Lambert cooks up changes for EFS

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EFS Network is staking its future on machine-to-machine trading rather than on Web-based e-commerce.

Chicago-based EFS will use standard telephone connections to legacy machines when it initiates trading next month among food service companies and manufacturers.

"Our role is to be the black box, allowing companies to manage orders whether they come in EDI [electronic date interchange], XML e-mail or automated fax," said Hank Lambert, EFS’s CEO and former president of Nabisco Inc.’s Foodservice Co. "We translate those orders to the manufacturer’s preferred communication protocol. Today, that’s not really easy to do with a Web-based product."

EFS, whose name is short for electronic Food service, was founded in August 2000 by Cargill Inc., McDonald’s Corp., Sysco Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. It plans to make money by collecting an unspecified percentage of trading partners’ savings.

Since Lambert joined EFS in May, the company has developed a new logo and has built a Web site (

"Launching a company is clearly a greater challenge since Sept. 11, but we are focused," Lambert said. "We’re building a product that will enable participants to gain cost savings and improve product. In this economy—at a time of recession—the best way to grow the bottom line is to lower costs."

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