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Rochester Top 100: Family business takes 21st century path

Rochester Business Journal
February 5, 2016


With CaterTrax executive officers are Dan Welch, chief strategy officer, second from right, and Rich Rund, CEO, far right. Welch says, “If anything it feels like 2016 into early 2017 will be the time frame that maybe we’re going to see that next jump (in business).” (Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

It takes some foresight for four generations of a family to sustain their place in an industry.

CaterTrax—a dba for Hospitality101 Inc.—has modernized the food service industry, but its founders’ roots remain in Rochester and steeped in catering to the customer.

CaterTrax is an online software catering management platform. The company serves more than 4,000 customers in the United States and Canada.  The firm employs 84 people and plans to add based on need in 2016.

“A caterer is a professional apologizer because there’s always going to be mistakes. There’s always going to be problems that they constantly need to solve,” said Richard Rund, co-founder and CEO. “If we can be a part of supporting that stakeholder (then) that’s what we’re really set out to do.”

Rund represents the fourth generation of his family in the hospitality industry.

CaterTrax was founded over a decade ago as a natural extension of the Rund family’s professional background. Rund’s family line in the restaurant industry dates back to 1906 with the launch of East Main Lunch—a 24-hour lunch cart on East Main Street. The family would later operate a slew of taverns and restaurants in the region.

Its history paved the way for CaterTrax, however, and the current generation found a way to remain relevant for a 21st century catering industry.

Co-founders and brothers-in-law Rund and Daniel Welch crafted software to operate their business in a more data-driven way.

“At one point there were probably weekends where we did 30-40-50 orders a day. When you’re doing that kind of volume you’ve got to have it organized,” said Welch, chief strategy officer. “In the food industry everything is obviously so perishable; you make a mistake and you’re eating a lot of leftover bread.”

The software was created for internal use to manage events for Rund’s Original Catering Co. Inc. The leaders found the software worked so well on Rund’s business that Rund and Welch decided to see how it would be received by other catering firms.

They decided to test the software on one of Rund’s Catering’s best clients—ExxonMobil Chemical Corp. Rund’s Catering served over 500 people at Exxon Mobil’s work site, starting in 1999.

“We were blessed to have that incubator,” Rund said.

Rund’s Catering still operates, but in 2004 the leaders shifted their focus to growing CaterTrax.

CaterTrax switched to serving larger clients, starting with one university. Strong growth followed.

“We’re not the fanciest software out there on the market, but when you ask any of our users—and I don’t say (this) out of arrogance but out of pride—(they say) ‘your system is so easy to use, it’s so intuitive,’ ” Welch said. “That’s because it was built by people that actually were caterers that know what the caterer needs to see.”

Each university looked to streamline multiple food service locations, making the installation of CaterTrax a natural fit. The schools sought to standardize their workflow and establish best practices across their enterprise, officials said.

Further propelling growth was the firm’s first-place finish in the 2005 Rochester Regional Business Plan Contest Competition.

The CaterTrax team moved into High Tech Rochester Inc.’s Lennox Tech Enterprise Center. There the company received a year of free rent—along with other prizes—which helped it solidify its foundation.

“The average catering event will change a dozen times,” Rund said. “So when you look at CaterTrax, its project management—it gives the operator all that predictability into the future orders that they’re trying to create.”

The competition is increasing, but nothing compares to what CaterTrax can offer a business today, company officials said.

“If anything it feels like 2016 into early 2017 will be the time frame that maybe we’re going to see that next jump,” Welch said.

CaterTrax has not only helped businesses but it has helped to change the way people think of catering. Orders on paper no longer cut it, officials said.

“We used to use the analogy (that) what online booking did for the airline industry is what CaterTrax is in the process of doing for the catering industry,” Rund says. “Would you ever pick up a phone to book an airline ticket again? Never. And that’s our mentality.”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.

CaterTrax
Online software catering management platform for the food service and restaurant industries.
Year founded: 2004
2015 ranking: 84
Top executive: Richard Rund, CEO
Current employment: 84
Headquarters: Rochester
Website: catertrax.com

2/5/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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