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Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin Ashton

Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin AshtonFounding partner Robin Ashton, president and publisher, is a true industry veteran in spite of is boyish appearance, he's covered foodservice since 1978, and E&S exclusively since 1982, as an editor and publisher at several magazines.

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Here’s To The FSTC!

May 01, 2012

One of the most important institutions in this business turns 25 this year. We can say without exaggeration that no organization has had a more positive effect on the foodservice equipment and supplies business than the Food Service Technology Center. The dream of Betty Davis at Pacific Gas & Electric and managed by Don Fisher and Judy Nickel since its founding, the FSTC painstakingly created the foundation for the scientific analysis of foodservice equipment and facilities efficiency and performance. Now operated under contract to the four investor-owned utilities in California—Southern California Gas, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric in addition to PG&E—it continues to push the envelope every day. And they’ve done all this while having a rip-roaring good time.

We at FER have been fortunate to count ourselves friends and co-conspirators from the very beginning. When we were at Cahners Publishing in the 1980s and ’90s, the FSTC and Cahners Foodservice Group  tried to launch a paid newsletter called Kitchen Monitor. It didn’t make it, but that created an opportunity for us when we founded FER.

Our first summer in ’96, before we’d even published a single issue, Brian Ward and I went out to see Don and Peter Turnbull, then the liaison to the FSTC from PG&E. We explained that one of the core missions of the new magazine was to push energy efficiency and technological development in foodservice equipment, since our subscribers were the multiunit operator facilities, engineering and purchasing folks driving such change. Everyone quickly saw that we could help each other. And so began an informal association that continues to this day.

Over the year’s we’ve co-sponsored  equipment bench tests, published articles on equipment test standards developed at the FSTC and relied on the Center for help and expertise on a host of issues. Don, Richard Young, David Zabrowski and others from the FSTC have been speakers and moderators at all our Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposia since our very first meeting in 2002. In turn, Brian and I have spoken on numerous occasions in San Ramon. The last couple years, Richard and I have undertaken the “California Utilities Rock Tour.”  Richard does the technology, I do the E&S market forecast. At least from our vantage point, it’s been a wonderful relationship and huge fun.

The FSTC will host a little party Aug. 1-3 to celebrate 25 years of service. We’ll be there. If you’d like information on the event, check the website at or e-mail Janel Rupp at jrupp(at) And while you’re at the website, notice all the wonderful tools they place at your disposal.


Robin Ashton

Robin Ashton



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