Dean Supply

The parking lot and the west side of the Dean Supply building at 3500 Woodland Ave., in Cleveland, shown in June 2019.

Founded by brothers Sam, Lou and Abe DeSatnik in 1950, Dean Supply in Cleveland has been one of the service industry’s go-to-providers for food service materials like cleaning and paper products, spices, janitorial supplies, kitchenware and dinnerware.

Now operated by the second and third generation, Michael DeSatnik, vice president of operations and e-commerce, and member of the third generation, said the 70th anniversary being celebrated this year “speaks volumes” for the company and its dedication to customers and community.

“The fact that we’ve been able to build the business, stay within the community and continue to keep providing the supplies and services that customers depend upon, I think it says a lot,” DeSatnik, a Moreland Hills resident said. “Seventy years doesn’t come by very easily. But it is easily something the whole team is proud of.”

But, of course, the company didn’t start as a leader in food service supplies. In asking members of the second generation about Dean Supply’s history, DeSatnik said the company was created by two of his great-uncles while working at a paper company.

“They wanted to go after larger companies and restaurants,” he said. “So, they got the blessing from that company to sell to restaurants. They started selling paper towels, napkins and things like that. The business has expanded and grown from there.”

Thinking of his journey in the business, DeSatnik, 39, joked he probably got his first paycheck when he was 5 or 6 years old.

“But seriously, I worked in the warehouse helping to stock shelves throughout high school,” he said. “After college, I went a different route and after a few years of working in another business, I came back to the company. It’s been about 11 years since then.”

Unfortunately, Dean Supply’s milestone birthday aligned with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has deeply affected many industries, especially the restaurant business, which is the company’s targeted clientele.

“No matter what, it’s an unfortunate time for everyone that we’re not hyper-focusing on the 70th birthday,” DeSatnik explained. “We’re focusing on continuing to keep offering the product that our customers (need) that are open right now and trying to provide food and carry-out business to their customers. That is our focus at this moment.”

Dean Supply also hasn’t been spared during the pandemic.

“We’ve had to furlough a number of our staff to get through this,” DeSatnik said. “And so, with that obviously, it’s tough for everyone but for everyone, we’re continuing to try and do our best to provide the same level of service for our customers. We’re not the only business going through this right now. But I think our staff is actually working better together. We’re collaborating and working together between different departments in terms of communication and trying to achieve results that might have been taken for granted in the past.”

If these were normal times, DeSatnik would have more concrete plans for the future to share, he added. Though some things are put on hold, he said Dean Supply is preparing to unveil a new website.

“It will allow our customers to have a much more streamlined experience and have much more information like their account and purchase history and reorder things quickly,” DeSatnik said. “It’ll be more of a website experience they’ve been asking for.”

Though the future is uncertain, DeSatnik said the goal is to be around to celebrate milestones for years to come.

“Another 70 years is the goal, right?” he said. “No doubt that this is an extraordinary chain of events that has happened and that has impacted our industry, and every industry for that matter. Every supply chain has been affected by COVID-19. I think we’ve taken several steps in the right direction in terms of trying to make sure we’re here for another 70.”

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