Students in The School of Hospitality Business received a first-hand account of what strategies are needed to start and build a successful food service company on Wednesday, October 21. Alumnus Jeremy Mourey (BA ’00), corporate operations director of Premiere Food Service, headquartered in Williamston, MI, spoke in both sections of HB 489 – Hospitality Business Strategy, taught by Professor of Practice Mike Rice (BA ’76) and Dr. Ron Cichy (BA ’72, MBA 77).

The company was established by Jeremy’s parents Larry and Lori in 1992 and now provides corporate food service to eight major clients in 14 buildings and four states. From the start, Jeremy was an integral part of the company. At the age of 13, Jeremy helped his father come up with the name and concept for the company that “would eventually become the backbone of their existence,” Jeremy says.

Scrubbing pots and pans, mopping floors, filling vending machines, Jeremy worked for the company through high school. Attending The School, he completed an internship at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and another with Premiere, working at various locations in management.

After graduating, Jeremy fully joined the family company, but never stopped learning. He has attended courses at the Culinary Institute of America – Napa Valley and he has completed the Dale Carnegie Course in human relations and public speaking. He serves as graduate assistant in the course each year, and when The School offers the three-hour Dale Carnegie Professional Development Program to its student leaders.

As he has taken on more strategic responsibilities in Premiere, Jeremy has also given back. He is a frequent guest lecturer in The School, he mentors students through the Spartan Sponsors Mentor Program, and he provides student clubs in The School with site tours at Premiere locations.

“Alumni such as Jeremy are precious resources for our students,” says Dr. Cichy. “He models for them the possibilities that are out there.” Jeremy was named The School’s Alumni Association Emerging Alumnus Leader in 2013.

Jeremy described his company’s commitment to long-term relationships with its partner clients, which include Jackson National Life, Lincoln Financial Group, Wolverine Worldwide, Michigan Farm Bureau, Auto-Owners Insurance, Bridgestone/Firestone, Dart, and Emergent Biosolutions.

Corporations retain Premiere to design, build, and manage full-service employee dining, high-end executive dining, and off-site corporate events such as tailgates and charity efforts for its clients. It also operates gift shops, vending machines, and coffee service systems.

Recognizing that each client is different, whether it manufactures and sells shoes, cups, or insurance, Premiere is committed to learning “what they want, and make it a reality,” he said. In any of its efforts, Premiere listens carefully, uses the finest branded concepts in the industry, and strives to “keep things exciting, fresh, and creative.”

Within Premiere, Jeremy said, “Customer service is at center stage, every day.” The company listens to its associates to learn what motivates them and keeps them committed to Premiere’s values. And it empowers its team members, providing extensive training, development, and opportunities to move ahead in the company.

Jeremy talked to the students about how Premiere strategically wins new clients and retains them; develops team members and keeps them happy; builds and keeps satisfied customers, and creates an environment of innovation and implementation. “It is all about relationship building,” he emphasized. The company has been successful in this: Premiere has not lost one client since 1992 when it was founded.

The day after Jeremy spoke to the students, the Lansing State Journal published a feature on the new $60 million Jackson National Life building near campus. Premiere Food Service manages the entire food service operations for the growing company which has roughly 2,600 employees at its headquarters.

Discussing work/life balance, Jeremy emphasized that the managed service segment of the hospitality industry has allowed him to spend more time with his wife and three children.

“Jeremy’s presentation gave me a new perspective on food service,” says Joe Mirsky (BA ’16), a student in Professor Rice’s class. “I never knew that contract food service had such a large scope. It is definitely an interesting segment that I will explore for my future!”