As CEO of Ginsberg’s Foods — the Hudson Valley’s largest independent family-owned food service distributor — Suzanne Rajczi is responsible for a company that generates $169 million in annual revenue and sells more than 8,000 products across New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Rajczi attributes the company’s success to the relationships they create with their clients, most of whom are independent restaurant operators. It’s easy to relate to those customers’ day-to-day challenges, since she grew up working in her family’s restaurant, Kozel’s Restaurant, in Ghent. “I have walked in their shoes,” she says. “It was ingrained in me at a very early age that hard work, dedication, service to customers, and initiative would result in personal and financial success.”
What do you know now that you wish you had known then?
“You will have failures, people will test you, and they will harass you. However, it is how you come through and learn from those situations that defines you.”
Working in an industry where 97.5% of all executives are men, Rajczi founded and is Chair Emeritus of International Foodservice Distributors Association’s (IFDA) Women’s Leadership Committee, consistently pushing for more female representation at the executive level.
“There is no doubt that by being a woman in business, you are held to different standards and expectations,” she says. “I learned early on that there was gender bias and I experienced it first-hand. How do you ask a potential customer to engage in a relationship without any implied connotation? As a woman, your approach needs to be firm, professional, and respectful.”
It’s not all work for Rajczi. She has been married for 26 years and her commitment to literacy led her to help develop and support the successful Hudson Reads Literacy program at Hudson City School District. “Supporting the community in which your company and employees reside starts with local schools and hospitals.”