Progress in these times is a rare commodity. So, when CW SoCal all- stars, James Politis and Justin Lawson, step up to the proverbial plate via promotion, CW Magazine considers this news fodder worth celebrating and delving into. Check out the low down on the two new SoCal/AZ CW “sheriffs” in town.
CW VP of Sales / LA
Grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey. Wrestled for Rutgers University, earned a BA in Political Science. Worked at Tom Colicchio’s famed “40 Main Street,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s restaurant, “Schatzi,” in Santa Monica, and was a Bar Manager and Mixologist at prominent Chef Joe Miller’s, “Joe’s Restaurant.” In 2008 became a Sales Rep for Young’s Market, a Regional Sales Director position at Sysco followed.
The Big Steal
CW West Coast VP, Bruce Luong, brought James onboard for for CW Los Angeles 2018.
Artist In The House
James originally moved to L.A. pursuing a career in music. An accomplished guitarist and song writer, James still writes, sings and plays in his home studio.
Reasons James Loves CW
“The culinary in Los Angeles has really come into its own the past 20 years. I really love being solutions based with our products and services. In the food service industry there’s always lots of challenges. I also greatly value being able to show people a new career. Introducing chefs and pastry chefs to their potential as Sales Reps for CW is my favorite thing about being in our industry. A lot of chefs will tell you, including me, as a former mixologist, working for CW is where you get the best of both worlds. You still get to be around all the creativity and great food. You get to work with the best products-ingredients. However, you can still have a life. You don’t have to work so hard and you get to spend time with your friends and family.”
The Politis Philosophy
“I like to think of myself as a big student. I really enjoy question-based selling as a way of getting our customers what they need. It’s very important that we listen to what the customer wants and needs and then get it for them by any means possible.”
“COVID obviously threw everything up in the air. We’re currently mapping out a marketing calendar for the year with different promotions, and incentives, customer facing and sales rep facing etc.. We have begun to conduct a couple outdoor (in our dock area for the CW trucks), fun, productive and safe Rep-Vendor meet ups. It’s just so good to be working with each other at any distance that’s not behind a computer. We have five tables spread far apart. We have great weather here in Southern California that we get to take advantage of. It’s really uplifting and amazing to see everyone, and this time is crucial for our vendors. Meeting in this way and making sure the meeting is worth it for everyone in terms of R.O.I. is of great importance across the board. It’s an opportunity for the vendor to do any kind of educating they have on their product. It’s also a time for us to strategize together, and maybe jump on ‘ride along sales call’ (in masks of course!)”
CW Singular Sensation
“What is singular about CW is our follow up and follow through, our sense of urgency around taking care of the customer is absolutely second to none. Our chefs need us more than ever now. We are absolutely second to none in making sure that we come through for them.”
What The Holidays Mean
“We will Christmas here with my wife’s family including her mother and sister. I am not necessarily a turkey guy. We will probably do anything from a nice Fillet to Five Spice Braised Short Ribs to maybe Snow Crab Legs etc. One of our favorite traditions is doing Christmas Karaoke. Everybody gets into it. You can play any song. My wife’s mother is Vietnamese and she’ll sing some French love songs. It’s a great time. I’ll do my classic Bruce Springsteen, ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.’ Always a good one.”
CW Director of Sales / SoCal, AZ
Hailing Originally From
Atlanta Georgia. Justin moved to Park City, Utah in 2008 where he worked as a chef at Jean George, Park City, Utah, for five years. He then moved to San Diego in 2013 and started at the Chefs’ Warehouse in 2014. Culinary Bug: While attending University of Mississippi for a business degree, Lawson was working at a restaurant and loving it, decided to “chop and change” and go to culinary school.
Vibe on working at CW
“I love this job! I really have not had a bad day since I started with CW seven years ago. My work with CW has taken me all over the world and all over the country, sourcing and getting to know the best ingredients, vendors and chefs in the industry. This job is way better than peeling artichokes.”
Eye On The Fresh Future
“I want to be able to keep expanding our categories that we already have and continuing to grow the farmers market produce line that we’ve built during COVID. This has always meant a lot to me since we got the opportunity to do it here in Southern California. I loved helping to lead the charge for this exciting category. I still go to the farmers market every Wednesday in Santa Monica, to help select and buy all the produce for CW to offer our chefs.”
“We just had our new baby daughter last April, and we also have a five year old, and a three and a half year old. The holidays are very important to us. But we do not do Santa Claus. We believe more in traditions. We have gotten our first Christmas tree and we do what we call ‘giving.’ But we do not commercialize our Christmas at all, or any holidays for that matter.”
Getting Past Covid
“As a culture and a society, we are very resilient and we’re going to bounce back. It is hard right now, but it’s going to get better.”