You may be searching for jobs or careers at Sysco Foods right now and wondering if being a Marketing Associate is a good career choice. Maybe you are worried about how much you will work and what the job will entail…
I worked at Sysco Foods as a Marketing Associate for 1.5 years. Though the benefits & steady salary are GREAT for a sales job, working at Sysco Foods was not worth the constant headache from both customers & your fellow employees. At a starting salary of $52,000 a year, you are expected to be a slave to pretty much everyone.
After about 1.5 years, I had enough there and started an online business because I vowed to never work for a corporation again.
Okay… before we get into this, I want to prove to y’all that I’m not just a winy bitch.
Hi! My name is Sebastian.
By the time I was 21, I was running a restaurant that did $4 million a year in sales. Through a ton of hard work & grinding away, I got decent at cooking and working in kitchens.
I’ve done it all in restaurants from worrying about my staff getting busted for drinking or immigration coming, all the way to plating $500 dinners with tweezers.
My career was crazy and filled with an amazing collection of memories and relationships.
I have done everything in restaurants from prep, cooking, expo, managing, cleaning, hiring, barista, donut maker, firing, shucking, helping bar backs, cleaning bathrooms, ordering food, creating menus, banquets, etc.
I have done everything kitchen-related you can pretty much do when it comes to foodservice. Never had the chance to stage at a 3 Michelin star place, but I did spend one night at Atera in NYC which was 2 star.
Passion led me to NYC where I landed a dream job at the 1 Michelin star Blue Hill (they were on the Netflix show Chefs Table).
(Sanjay Gupta & I)
I quit that job 1 week after starting it & went to go make donuts for a brand new hipster donut shop.
Long story short, I helped this dude grow his dope donut shop, but along the way I fell in love with talking to people. My other passion was photography, because of that I ended up shooting fashion bloggers on the side for fun.
One day my buddy Justin & I were shooting during fashion week & he introduced me to Suitsupply. I ended up scoring a job there about two weeks later.
I had NEVER worn a suit nor did I know anything about clothing. Oh yeah, I had NEVER sold anything for a living…
Like what the fuck right? Crazy what a bit of people skills can get you in life!
So yeah that’s how I got into sales… I worked at Suitsupply for about a year and learned so much about sales, clothing, & people.
Selling food is hard, but measuring near a guy’s sweaty crotch and making small talk is a whole other type of hard.
Though 1 year may not seem like a long time, during that 12 months I worked at the flagship SOHO store, the Madison location, & even was able to travel to Philly to work at that location for free!
I learn fast & the people that worked around me were highly skilled individuals. It was a fast track into sales for sure.
Because of a girl, I set my sites onto Utah (don’t EVER move to Utah). There was a position open where she lived so I said fuck it & applied.
After several rounds of interviews with managers, I got hired at Sysco Intermountain. At first, I was so freaking happy!
I loved Sysco as a chef, it’s where we would order most of our food from at pretty much every place I ever worked at. Overall as a food service provider, they really are great.
Now that I introduced myself, let’s get into why working at Sysco Foods was one of the worst experiences of my life!
Foodservice is a tough business
If the first 600 words of this post didn’t prove to you that I know restaurants, let’s take it one step further.
My father has been in the industry for over 30 years. As a child, instead of a babysitter, I was running around a super busy downtown restaurant that my dad was running.
Literally, this industry is in my core. I gave up a lot of time, memories, & parts of my physical body to this work.
If you have never worked in a restaurant or any food service, you should because it will make you a better person. It is hard work with very very very little reward.
It makes you humble and appreciate things like sunsets on Friday nights because for 8 fucking years you didn’t see them because you were in a hot kitchen.
But all that aside, the industry at its core is incredibly volatile & hard to keep up with. Just as trendy as the fashion industry, but with WAY more risk.
Selling, in general, is hard but when you have such tiny amounts of margin to play with, it gets even harder. Now let me be clear, there are some products in foodservice that you can still make money on, but most things you cannot.
How selling food works:
- You give away the bread and butter items (ie milk, flour, commodity stuff) because you KNOW that the competition is just gonna undercut you there.
- You find the few products that your customer LOVES from you and you make a killing on those while the rest of the items just fill the truck pretty much
Really not a great business to be in because everything is based on price.
If you didn’t know, restaurants make VERY little money. The overhead and labor costs are just insane & they keep going higher.
Every food supplier knows this, so now they are offering “tech” & “specialists” to customers… let’s get into that & how bad Sysco was at it…
So Sysco is a HUGE company like they really have an impressive infrastructure to deliver food. Sure, they sell food, but at the end of the day what they really are is a massive storage & transportation enterprise.
I am gonna talk a lot of shit on them in this department, but by no means is food storage easy or cheap. They do a great job at a lot of things, but some things are just crippling them & keeping them in the old days.
Being a corporation is nice until every decision needs to go through 10 people. They just move too slow. The technology they provide to customers is lackluster & about years behind what It should be.
They introduced this “menu design program” which we were supposed to pitch to our customers… guys i am not kidding when I say it was the most comedic piece of software you could ever imagine. It was SO SO SO bad that it wasn’t funny… but they were proud of it.
To put it in perspective, the website & app Canva.com is 100% free and about 1 million times more powerful than this garbage they were trying to give to customers.
The thing with Sysco, they have a lot of old people working there who suck at technology.
It was a HUGE problem at my opco. Many of the sales people were so unskilled with tech that it was scary…
They are trying to teach dummies how to teach other dummies to use garbage software.
Half of our staff complained about customers being able to do their own orders, it really is insane how behind some of these people were. You know how I said Sysco was mostly a transportation company? That should mean that the tech side of things would be perfect…
What if I told you that in the 1.5 years I worked there, the app that tracked the trucks delivery route worked MAYBE 3 times…
My customers would call to ask why their truck was two hours late and pretty much every time, I couldn’t give them a reason besides the generic “driver got held up”
Once, I had a serious issue about a truck during lunch hour, I called the Opco expecting to be able to reach a high up in transportation…took me over 1.5 hours to get a callback.
Seriously, the company is a joke when it comes to communications and technology, but that isn’t the worst part...Sysco sells food & I was a sales rep, but they make selling so hard!
They used two systems when I was there, one called SAM & the other was their crappy online ordering interface. Again, both systems were complete garbage and unacceptable for a company of their size.
It was so hard to learn SAM, guys I have been building computers since the age of 13, I love tech but even I struggled with this outdated program. It was so bad & so easy to mess up searching for stuff that they spent DAYS trying to train us on this.
An ordering platform should be simple & lightweight. No one should need expert training to use it. I understand the needs of corporations are specific, but this program was just outdated, nothing more.
So guys, if you love tech and want to help your customers out, don’t let Sysco teach you how to do it… learn it on your own.
Lots of pressure
Look, I get it sales = pressure.
This is different… If you have never sold food or been In the restaurant industry, you just won’t understand. I don’t want to say what we were doing was critical, but in a way it was.
If a restaurant didn’t get an order for some reason, that can cost them over $20,000 in sales for the day. It’s not a game.
My boss didn’t give me much pressure, he was easy going and that’s why I was able to get away with not doing much. Though I liked him as a buddy, he wasn’t someone I respected as a boss. His boss above him was busy with other stuff, so besides the non-sense corporate stuff, that part of the job didn’t provide too much pressure.
What did provide pressure & stress was the customers that I was given.
When starting out in food sales, you are given the accounts no one wants… the Asian restaurants, the greek & Indian places, & those that we know will close in a few months.
No one wants these customers, they are cheap & provide very little commission & growth opportunities.
Dealing with cheap people all day who don’t care about food will kill your soul. Especially for someone like me who came from a world where plating stuff with tweezers was “normal”. I HATED some of these people for what they were doing to food.
When you deal with un-educated people who lack basic business & time management skills, your life kinda revolves around them. Always keeping tabs on is Joe gonna order at 2 pm like he said he would? Is so & so gonna call at 4:59 again and expect me to work miracles?
Oh and after I work miracles, their truck still comes late the next day or the warehouse makes a mistake. Even if something wasn’t my fault, you as the sales rep are the punching bag.
Just so many little things like this that would ruin my day. You had to be available till 5 each day & my phone was like a ship anchor. I had to be next to it or I could severely ruin my customer’s day.
The last thing I will cover in this part is the meetings that Sysco made us go to once a month. It was great that once you were in your district, you just had one large monthly sales meeting at the opco. Problem is, these meetings were hell.
They wanted you there at 7 am and would make you sit in one boring presentation after another. For a billion-dollar company, I expect you to hire people that are professional speakers to inspire us. I don’t want to hear from Marg in accounting about how milk sales are down.
This is why the school system is garbage too, they expect everyone to just sit down, shut up & learn. It doesn’t work like that.
These monthly sales meetings were some of the lowest points in my life. They were that bad, that drawn-out, & that much of a waste of time. They would make you sit through a 30-45 minute awards ceremony each month for things that didn’t matter. It was pure nonsense.
So yeah… after all that, I started to lose my mind and stopped caring about working at Sysco…
How I didn’t work my last 6 months there
I started thrifting! I will talk more about the business as it stands currently in the next little bit, but for now, let’s talk about how this all came about!
One day Shyanne & I were at home, out of boredom I downloaded the app Poshmark. If you have never heard of it, pretty much a place where you can sell used clothes. I grabbed a jacket from my closet, listed it, & sold it within 30 minutes. I was hooked.
Kept listing items from my closet & in my free time, I would hit the thrift store. Turns out, my hobby of thrift shopping could actually turn into a real income… The numbers just kept growing. At first, it was $500 a month in sales, then $1000, then $4000…
Once the number started to grow and was higher than my Sysco income, I started to make it so either I would get fired in a year or I would have a business. 6 months later I had a business.
Instead of prospecting & visiting customers, I would be at the thrift store. I kept my current customers happy, but I didn’t try to grow any new business.
I want to make this very clear…I never screwed over a customer because of this, I just didn’t actively grow my sales route.
It was comedic at how easy it was to get away with this working for a company like this.
Sure a few times people mentioned that my business wasn’t growing, but nothing ever really happened… It was so odd at how much no one seemed to do their job there.
Keeping my head down had worked great for about 6 months, but I had enough.
Getting to a point where lying was getting exhausting, I knew it was time to get out.
Shyanne & I said $10,000 a month in sales was the number I could quit at. We did that 3 months in a row, signed all the papers on our home that we had bought (Sysco looked great on the credit app), & I quit my job at Sysco Foods a few weeks later…
Oh by the way… to rub it in even more to the fact that no one there knows what is going on…
To get rid of some of the stress of building a new business & still trying to survive in the corporate bullshit I was in, I started playing ice hockey on the clock!
From 3-5 several times a week, I would go play hockey instead of prospecting or doing my job. No one ever knew.
What we do now
So life is pretty different now, but we still hustle & sell used stuff online!
My wife & I now pretty much work mostly from home, except for the times when we go thrifting. Besides that, our little business runs out of our garage & we spend all day together as a family (I actually like my wife)
If you want to read our crazy long story about our love life, check out this post!
Oh yeah, since the Sysco times, we had a little boy!
We are far from rich, but the goal is to be financially free in the next few years!
eBay has been our family’s main source of income for the past 2 years or so. Sure, we had other side hustles during that time, but it has always been number one. This is what the business does now as far as numbers…
Our efforts now have shifted towards teaching & inspiring others to start their own side hustles. The world of digital marketing & affiliates is ever-growing, so our path is leading us down that route now.
We don’t want to thrift anymore, after selling over 7000 unique items online the past few years, it’s time to pass the buck to someone else.
The only business we want is one that can fit into a backpack.
Online sales have opened our eyes to making money remotely & we are addicted to it. Throughout our website, we use affiliate links, sell courses, & offer mentorship to others. No longer are we trying to trade 50 hours a week for a mundane salary.
Want to get started in your online selling journey? We created a totally free course to get you quickly started & to hopefully inspire you to hustle!
Who should work at Sysco foods
If you are a by the rules person that hates to ask questions, go apply at Sysco! If you really hate your creativity & free time, go apply at Sysco. If you want to make $80k a year after working there for 10 years, go apply at Sysco.
Pretty much the only people that will make it at any type of place like this are the types that just fit the corporate mold. I clearly was not one of those people.
I have this overwhelming problem with arbitrary rules & busy work just to make it seem like things are being done. Working at this one company made me never want to work for anyone ever again.
So yeah, if you don’t value your self & want to waste the next 10 years of your life, go apply at Sysco Foods!