Dan Farmer, Strategic Director of Business Development, Fixxbook, Inc., Albertson, N.Y.
From restaurant manager to service agent, Dan Farmer has spent much of his working life in the foodservice world. Now, as strategic director of business development for Fixxbook, Inc., he strives to propel the industry forward using technology.
Farmer, winner of FER’s Young Lion Award—Service Agent, spends his days helping develop software for the foodservice industry. As strategic director of business development for Fixxbook, Inc., he also identifies and develops new partnerships, provides educational webinars and gives presentations at industry meetings.
Farmer recently served on the board of directors for the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA), a highlight of his career.
Farmer joined Fixxbook in May 2012. Owned by ServiceChannel, the company serves as a directory for facility managers of more than 25,000 contractors defined by trade, including foodservice equipment repair. Another project in the works involves a QR code for kitchen equipment that identifies authorized service agents in the user’s area.
“Technology has the capability to bring information in a very direct manner, but it still needs input to work correctly,” he says. “That’s what we’re working on.”
Farmer has spent much of his working life in the foodservice industry. (His very first job was scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.) After graduating high school and spending a small stint as a college student, he joined the U.S. Navy. He served four years in the military and returned to civilian life as a restaurant manager for Burger King, followed by Applebee’s. After working long hours, including on nights and weekends, he went back to college to earn his degree and find a career with a better work/family balance. In 2000, he graduated from California State University, San Bernardino, Calif.
Farmer says his understanding of technology combined with his grip on old-school communication styles, has helped him succeed. “I was fortunate to enter college later in life and get on the first wave of technology in the classroom, but I am still grounded in the traditional means of communication and face-to-face interaction,” he says.
After college, Farmer joined Commercial Parts & Service, a Cincinnati-based commercial-kitchen equipment-repair company. He started in the parts department and worked his way up to director of business development. A high-energy person, Farmer was known to enter the service department on a Monday morning and start doing pushups, just to motivate his coworkers.
“I try to catch people off guard and put a smile on their face,” he says.
While at Commercial Parts & Service, Farmer became involved in various facets of the industry. In 2007, he was designated a Level 1 Certified Foodservice Professional. Additionally, he served on the CFESA board of directors from 2009-2012 and co-chaired the association’s marketing committee.
“I’ve had the luxury of working with a lot of great people and I think that did me the biggest service in the world,” he says. “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.”
When asked what advice he would give newbies to the industry, Farmer has two words: get involved.
“Take advantage of every opportunity,” he says. “Your voice matters and the more you use it, the more it gets heard.”
In his personal life, Farmer takes great pride in his eight-year marriage to his wife, April, and their 6-year-old daughter, Emerson, and 2-year-old son, Liam.
He adds that he loves to spend time at home making a stellar chili. “I grow my own ingredients, and I do a chili cook-off every year,” he says.
At work, Farmer gains a sense of satisfaction when he’s had a contract signed by a new partner or when the team he works with launches a new product. But he says that, while it’s important to recognize success, “if you spend too much time patting yourself on the back, you’ll lose that contract next time around or lose sight of the next big idea.”
As for the future, Farmer looks forward to how technology will further the industry. “There’s so much coming up. That’s why I was excited about this new opportunity,” he says about Fixxbook.
He adds that companies must embrace technology to survive. “Chain business has become so prevalent and software such a big part of how companies communicate, one simply can’t function or exist for very long without embracing technology and making it a part of their business,” he says. “If you don’t know how to speak that language, you’re going to be left behind.”