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Keet Family Gets Fresh Start in Distribution

2 min read

Tough times can provide opportunities as well as challenges. So it is with JTJ Fresh Distributing of Little Rock.

JTJ was founded by the Keet family (father Jim and sons Tommy and Jake), the restaurateurs known for Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe restaurants in Arkansas and Cypress Social in North Little Rock, and Aaron Gerbitz, CFO of JTJ Restaurants.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, liquid hand sanitizer was in short supply. JTJ Fresh was launched in May to address this need, Gerbitz said. A friend who owns a distillery in Nashville, Tennessee, began manufacturing hand sanitizer, so the Keets and Gerbitz partnered with the distillery to sell and distribute the product in Arkansas and Oklahoma, primarily to restaurants.

“We saw a need to help people,” he said. Some sellers of hand sanitizer were charging exorbitant prices, Gerbitz said, and JTJ jumped in to sell it “for a fraction of what others” were charging.

Since then, Gerbitz said, it has expanded to include other personal protective equipment (like masks, face shields and gloves) for restaurants and health care providers, including nursing homes. It also sells products like small sanitizer bottles to banks and educational institutions that they then give to customers and students. In addition, it has partnered with Ben E. Keith Foods of Fort Worth, Texas, supplying sanitizer to that major food and alcoholic beverage distributor.

Gerbitz expects JTJ Fresh to continue post-pandemic as it continues to determine what products it can supply more cheaply than other manufacturers and distributors.

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