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No. 26: Imperial Dade: Jersey City food service and janitorial supply business is eager to add on customers — and other companies

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After decades of existing as a small business following its founding in New York’s Bronx borough in 1935, the company known today as Imperial Dade has recently expanded in many ways — and in many directions, with branches as far south as Puerto Rico and as north as Boston.

Even in its niche as distributors of disposable food service and janitorial supplies, the now Jersey City-based company’s industry is as competitive as any. That means Imperial Dade CEO Robert Tillis and his son, company President Jason Tillis, don’t let any good opportunity go to waste.

Since the father-son leadership team assumed their roles in 2007, the company has made 11 acquisitions, including one announced just last month. So, it’s no surprise the company suddenly leaped nearly 20 positions from its place last year to the 26th-largest privately-owned company on NJBIZ’s latest list.

To stand out in its industry, Robert Tillis said the company has paired growth with sound strategy for customers:

“When there’s a restaurant or supermarket or cleaning contractor and they need their supplies, even though someone else may have those supplies in a more competitive price at any given time, if they don’t get it to them when they need it, the price becomes irrelevant. Our model is that it’s the right price, at the right place, at the right time.”

Jason Tillis and his father have been keen opportunists when it comes to acquiring customers as well as other companies. He expects that to continue.

“Whether it’s technology, infrastructure or service, we just want to expand our capabilities to allow our customers to run their businesses better,” he said. “And, even though we now have the infrastructure of a large corporation, we like to think of ourselves as being as nimble as a smaller company.”

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