Ambrosio what his favorite cut of beef is. The reply is so quick, if you’re not looking him straight in the eye you’ll miss seeing them light up. “Ribeye. Grilled, pan-fired, anything that’s a ribeye. The next day, even, it’s still good.”
Make that, “if he loves what he sells.”
Patrick didn’t set out to be a meat manager, but right out of high school, he needed a job. After working his way up from the deli to meat wrapper, cutter and eventually, manager, the career looks good on him.
It’s 4 a.m. when the 32-year-old arrives at one of the newest Foodland locations in Kapolei, Hawaii. His eyes dart across the meat case looking for anything that’s not up to his standards. After he executes “pulls,” he files orders, makes grinds and eventually, cuts.
“It’s like a gamble when you’re ordering. You don’t want to buy too much or too little,” he says, noting a blade in his hand came naturally, but the biggest learning curve was, “merchandising the meat and not wasting anything.” The balance took more study.
He knows what ad features are coming up, watches prices and tries to manage all he can control. He can’t predict challenges like drought on the mainland or unexpected shipping delays.
“At least if there’s something out of our control, like the oceans are real rough and the shipment can’t come in, there’s always a backup plan,” he says. “If we don’t have that particular product, we’ll sub it for something even better.”
That’s because Foodland wants to keep shoppers happy.
“We captured a lot of customers going to Certified Angus Beef ®,” Patrick says, remembering when they first partnered with the brand nearly a decade ago. “It’s not hard to sell high-quality beef.”
Some of the most popular cuts on the island include thin-sliced short ribs, for making the Korean-style kalbi, and steaks.
“Because it’s Hawaii—it’s always nice over here, so everybody’s always grilling,” Patrick says.
Indeed, during my March visit, it was pretty much an even 80 degrees and sunny the whole trip.
But as I stepped into the cooler, I realized it takes some dedication to walk in out of the sunshine, throw on a white jacket over a long-sleeved shirt and settle in with one goal: help the customer make the best meal they can.
But that’s what Patrick and his team do. Any given day there’s three to four of them, cutting and refilling, answering questions for regulars or for tourists that stop in. They take the job seriously.
If Patrick’s enthusiasm is any indication, they love it.
May your bottom line be filled with black ink (because people like Patrick are counting on you to be successful),
PS–Read about fellow meat cutter Thomas Tangaro, who says he’ll “retire on” CAB, in yesterday’s post.