Behind the Desk: Travis Seymore
Address: 5933 Sixth Ave., Altoona
Telephone number: 201-2055
Position: Owner/general manager
Years with company: Three years
Family: Wife, Amy; son, Seth; and daughter, Sylvia
What products or services does your company provide?
We are an Italian specialty market. In our deli, we carry a full line of quality Italian meats and cheeses, along with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. We make sandwiches, subs and house made deli salads. We offer two hot meals for dinner takeout every Monday through Friday. We have a full catering menu for personal or business caterings. We have a market area filled with specialty foods and ingredients. We get breads weekly from Breadworks out of Pittsburgh as well as Pacifico’s. We partner with a lot of local small businesses to give them a different place to sell their products. We also have our house made line of specialty goods including meatballs, sausage, pasta sauce, fresh pasta, crab cakes and breaded chicken cutlets — among many other things.
Who are your customers?
I like to think our customers enjoy eating and cooking foods made with quality ingredients. Most of them are not afraid to try something new. We also have customers who are on special diets (gluten free, low sodium, vegetarian and vegan, etc.). We can normally find something a little different for those dietary needs than they are used to. Our customers also know if there is something specific they are looking for, but cannot find anywhere I will do my best to locate it for them.
What is your business day like?
As a small business, my days are usually pretty busy. I start most days by making and/or jarring sauce. I do most of the ordering. I answer customer questions. I research new products and ingredients. I try to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as what needs to be done in the kitchen. I help out in the kitchen or deli if it’s needed, though unless it’s really busy, the girls back there are excellent at keeping up. I do the scheduling and weekly menus. My favorite part of the day is just talking to our customers and getting or giving ideas for recipes.
What is the best business advice you have received?
Try to please everyone, knowing full well that you can’t please everyone. If nothing else, they may see that you tried and that experience may give them a reason to give you another shot.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned on the job?
Treat everyone with the same respect you would want in return. This job (and I assume any job) is made easier when everyone you deal with trusts and respects you. The drivers that deliver products, the sales people, employees, other business owners and customers, these are the people I must rely on. Every aspect of my business runs smoother when I treat them with the respect they deserve.
What does the future hold?
We are rolling out our fresh pasta fundraising program this year. One of the more exciting things coming at some point this year, in my opinion, will be some cooking classes/demonstrations. I hope to have a schedule of events put together very soon. I also hope to keep working with local vendors and adding more local products to our shelves. We are a small local business and we would love to be the place to go to find some of the area’s small local treasures.
What have you read lately that has influenced your business life?
One of our suppliers sent a small book called “The Fable of the Hot Dog Vendor.” I’m sure no one has read it. The moral of the story is cheaper is not always better. If you start making something one way and people like it, don’t change the ingredients just to make it cost less to make. Quality, consistency and customer satisfaction will drive your business into the future.
If you want your business to be featured in the Mirror’s Behind the Desk series, call Walt Frank at 946-7467.