Foodservice Equipment Reports

You Gotta Have Friends

Our partner Ken Gill and we were joking the other day about how people-oriented the equipment and supplies world is. Ken is fond of saying it’s a huge business that’s a very small town. We sometimes say it’s a few thousand people calling on a few thousand other people and many folks change sides somewhere in their careers.

This all came up because our friend Rich Gleitsmann, who retired several years ago after heading ITW’s Food Equipment Group and Hobart Corp., has just been named interim president of Scotsman Ice. We knew he was looking around for a consulting job after decompressing at his home on the Oregon coast. Guess he found a big job. We’re happy to have him back.

But it’s not just on the manufacturing and channel sides. One of the fun aspects of putting together our Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposium every couple years is catching up with our chain friends. By the time you read this, we’ll have just spent three days with 50 of so of them in Austin, Texas. And we talked and exchanged e-mails with hundreds more. At MUFES, we love to see the interaction of the suppliers and chain E&S specialists; they spend a lot of time together.

Often, during the course of careers, our chain friends move to the manufacturer or channel side. Bill Hallett, formerly of McDonald’s, works for Manitowoc Foodservice. Dave Brewer, formerly of Yum!, works for Middleby Corp. Both helped us create MUFES, by the way. Our long-time friend Kevin Golden, late of Dunkin’ Brands and Au Bon Pain, heads a manufacturers’ rep firm in New England. Rocky Brock, formerly head equipment guy at Applebees, is a principal at Heartland Reps in Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis. And we just talked with our friend Kent Kelso, who helped grow P.F. Chang’s and has been working for Landry’s. He’s just left to join one of his textile suppliers based in Salt Lake City and help him run the business.

It’s not exactly like the much maligned “revolving door” in federal, state and local governments. But it operates on the same principle: People do business with friends because it’s more fun and there is an element of trust built up over years. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

And speaking of friends, we want to mention the passing of George Hohl Jr., CEO of The Salvajor Co., on the last day of 2011. We had just had lunch with George in mid-November in Kansas City, Mo. He was a wonderful, remarkably warm man and a generous, talented businessman. His sons have already taken the business into its third generation. We offer his family, colleagues and friends our sympathies. We’re grateful we knew him and will miss him.

And because his passing is a reminder that one never knows, why not pick up the phone and call one of your customer or supplier friends today? Just to say hello and how are you?


Robin Ashton


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