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Camp Blanding: Partnering with Clay County

Camp Blanding: Partnering with Clay County

If you spend a few minutes talking to the business owners of Clay County, Florida about why they chose Clay for their various endeavors, you will quickly start to hear a consistent theme – “the people!”  While the business leaders of the greater metropolitan areas may complain of generations coming up who don’t understand the value of hard work, dedication, customer service, and loyalty; the business leaders of Clay understand what a unique resource still exists in their community’s workforce.  A great example of a company exhibiting these core principles is Country Caterers, headquartered in Keystone Heights of Clay County, Florida and a food service provider to Camp Blanding Joint Training Center. 

Tom and Cathy Perryman started their business during the late 1970’s. They focused on preparing all meals on site to ensure quality and freshness. Eventually Tom’s favorite motto ("large or small . . . we cook them all") would define the company's vision.  Tom and Cathy worked diligently to develop the company with integrity, ethics, value and service.  Their vision to provide the same customer service to large events and small events proved to be a foundation in the company.

The company expanded from just great BBQ to formal cuisine and it quickly grew from a small private caterer into a full-service "turnkey" catering company.  During the '80s, Country Caterers began providing rental equipment such as tents, tables, chairs, generators, moon walks, slides, and amusement rides. Country Caterers’ core business is corporate catering in the North Florida area.  The foundation set by Tom and Cathy during the 80’s gave them enormous name recognition and sustainability among their customers.  

In the early '90s, Tom and Cathy performed their first large government exercise, feeding troops as they were being deployed into war.  It was at this point they expanded into providing food service to the government; to include base camp, life support and disaster response.  Having the ability to be completely mobile provided the aptitude to partake in many different types of events to include corporate, organizational, backyard, formal, banquets, weddings, government as well as emergency response and gave Country Caterers an edge on their competitors.  To meet these demands for diversity Tom and Cathy began building an extensive network of resources and suppliers. 

Along the way Tom and Cathy started providing emergency meal service for disaster response. This new market entailed many power companies as well as state and local governments.  Instead of a few hundred or a few thousand meals at a time, Tom and Cathy were now supporting thousands of meals at a time over extended time periods.  In addition to meal services came equipment rentals and just about anything else their clients needed. By the time the storms of 2004 hit, Tom and Cathy’s crews were seasoned and established leaders in disaster emergency response.  During that particular hurricane season, Tom and Cathy traveled all over Florida for three months moving from one hurricane to another.  You can begin to imagine the fatigue their staff tirelessly fights through to serve the needs of their patrons with dedication and pride!

With the knowledge of food service, event management, and turnkey production, Country Caterers began focusing in the government contracting area via the open market system and the GSA contracting avenue.  Country Caterers became a GSA (General Service Administration) contractor in the later part of 2008.  Since then Tom, Cathy and the crew have traveled all over the US providing meals, life support and base camp resources. 

Now with over 50 employees, Country Caterers has grown into three distinct areas of business: corporate, formal and government.  Tom and Cathy foresee these areas defining who they have become as a company.  Having the ability to provide a variety of services gives the company different platforms from which to operate and conduct food service.  

The presence of Camp Blanding Joint Training Center (CBJTC) in Clay County allows area businesses a unique market opportunity to expand their offerings.  In April of 2015, Country Caterers was awarded a 5-Year Contract for Services to provide food service at the Moody Hall Conference Center Restaurant, the dining facility located on Kingsley Lake at CBJTC.  As demand dictates, the facility can be staffed and operational 7 days a week, 365 days a year providing up to 3 meals a day.  In addition to providing dining services, Country Caterers provides mobile food trucks on base.  The trucks are used to serve soldiers in the “field” by offering a fresh option to the alternative of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat). 

Camp Blanding Joint Training Center is essentially a small town with many different groups utilizing the base facilities throughout the year.  Anticipating demand based on base traffic fluctuation due to troop training cycles, recreational amenity users, and special state and federal agencies is no small task.  Teresa Perryman Sass is the Director of Operations at the Conference Center Restaurant and she leads a team of 17+ employees who work tirelessly to meet the ever-changing needs of base personnel traffic.  She and the staff take considerable pride in the honor of caring for the people who are ensuring freedom for us all.  Country Caterers is proud of the partnership they and the state have created to provide the diversity of services to the base.  Co-owner Tom Perryman is a former service member himself and a true patriot to his country and community. 

Country Caterers is also proud that many employees have remained with the company for decades.  By establishing and maintaining Country Caterers in Keystone Heights of Clay County, (owners) Tom and Cathy have been able to give back to their community by employing local workers, purchasing local resources, patronizing other small business and giving to the surrounding small town communities for over 35 years. They are true stewards to small business and supporting the local community.   Their mission statement: “We will maintain integrity in everything we do, continue to grow and expand to meet the demands of our customers, excel through industry leadership, be competitive, surpass expectations, and develop long-lasting relationships with suppliers and customers to sustain growth” sets an incredibly high-bar!  However, it is a bar that they continue to reach and raise making them a proud example of the types of hard working and dedicated business professionals who call Clay County, Florida home.    

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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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