A Fresh Take on Catering
Oct 01, 2013
No job is too big for SMS Catering Services. When the National College Athletic Association hosted the men’s basketball tournament in Charlotte, the company served 6,500 people in under an hour. They served 5,000 teachers at multiple stations during an appreciation event last year. And, when storms knocked out power, SMS Catering fed the repair crews dispatched by local electrical companies.
The family owned and operated company has been catering receptions, reunions, retreats – and every celebration in between – for more than 40 years. Bob Freeman started SMS Catering as a side business in 1971. He volunteered to man the grill at fundraisers and rallies for his employer, then-Congressman Jim Martin. When Martin ran for governor, Freeman took his talents full-time; he now owns Charlotte’s largest and oldest catering company.
Robert Freeman III joined his father full-time in 1997 after completing his master’s degree. As general manager, he has solidified the company’s reputation for delivering authentic North Carolina barbeque fresh at events. “We focus on grilling and cooking on-location to give the customer a fresher and better product,” he said. He also oversaw the construction of SMS Catering’s nine-acre event facility, which features a state-of-the-art banquet hall and game room.
Robert credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his father. Early in Robert’s career, Bob and Robert invented the cordless food warmer that has enabled the company to operate in weather of all kinds. The idea was conceived during a fish fry for 1,200 people. “There was a storm off the coast and it was unusually cool,” Bob recalled. “By the time they got the fish to the serving line, it was too cold to eat. That’s what prompted him to start looking at other ways to heat.”
The company has also built a reputation for excellent customer service. It is part of their brand promise; SMS stands for Service Means Satisfaction. The Freemans appreciate that their banking partner since 1998, Bank of America, shares this commitment. Robert is especially impressed that his client manager, Ofelia Amador, regularly visits the business in order to understand how it operates.
“It’s the longest relationship I’ve had with a bank; the best relationship I’ve had,” said Robert. “I’ve got good faith and confidence in the bank.” The connection to Bank of America will enable SMS Catering to serve up fresh food, innovative products and quality service for years to come.