Foodservice Equipment Reports

The Joy Of The Sales Call

This is my favorite time of year. Usually, from mid-August until before Christmas, my salespeople and I call on as many of our customers as physically possible. I get to do many enjoyable and rewarding things in this job, but none give me more pleasure. It’s even more fun this year, as I’m travelling with my daughter Emma, who has joined FER as a sales associate.

My friend, partner and V.P.-Sales Rich Chrampanis, to whom Emma reports, had the great idea of kicking off this year’s selling season with all three of us on a road trip in Ohio. It was a really fun week.

We started in Cleveland, where we visited Manitowoc’s Cleveland Range cooking equipment factory. V.P.- Products John Lanning gave Emma and Megan Hernandez, our Managing Editor who lives outside Cleveland, the full plant tour. I first visited that factory in 1982 and have been back many times since. It’s amazing how much has changed during those 33 years.

Then it was off to Mentor, Ohio, to see Cres Cor V.P. Mike Capretta. Mike was great in explaining to Emma why the foodservice market is so interesting: It’s just very, very complicated in the way products get to market, with reps, consultants and dealers (and their buying groups) all involved in one way or another. But as we did with all of our customers, we also went over Michael’s advertising and marketing goals and plans for 2016.

We then drove south and visited with Brenda Rice, Director-Marketing for ITW FEG’s cooking division at Hobart headquarters in Troy, Ohio. Emma calls on Baxter, one of the brands in the cooking division. Brenda is always very interested in the latest market data, so we went over the most recent trends. Then it was on to Eaton to see Jason Moles, Field Marketing Manager and our key contact at Henny Penny. After an in-depth discussion of HP’s plans for next year, Jason took us on a tour of the company’s office and training-facility expansion as well as a quick tour of the factory. This was all by Tuesday afternoon!

On Wednesday, we drove over to Columbus to see Ursula Vermillion, Executive V.P. at The Wasserstrom Co. Over lunch, we talked about all of the things Emma has done since joining the company in July. Then it was on to how strong markets, like the current one, create problems of their own; the state of smallwares and tabletop companies and sourcing; and program ideas for our Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposium next January.

On Thursday, we were in Dayton lunching with Bryan Librandi, Senior V.P., and Erik Koenig, Marketing Manager, at Heritage Foodservice. Bryan and Erik had met Emma in Chicago in July at our President’s Preview annual market forecast meeting, which Heritage sponsors. We focused on Heritage’s marketing targets, how their operations in Canada are doing and other topics.

After lunch, we headed down to Cincinnati to meet with Lindsay Wagner, Media Planner at gyro:, the big B-to-B ad agency that serves both Heritage and Hobart. We shared our discussions with Bryan and Erik; reviewed our new media information brochure, including the 2016 editorial calendar; discussed how our electronic media is working for Heritage and the like.

Four days, six cities and six customers. What makes this all so enjoyable is these folks are not just our customers, they’re our friends. It’s very rewarding to help them grow their businesses, to share what we know about the trends in the market, to look out over the horizon at what might be coming. We know what we know because so many of you have shared what you know with us all of these years.

This week it’s San Antonio for Emma and me, where we attend the Foodservice Design BootCamp and visit Ace Mart Restaurant Supply. Rich heads for Tennessee. Next week, Emma is going to New York “to learn what a rep does,” as our friend Michael Posternak at PBAC called it when he asked if Emma would like to come out. I head to Jackson, Miss., and points north. Then Emma and I fly to Southern California. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on our travels this fall.



Robin Ashton


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