In addition to account retention, Compass Group USA also emphasized employee retention from day one. Only about a dozen executives came from Britain when the company bought Canteen from Flagstar in June 1994, setting up shop initially where Flagstar was based, in Spartanburg, SC. There were no layoffs of Canteen employees with all corporate staffers offered jobs when the company moved the headquarters to Charlotte in December of the same year.
The company selected Charlotte over Atlanta and Washington because the city had two direct flights to Britain and company officials believed staff in Spartanburg would more likely relocate to Charlotte than the other locations in order to keep the team intact, and the majority did relocate.
Compass Group USA chose a new office building only minutes from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, initially occupying two floors with about 75 employees. Today, the company has over 2,000 corporate employees who fill that entire building along with a sister building nearby. Nationwide, the company’s employee base has grown from about 18,000 in 1994 to more than 267,000 today.
Another key has been Compass Group USA’s expertise in purchasing, a strength it brought from Britain and enhanced when it happened upon Foodbuy in 2000.
Compass Group purchased Foodbuy in 2001. Today, it is the largest foodservice and hospitality procurement organization in North America, with managed volume of more than $20 billion annually. Serving Compass Group and other organizations, Foodbuy offers sophisticated ordering, tracking, compliance tools, and data platforms.
Woven through the Compass Group USA story of purchasing expertise, employee engagement, client retention, sectorization, and growth is leadership. When CEO Green and his predecessor came to the US in 1994, they took active roles in the daily life of the business. Such hands-on leadership continued as Compass Group USA acquired more operating companies over the next 25 years.