Foodservice Equipment Reports

More Good Market News, But Another Friend Passes

When it comes to the outlook for the equipment and supplies market, the good news keeps piling up. But we also had a shock over the weekend, when we learned our good friend Lew Burns, who formerly ran Groen and then several divisions of Dover Corp., passed away suddenly.

First the good news. I flew out to Denver last week to give a forecast update to the dealer members of NAFED. Pulling together the latest data for the update, it became apparent that the positive indicators are certainly outweighing the negatives. For example, most of the public companies had a pretty good third quarter. As a group, sales for the five equipment companies rose 4.8%. The seven companies we follow saw combined sales rise 3.2%. This is all pretty much in line with our current forecast of 3.3% nominal growth this year. Not a gangbuster year, but still a positive one.

Our friends at Technomic sent us their latest forecast revisions for operator sales. They revised the nominal down a bit—2013 nominal sales are now pegged at 3%, down from 3.8% in the May revision—but the real growth rates have held, at 1% this year and 1.3% next year.

We read in Nation’s Restaurant News a.m. this morning that chain operator same-store sales and traffic improved in October versus stats in October 2012. Same-store sales rose 2.5% and traffic was up 0.4%. While it was a month of easy comparisons since Hurricane Sandy hit in late October last year, the initial numbers from November also show improvement. This is good news because trends were negative over the summer. It seems consumers have shrugged off the federal government showdown, which also occurred during October.

There are some clouds on the horizon—more government shenanigans, rising beef prices and labor costs for operators—but overall it looks like the market should grow a bit faster next year.

A Few Words On Lew Burns

The news that Lew Burns, a prominent former executive in the foodservice equipment business and a friend to many in the industry, passed away in his sleep Sunday was a gut kick. He was a very smart man, a gruff old cuss and a close golfing buddy. He was a core member of the group with Ron Rosati, our partner Ken Gill, operator Mike Stack, Cliff Baggott, Harold Gernsbacher and others, who started the series of friendly golf outings that jelled into the annual Rosati Cup golf outing we stage every fall. If he liked you, he would give you the shirt off his back.

One very significant contribution he made to foodservice equipment was naming Louise O’Sullivan president at Groen in the 1980s, while he was overseeing the Dover division he had formerly run. Louise, who now owns and runs Prime Advantage, the manufacturer buying group, was one of the first (if not the first) female presidents of an E&S company who was not a family member.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 4-8 p.m. at Miller Funeral Home, 504 W. Main St., West Dundee. A celebration of Lew's life will be held on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church 900 S. Eighth Street (Route 31) in West Dundee. More information can be found at

Rest in peace, friend.


Robin Ashton


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