Bill Hansen now operates four catering brands under a newly launched parent company, Hansen Group
By Sara Perez Webber
Decades after founding his eponymous market-leading catering company in Miami, Bill Hansen was itching to expand.
He’d catered thousands of weddings and special events, cementing a reputation as the go-to caterer in South Florida. Along the way, Hansen established himself as an industry expert, having taught aspiring caterers at Florida International University’s hospitality school as an adjunct professor since 1990. He’s received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Catersource and even written a textbook on catering used in college classrooms across the country.
Yet Hansen isn’t one to rest on his laurels—at 78 years old, he likes to say he’s “not retired but re-fired.” Envisioning even bigger things for Bill Hansen Catering, Hansen decided to grow the business through mergers and acquisitions.
So, in the last four years, Hansen has acquired three South Florida catering companies. They are now part of the newly launched Hansen Group, which serves as the umbrella organization for four catering brands—as well as a concierge service to help planners and clients find just the right venues and vendors for their events.
“We wanted to be able to offer services to clients at all price points,” says Hansen. “This helps us to expand our market and to be more relevant as a one-stop resource for anyone planning a party, wedding or social event.”
Hansen Group offers catering through four different brands, including:
- Bill Hansen Catering, the luxury brand Hansen founded 44 years ago, offering full-service catering and event planning.
- Alexander Event Catering, a full-service catering company with mid-tier pricing, which Hansen acquired two years ago.
- Lovables, a more budget-friendly brand acquired by Hansen four years ago, specializing in drop-off, buffet-style and small dinner catering.
- Eten Catering, a budget-friendly brand specializing in office and yacht drop-off catering, acquired by Hansen 2.5 years ago.
Expanding its catering operations has enabled Hansen Group to capture business it would have missed otherwise, says Ronald Kelly, Hansen Group’s director of sales. “Bill has built such a huge following in South Florida, with an incredible marketing arm,” says Kelly. As a result, leads would often come in that Bill Hansen Catering wasn’t a right fit for. Now, says Kelly, “we can activate those and put them to use.”
To operate its multiple brands, Hansen Group utilizes two commissaries—its original owned building in Miami-Dade County, now also home to Lovables; and a leased commissary in Broward County, north of Miami, for the Alexander and Eten brands. Corporate Executive Chef Dewey Losasso oversees the entire culinary team, while Valentina Pulido serves as the group’s chief operating officer.
Hansen Group employs about 90 full-time staffers, and hundreds more are on-call for events. “We made a concerted effort to hire our own people in lieu of using staffing agencies,” says Hansen. “We prefer working with our own people. We’ve really grown our team, having fun and focusing on delivering experiences that create memories for our clients and their guests.”
In addition to the four catering brands, Hansen Group offers a concierge service to couples and corporate clients to help them find the ideal vendors for their events—from photographers and DJs to valets and planners. Through its website Bill Hansen Miami Venues, the company recommends venues throughout South Florida to users who fill out a form with their event details.
“Everyone looks to us for advice, and we work with so many vendors that we get to know quality,” says Pulido. “If you have a question, a lot of us have years of experience—we can help.”
Hansen Group is also working on a website designed to appeal to younger clients who prefer to make purchases online—even for events. “We’re creating an Amazon-like shopping experience, where clients can select a venue, which goes in the shopping cart, then pick menus, then floral designs, and so on,” says Hansen. “They can do everything online if they choose to. High-tech will never replace high-touch, but without high-tech, you limit your potential for high-touch.”
While he doesn’t have imminent plans to expand the company further, Hansen foresees more growth. “We are ripe for another merger or acquisition,” he says. “Perhaps next year.”
For more information, visit hansengroup.co.