Rick Miles and 5 Guys
By Bill Schaefer
It’s been quite a ride for Rick Miles in the 10 years since he first began supplying fresh Idaho potatoes to Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurants.
In 2002, when Rick Miles Produce Service Inc. was contracted to supply fresh potatoes for french fries, the chain consisted of five stores. Today, there are 1,075 Five Guys restaurants serving their famous burgers with fresh french fries. The chain continues to grow at a rate of more than 200 stores annually, with a total of 1,500 franchises in development.
“In 2002, they had five franchise stores and our first shipment to them was 150 50-pound bags of potatoes and that would last them for about 10 days,” Miles said. “We now ship weekly between 50,000 and 60,000 50-pound bags.”
That comes to more than 150 million pounds of potatoes annually.
With that rate of growth, Miles recently moved his company from two small offices in Rigby, Idaho, into a new, 11,000-square-foot warehouse in Idaho Falls. The three-level building includes office space, a conference room and test kitchen, along with storage space to alleviate the demands on the packing sheds from which he purchases stock to supply Five Guys.
In the second-story offices, CEO Rick and his wife, Betty, director of new business development, work in one office. Their daughters, Sheri Littleford, chief financial officer, and Brooke Holverson, chief operations officer, work in an adjacent office. Accountant Greg Hayward, Mary Sedberry, in sales, and Albany Horel, sales assistant, work in a third office nearby.
“The underlying factor for putting this facility in was that we’re now shipping out so much product on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that the packing facilities were having difficulty storing enough product,” Miles said. “This will serve as an overflow for those weekends and holidays where we need a lot of extra product to ship.”
Being able to store potatoes on site frees up floor space at other packing facilities during that three-day peak shipping period. In addition to a controlled refrigeration facility, a new receiving area can handle up to 25 truckloads of potatoes or onions — another product that Miles supplies to Five Guys restaurants.
“We’ll be able to bring two loads, four loads, 10 loads, 20 loads — whatever we need — into this facility and have the trucks load here so they can continue manufacturing and packaging at their facility without running our of floor space,” Miles said.
A typical truckload will be 840 50-lb. units, Miles said. Most of the potatoes come from Idaho, with Washington supplying some. A small percentage comes from Prince Edward Island to supply eastern Canada.
According to Miles, it takes five days to get the potatoes from Idaho to the East Coast. His company handles logistics for all deliveries.
“We provide all transportation and negotiate with all the trucking firms,” Miles said.
Because Five Guys’ growth has been constant, Miles’ company has been able to project a year in advance how much product to contract for each year.
“We’ll be starting to make arrangements to contract our Washington supplies within about the next six weeks and then our Idaho product, we’ll have all of the agreements in place by February and that will take us through the ’13-’14 season,” Miles said.
With 200 new Five Guys’ franchises opening annually, Miles estimates that an additional 500,000 to 600,000 50-lb. bags of potatoes will be required.
“We’re actually figuring through the end of July this year we’ll be servicing about 1,250 units and by that time, we’ll have consumed between 2.7 and 3 million 50-lb. units from Aug. 1 to July 31,” Miles said.