Foodservice Equipment Reports
Publisher's Viewpoint

Two More Who Matter

I wrote last month about the contributions of Mike Whiteley, V.P. of Sales and Marketing at Hatco, during his two years as NAFEM president. A few weeks ago, I wrote an editorial for FER Dealer Report (http://bit.ly/1Sucqbd) about the achievements of Brad Pierce of Restaurant Equipment World during his tenure as FEDA president, especially his championing of the FEDA Data Interchange. The FDI helps everyone from manufacturers through all the channels to the operator track the status and shipment of equipment. If you haven’t read the editorial, I urge you to do so. I know Brad will continue contributing to this business for years to come.

But today I must recognize the incredible contributions to their companies and the foodservice equipment business made by Mike Harlamert of KFC and Yum! Brands and Roy Hook of Wendy’s. Mike retired April 1 after 43 years at Yum! and KFC. Roy, having served Wendy’s for 38 years, will retire after this year’s NRA Show. The point here is they also served all of us. Both of them, in fact, earned FER Industry Services Awards—Roy in 2006 and Mike in ’13.

Mike started with KFC as a teenager, cooking chicken in a local store in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. He was promoted to assistant manager then unit manager and kept working for KFC as he went to engineering school at the University of Louisville. After college, he moved to corporate in the Big White House that was then KFC headquarters and spent nearly four decades helping engineer the chain’s equipment packages. His knowledge of operational issues at the store level was invaluable.

Later in his career at KFC, his specialty became control systems. He used that expertise as he became a key player on the NAFEM Customer Advisory Taskforce as it worked to develop the NAFEM Data Protocol, the electronic standard that allows foodservice equipment items to talk to each other and the operator. Just before he retired, he went back and worked in his original restaurant.

Wendy’s hired Roy, an engineer out of The Ohio State University, in 1978. Over nearly 36 years, he has worked on just about every aspect of Wendy’s kitchens. The current cooking platform is one of his designs. One of the key values his bosses have always found useful is his knowledge of how the equipment packages at Wendy’s have evolved over the years. When they conceive a new menu item, they can count on Roy to recall all the iterations of the kitchen design and equipment to see how the new item fits with the various packages.

Roy also was a long-time member of the NAFEM CAT, and like Mike, was a huge proponent of the Data Protocol. He told me over lunch a few weeks ago that one of his disappointments during his career is that more equipment manufacturers didn’t adopt the standard. He still thinks there is a huge opportunity for equipment communication.

Roy and Mike have been long-time supporters and champions of our Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposiums. All of us at FER consider them close personal friends. We wish them well in retirement and we’ll miss them, but we suspect they’ll be busy consulting for some time. We’re not letting them fade into the sunset. Thanks friends, from all of us.

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