Sticking to 10-Year Plan Has Helped Dealer Achieve Consistent, Rapid Growth

After 10 years, you’d think Patricia Bible, owner of KaTom Restaurant Supply, would be used to seeing her company’s name on Inc. magazine’s annual ranking of the fastest growing companies in America. But the co-founder of the Tennessee-based foodservice equipment dealer finds herself surprised every time. “We’re still in awe, to be somewhat honest,” Bible says. “We’re in shock.”

To make the Inc. 5000 list even once is a major milestone. This year, no company with less than 50 percent growth during the past three years was included. Making it 10 times puts KaTom in an exclusive club. Only 142 companies on the 2018 list have been on it ten times before, a testament to KaTom’s consistency over the past decade. Bible says the company has grown by an average of 24 percent for the past four years, enough for it to place 3,804 on the Inc. 5000 list.

KaTom’s success and the recognition from Inc. is even more special to Bible because it is a family business. Bible founded the company with her husband, Tim, in the 1980s and now runs it with her children, Paula and Charley. “It’s just the most amazing counterpart to have both your children in the company and to know they care as much as I care—and their vision is even bigger than mine,” Bible says, adding that her millennial-aged children bring a lot of execution and wisdom to the company.

Paula runs the company’s e-commerce division, which launched in 2001 and was Tim’s brainchild before he passed away that same year. Charley handles business development. Bible says the two of them don’t always agree or succeed in their efforts at first, “but they keep trying until they both end up winners.” The siblings are a major reason why the company has been able to maintain its rapid growth pace for the past decade, Bible says. “It’s very powerful to watch the two of them hand-in-hand,” she explains. “Watching that happen in a family-based business is exhilarating for me.”

Along with strong leadership, KaTom has benefited from developing and sticking to a 10-year plan that guides its business. The plan sets long-term goals for every division within the company—marketing, e-commerce, distribution, technology, and finances—which department heads then break down into five- and one-year initiatives and major expenditures. For 2018, the company is investing in a 12,000-square-foot addition to its distribution center and a 10,000-square-foot expansion to its offices to create more room for e-commerce and sales, and its 2019 expansion is expected to double this year’s. “This kind of growth doesn’t just happen,” Bible says. “Now that we have found our niche, we know that change is imperative. We work hard to make sure we don’t allow ourselves to be in a rut. We are constantly reinventing ourselves.”

The full Inc. 5000 list can be found here.