Foodservice Equipment Reports

Serving Dealers

It’s true. We created Foodservice Equipment Reports for operators. Not that we haven’t always sent the magazine to dealers and distributors (and consultants and service agents). Heck, as most of you know, the Gill in Gill Ashton Publishing is a prominent dealer.

But the original idea Brian, Jennifer, Rich and I had back in 1996 was to serve the facilities, equipment and supplies specialists at chains and foodservice directors at big institutional operations. These folks, you folks, buy most of the E&S in North America, and now the world. We knew what you wanted: as much real comparison of E&S products and brands as possible. And someone to name names, brand-wise. It’s been our stock-in-trade ever since.

But the equipment and supplies market is dynamic. And business-to-business media markets are even more dynamic, especially the past couple years. Which in part explains why the company all of us at FER worked at for many years, Reed Business, shut down its four foodservice and lodging brands in April.

As we go to press, it appears Foodservice Equipment & Supplies and Hotels may be coming back. We hope so. We have friends with those publications, and we wish them well.

But the uncertainty prompted by these changes has impelled us in a direction we were already moving strategically. As we’ve written in this space several times during the past couple years, the dramatic downturn in foodservice has led many chains to cut back their new-unit development and capital-spending activities. This in turn has led many chains to outsource more of their facilities and E&S activities. Chain-oriented dealers have benefited from these changes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the balance of specifying power has shifted completely. Far from it. Most chains continue to set their own specs and to work directly with E&S manufacturers on new menu roll-outs, kitchen re-engineering programs and other major capital-goods activities. And these changes have affected primarily commercial foodservice operators. Noncommercial operators continue to work, often with the help of consultants, in much the same way they traditionally have.

Still, it makes strategic sense for us at FER and our related products to do more for and about dealers. Many of our dealer subscribers have already seen our new e-newsletter, FER Dealer Report. This newsletter features news exclusively for and about dealers and will be sent every two weeks. We will also be increasing our circulation into the dealer community with this newsletter. Quite frankly, we’ve been holding down our dealer circulation to maintain our 75% operator circulation ratio. With the new newsletter, we don’t need to do that. All of our subscribers also will see more news about dealers in the pages of FER

We have more ideas for expanding coverage of dealers, which we’ll announce in the coming months. In the meantime, we’ll do what we always try to do here: Serve the entire E&S community, both operators and channels, as usefully as we can.

Robin Ashton
Robin Ashton

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