FER Industry Service Awards
Good things happen when everyone works together. Each of the FER 2019 Industry Service Award recipients have volunteered their time and professional skills to the industry for years and in many ways, from serving on association boards and committees to participating on judging panels and doing volunteer work. They have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers to make a positive, lasting impact. And they do it all with passion, modesty and kindness.
The results are impressive. As part of FEDA, Brad Pierce, President, Restaurant Equipment World, worked with others to create a vision of bringing the five families of foodservice closer together. He mentors young professionals, too. Eric Norman, FCSI, V.P.-Mid-West Division at Clevenger Associates, who has made supporting young talent in the industry his trademark, played an integral role in setting up a committee for emerging consultants at FCSI. Pierce and Norman are past FER Young Lion Award recipients.
Recognizing the need for rep firms and manufacturers to better manage and track business, Mike McGuire, Managing Partner, Zink Foodservice Group, helped kickstart the Orgo Foodservice Sales Engine project at MAFSI. And Wayne Stoutner, CEO, Duffy’s-AIS, armed with a business background, helped spearhead plans for a world-class headquarters and training facility for CFESA. Jeff Cook, previously on the manufacturing side, was part of the team that developed the clamshell griddle. Now Senior Director Global Equipment, McDonald’s Corp., Cook supports new technology in the industry by serving as an NRA Kitchen Innovations Awards judge, among many other volunteer activities. He is known for his accessibility and willingness to find solutions, together.
Even though serving the industry— all while managing a day job—has brought many of the five award recipients lasting friendships, opened job opportunities and landed solutions to industry issues, at the end of the day it’s clear generosity is in their blood. All of them give back outside the industry, to charities, foundations and other great causes.
FER sends a special thank you to CFESA, FCSI, FEDA and MAFSI for helping choose four Industry Service Award winners. FER staff members choose the fifth award, presented to an operator. Buy your ticket now to the FER Industry Excellence Awards, Sunday, May 19, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago, where FER will honor the Industry Service Award recipients along with the Young Lion and Management Excellence honorees. For tickets, go to fermag.com/FER_Industry_Awards.
Industry Service Awards
Brad Pierce, Restaurant Equipment World
Eric Norman, FCSI, Clevenger Associates
Mike McGuire, Zink Foodservice Group
Wayne Stoutner, Duffy’s-AIS
Jeff Cook, McDonald’s Corp.
Restaurant Equipment World
Years In Industry: 28
Industry Affiliations: FEDA: Board Chairman, President, V.P., Convention Chairman
Awards: CFESA Outstanding Support From an Allied Association/Industry Partner, NAFEM Doctorate of Foodservice, Angel Flight Southeast Pilot of the Year Honoree, FER Young Lion
Volunteer Endeavors: Valencia College Foundation, Board Member; Stetson University Family Enterprise, Board Member; Homeland Security Emergency Transport HSEATS Pilot; Angel Flight Pilot; Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout; Florida State University Jim Moran Institute Fellow
Brad Pierce, President, Restaurant Equipment World, Orlando, Fla., is like the guy in the Dos Equis ad campaign, according to Brad Wasserstrom, President of the Wasserstrom Co., Columbus, Ohio, and a FER 2017 Industry Service Award winner. “I call him the most interesting man in foodservice.”
Pierce is in constant motion. He runs a family-owned business started by his father in 1976, and has created more than a half-dozen companies of his own, from online equipment sales to corporate investigations, and defense contracting to public speaking and aircraft leasing.
About the only time he stops moving is when he has to make an emergency landing in the airplane he’s piloting, something he’s done twice. The first time, he was flying a cancer patient to New Orleans as a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight when the plane had a mechanical failure. As the plane went down, Pierce had to avoid numerous high power lines and highway overpasses to safely land.
Though the incident put him off flying for a while, it couldn’t keep him down. He’s since flown relief supplies to disaster victims in places as far-flung as Haiti, and patients or transplant organs to hospitals numerous times, all on his own time and at his own expense.
Pierce also uses his plane to service both customers and the industry, which allows him to do more in less time. “I call it doing business at the speed of flight,” he says. “Last week I traveled 4,200 miles; on commercial airlines, that would have taken me three weeks to get where I needed to go. When someone asks when I can come look at their operation, I answer, ‘What time today or tomorrow will work for you?’”
Pierce has always been a self-starter. He created his first company at 13 in middle school selling computer equipment, and got his first formal job at 16. But he was always expected to help out the family business.
He developed his first website in college to sell the company’s equipment and supplies online. The site built traction, so after graduation he joined the family business full-time to grow the online division. Early on, a customer in the Middle East ordered 1,500 equipment-and-supply items worth $2 million from the website and said they’d send two Boeing 747s in a week to pick up the order. “I didn’t know filling the order was supposed to be impossible,” Pierce says, “so I thrived on the challenge.”
His innovative thinking and quick response earned him a lot of subsequent business, especially from the U.S. military, which needs supplies delivered to many far-flung places. Learning and understanding the logistics involved led Pierce to start yet another company that specializes in rapid procurement and delivery of supplies for disaster and conflict areas, as well as his volunteer efforts as a Homeland Security Emergency Transport pilot.
He’s also given back as much or more to the industry he loves. “I grew up around FEDA members, and there have always been people there to help me, mentor me, and cheer me on,” he says. “My volunteer efforts started with small things like visiting the FEDA office during the NRA show and bringing the staff a bag of treats.” From there, he took a 14-year journey with the organization, only recently stepping down from the post of board chairman.
“He was right behind me on the executive board at FEDA,” says Wasserstrom. “He was ‘the other Brad’ until I officially passed the torch and became the other Brad, and he retired from the board as ‘The Brad.’ He’s always been someone I can call to talk through issues.”
The two Brads and incoming FEDA President Joe Schmitt, President, Rapids Wholesale Equipment, Marion, Iowa, (and *FER* 2015 Management Excellence Award recipient), worked on creating a vision of bringing the “five families” of foodservice, comprised of dealers, consultants, manufacturers’ reps, manufacturers and service agents, closer together.
“He wants everyone to work together,” says Chuck Day, President of Manning Brothers Food Equipment Co., Athens, Ga., “and he wants everyone to survive. We’re all in business to provide service and make a profit, but Brad believes in holding people accountable— he wants everyone to be professional, honest and straightforward. He’s an altruistic guy who doesn’t seem to have a bad day ever, or if he does, he doesn’t show it.”
For all his exuberance and excitement about most things, Pierce loves nothing more than to introduce himself to young people who don’t know anyone at a conference and talk to them. He also mentors about half a dozen young people around the country he’s met.
His biggest challenge, he says, has been trying to affect change and get people to think differently. “We’re getting some really sharp younger people in the industry who get it and want to help implement change. Ultimately, this business is both high-tech and high-touch. I’m excited about both, but I’m most proud of helping people any way they need it. I love the people in this industry above all else.”
FCSI, V.P.-Mid-West Division
Years In Industry: 19
Industry Affiliations: FCSI: FCSI Academy, World Wide Task Force-Chair; Young Member Forum (C4EC, Committee for Emerging Consultants), Past Chair, Chairman, Founding Member; Bylaws and Governance Task Force; Conference Planning and Steering Committee; Nashville Conference Planning Committee; Phoenix Conference Planning Committee Chairman; Kansas City Conference Planning Committee; FCSI-The Americas Board of Trustees, Secretary, Chair-Elect
Awards: FER Young Lion, FCSI World Wide Service Award
Eric Norman has had big shoes to fill. The 19-year consulting veteran and V.P.-Mid-West Division at Clevenger Associates, Asbury, Iowa, Norman is the son of industry legend Ed Norman, FFCSI, founder of MVP Services Group, a former board chairman of FCSI-The Americas, and both a NAFEM and MAFSI Award of Merit recipient. Ed also is a FER 2013 Industry Service Award recipient.
“Big shoes, but Ed’s not afraid to have someone fill them,” says Wade Koehler, Executive Director of FCSI-The Americas. “Eric has been immersed in the foodservice arena for most of his life, and he has a real knack for it. He loves it.”
The younger Norman knew as a high school student that he wanted to get into the business—his first job was at a Dairy Queen—so when his father asked if he’d be interested in consulting, Norman answered by doubling up on his education—attending college to study business and attending community college to learn CAD drawing and design. At 18, he joined FCSI. Since then, his career has taken off.
“A consultant has to be a politician, a plumber, an electrician, a dreamer, and a great listener,” says Chris Merritt, Iowa rep for Midwest Professional Reps, Eureka, Mo. “Eric has flourished. He not only understands the basic building blocks, but he always wants to take a project to the next level. He listens carefully to what clients want and does his best to deliver even more.”
“He not only listens,” says Jack Scott, Senior V.P.-Sales, Alto-Shaam, Menomonee Falls, Wis., “he’s a hog for learning. He loves to hear about and understand new technology and ideas, and he searches out what’s best for clients.”
His extensive knowledge of the industry and desire to go beyond what’s expected has led both to big projects and to repeat business from a number of clients.
“I’ve worked with Eric for 10 years on different projects,” says Joann Franck, Foodservice Director, Food and Nutrition Services, Dubuque Community School District, Dubuque, Iowa. “We have six kitchens, 20 different feeding sites and 11,000 students. Last year he helped us with a complete renovation of the high school cafeteria and kitchen. We started demolition in April and reopened in August. He’s a very good resource for me.”
Norman’s youth and enthusiasm, along with his interest in what’s new and thirst for knowledge has led to his drive to inject those characteristics back into the industry he loves.
“When I first joined FCSI, I saw my dad giving back to the organization,” he says. “At the second conference I attended, I noticed a real lack of young people, and made it my mission to get young people involved.”
He looked for opportunities to volunteer, and soon was approached by the board to join a group of young members tasked with developing outreach programs to encourage the next generation of consultants to get involved. They developed the ICON Committee to Inspire Consultants through Opportunity and Networking, and it morphed into FCSI’s Committee For Emerging Consultants.
The committee organizes events at FCSI conferences and conducts outreach on college and university campuses with branches of FCSI student organizations so they get volunteer experience as they move up in the organization.
“It’s really about networking,” Norman says, “about making younger members feel comfortable. We also network with FEDA, MAFSI and NAFEM members to foster communication among the younger members of those groups. Some of those people have become lifelong friends after being ‘green’ in the industry when we first started the committee.
“The network I’ve built has been one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do,” he says. “I met Brent Hall at Clevenger in Seattle through FCSI and networking, and our work together on the board led to conversations about merging our companies.”
Along with the dearth of young people at the initial FCSI conferences he attended, Norman also noticed a distinct lack of fun, something he’s worked hard to reverse. As a member of multiple conference planning committees, he injected both a sense of humor and opportunities for members to let loose and socialize more while continuing to focus on education and forward thinking.
“Our goofy opening conference videos were his idea,” Koehler says, “and they set a bar to be met. In Phoenix, as planning committee chair, he did away with the formal banquet that had become stale and brought in a mechanical bull and a tequila tasting. The well-attended Phoenix conference helped us through some difficult financial times, and many long-time members realized afterward how much they’d missed the fun in the association.”
Norman likes to hike, fish, and camp with family and play golf in the summer, or snowboard in the winter when he has free time. But he has just as much fun dabbling with new technology like virtual reality for his business, serving on the FCSI board, or educating people in the industry with his “Rock Your Restaurant” videos with Bill Bender, founder and Principal of W.H. Bender & Associates, San Jose, Calif., for the Foodable Network.
“Guys like Eric are at the cutting edge of design on big projects, so we like to stay on top of what they’re doing,” says Alto-Shaam’s Scott. “It helps us stay relevant.”
CFSP, CPMR, Managing Partner
Zink Foodservice Group
Years In Industry: 31
Industry Affiliations: MAFSI: Board of Directors, President, V.P., Treasurer, Mid-America Scholarship Chairman
Awards: NAFEM Doctorate of Foodservice
Volunteer Efforts: Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund Central Ohio Promise Ball Annual Sponsor (with wife, Tracey, in honor of daughter Maggie, diagnosed in 2006); Buckeyes FORE Cancer Research (with Zink FSG, Jim Zink and Tracey); Make-A-Wish Foundation $50,000 Event Sponsor for three families’ wishes (with Tracey and friends)
Ask anyone who knows Mike McGuire, Managing Partner, Zink Foodservice Group, Columbus, Ohio, what his passion is, and that person will likely tell you it’s making sure that things get done right to the satisfaction of all parties, whether it’s a business deal, an equipment installation, or a charity fundraising event.
“I’ve worked with Mike for 23 years,” says Jack Staples, National Sales Manager, Federal Industries, Belleville, Wis., “and he’s always been a very generous person at finding a way for everyone to win.”
“Mike is a brass-tacks kind of guy,” says Mark Green, CFSP, Principal, C&T Design & Equipment Co., Indianapolis. “When a lot of things are flying around, he sees to the heart of the matter and how to get things done. He has a unique perspective—he cares, which is why he jumps into things. He’s seen the results of trying and believes it’s worth the effort.”
McGuire’s ability to create win-win solutions stems not only from his profession, in which he seeks to serve and please both customers and clients, but also from a desire to improve the way in which he and all those around him succeed—in business and relationships, both personally and professionally.
Harold “Skip” Zink, McGuire’s father-in-law, asked Mike if he’d like to join his team at Zink FSG back in 1988. McGuire jumped at the opportunity and moved to Indianapolis to represent the company’s clients there. Right off the bat, he recognized the nature and needs of his job.
“We’ve been working with Zink for 30-plus years,” says Maria Gardina, Director of Facilities and Purchasing, Bob Evans Restaurants, Columbus, “and started working with Mike as soon as he moved to Columbus. They’re one of the few rep groups we rely on to help us work directly with equipment manufacturers because of their integrity. They go above and beyond and hold the customer’s needs above all else. But they’re fair to both manufacturers and customers.”
“We had a range delivered to a local restaurant,” says Steve Klug, V.P., Restaurant Equippers, Columbus. “It had a lot of problems, so Mike went out and personally helped the owner solve his problem. He’s very hands-on and customer oriented, and he thinks outside the box.”
“Manufacturers’ reps are both the least expensive and best way for equipment makers to bring products to market,” McGuire says. “What manufacturers need in the rep function is a true professional, and MAFSI is the organization that helps develop and promote that professionalism. That’s why I got involved in MAFSI in the early 2000s. In a typical rep company the biggest challenge is managing information. They really need a system to support manufacturers.”
McGuire saw that if MAFSI and manufacturers’ reps themselves were to continue to have relevance, they needed to become more professional and more efficient in the way they conduct business. And he believed that a customer relationship management program could help.
“We had our own CRM system at Zink,” McGuire says, “but I thought it was great that a company like Orgo [rep sales tracking, management and evaluation program, Aurora, Colo.] was willing to come in to MAFSI and create a program for smaller rep firms of eight to 10 people. I helped put a team of rep firms together to negotiate with Orgo, and get the project approved and supported within MAFSI. We had to convince many members that the software wouldn’t just help other rep firms compete but that it would help all reps be more professional and give better market information back to manufacturers.”
With their knowledge of the market and insight, McGuire and Zink have looked ahead to see what will help their own organization perform better. Concerned about consolidation in the industry, they found strategic partners and formed an alliance with four companies. Called Paradigm, the group of companies operate with the same CRM, the same marketing platform, but cover more territory and now install equipment as well.
“Mike’s vision for the role of the manufacturers’ rep in the foodservice industry was instrumental in the development of Paradigm; this initiative has inspired many reps to create similar alignments and created a stronger sense of community in our channel,” says Chris Jeens, Partner at W.D. Colledge Co. Ltd. And MAFSI President.
Zink FSG also developed a transition strategy more than a year ago and created an employee stock ownership plan as a way of passing the torch to the next generation and giving employees a stake in their own future. “We think it was a smart way to get young people in on the ground floor of a growing business,” McGuire says. He and Zink also brought several members of the next generation onto the executive leadership team and see a bright future for the organization.
In his spare time, McGuire also actively volunteers time and/or donations to the charity organizations that Zink FSG supports with contributions or sponsorships.
Years In Industry: 35
Industry Affiliations: CFESA: Treasurer, Board Member
Volunteer Endeavors: Boy Scouts of America; Little League; Project Healing Waters
Wayne Stoutner, CEO, Duffy’s-AIS, Rochester, N. Y., likes to work hard and play hard. Since one of his passions is tournament fishing both in New York and Florida, he often takes customers, business associates and friends out on Lake Ontario in his charter fishing boat.
“He is a very happy person,” says David Hahn, Owner, FESCO-Tennessee, Knoxille, Tenn., “and he always wants to make sure those around him are comfortable and having a good time.”
What Stoutner doesn’t mention is that at least once a year, through Project Healing Waters, he takes military veterans out on one of those fishing excursions.
“In our business, we always give vets the first look when hiring,” says long-time business partner and Duffy’s-AIS V. P. Paul Glowacki. “This past summer, one guy’s wife had cancer, and Wayne said, ‘You guys have had it tough,’ and offered them his house in Florida for a week.”
Stoutner got his first taste of the industry as a dishwasher in his parents’ restaurant at 13, and in high school as a shift supervisor at a Pizza Hut. He and Glowacki met in a college accounting course. After graduation, Stoutner was working In another restaurant when Glowacki walked in. During their ensuing conversation, Glowacki asked him if he’d ever consider working for an equipment service company.
Stoutner ended up joining Appliance Installation & Service, where Glowacki was the service manager. In 1992, he became the company’s assistant service manager, and in 2002 he bought out the owner.
“After I purchased the business,” he says, “a lot of people I know said I should get involved with CFESA and run for the board. I got on the board a few years later and became treasurer. Eventually, I felt I could give back some of my unique skills that might be helpful to others.”
An example of his characteristic modesty, the statement belies his true accomplishments at CFESA in his 10 years as treasurer.
“CFESA almost became irrelevant 10 years ago,” Hahn says. “We got on the board at about that time, and Wayne brought the organization back to prominence and relevance.”
Stoutner’s business background and common sense made him ask questions, like why CFESA was renting space in a strip mall instead of owning its own headquarters building, or how he could help smaller company members do a better job of understanding their costs so they could operate more profitably.
Ultimately, he made his case to both the CFESA board and membership, spearheading plans for a world-class headquarters and training facility. He helped shepherd the project through every step of the design/build process. Then, with his business acumen, he helped the organization invest its funds in financial instruments that helped pay for the new building.
Stoutner’s vision didn’t stop there, however. “In his 10 years on the CFESA board, he’s invested his personal time and money into improving the membership’s professionalism,” says Bill Keith, V.P. of Project Management, BHS Food Service Solutions, Buffalo, N.Y. “He was the first service technician in North America certified to teach service technicians how to install foodservice equipment.”
“I serve as one of the two CFESA installation trainers,” Stoutner says. “We set the certification standards for equipment installation, and CFESA has trained 60 people in about 35 companies who are now certified in equipment installation.”
Applying the same rigor and common sense to his own business, Stoutner engineered the merger of three companies— Duffy’s Equipment Service, Appliance Installation & Service and Express Commercial Services—into one company that can install and service equipment across all of upstate New York.
“The companies together can fix anything and cover more territory,” Keith says. “That’s good for me and companies like mine. Wayne’s a good businessman and partner. We’ve been on jobs where we’ve put up walk-ins together. I never even think a problem isn’t going to be taken care of when I work with his company. As a subcontractor, they make sure we look good.”
Locally, Stoutner and the company support two upstate New York Boy Scout summer camps. The company also supports Little League and soccer teams, as well as donates kitchen equipment and repair services to churches and other charities.
Stoutner, though, is most proud of the work he’s done for CFESA. “What you get back from these organizations is well worth the small effort you put in. I’ve built a network of people I never would have met if I hadn’t spent time volunteering. Prior to our merger, I reached out to the CEO of a very large kitchen equipment parts and service company and asked for advice, and he said he’d love to chat and spent more than an hour on the phone with me. He even referred me to others in his organization who could help answer my questions.
“If it weren’t for my involvement in CFESA and the four meetings I attend each year,” he continues, “I might not have traveled to some really wonderful places. And the combination of spending time with peers and industry folk and traveling to and relaxing in some unique locations really has been a highlight of my career.”
Senior Director Global Equipment
Years In Industry: 39
Industry Affiliations: NRA Kitchen Innovations Awards Judge; NAFEM Data Protocol Sub-Committee; AGA/CGA Harmonized Standards Committee
Volunteer Endeavors: Ronald McDonald House Charities; SOS Children’s Charities; Festival Of The Flutes; Taste Of Coral Springs
Jeff Cook, Senior Director Global Equipment, McDonald’s Corp., Romeoville, Ill., sums up his life and career in bits of wisdom, the mantras he’s collected over the years. Not because what’s he’s accomplished or how he’s lived is simplistic but because he moves, thinks and speaks so quickly that he has little time for anything superfluous. Besides, those aphorisms have real meaning. Like the job title he playfully lists on his LinkedIn page— “Head Engineering Wizard” at the “Coolest Job on Earth.”
“Know your adjacencies,” is one lesson he spouts. He goes on to tell the story of how an engineering team he led at Garland could account for every second a McDonald’s hamburger spent in a store from the moment it came in the back door from a supplier to the moment it came off the griddle. But no one could tell him what happens to the buns those burgers are served on.
“Jeff flourished in those multi-specialty task force meetings,” recalls David McCulloch, semi-retired former president of Garland. “He’s very likable, friendly, open to suggestions, and over time the team talked like one company, not customer and supplier. That’s the only time I saw that happen in the industry.”
McCulloch set up a separate division for the product Cook’s team developed—the clamshell griddle—and named Cook its g. m. The roll-out was supposed to be slow and measured, but once word got out, demand was so high the griddle went global overnight, and sales went from $0 to $20 million in 18 months.
Not that he planned it this way, but Cook’s career has taken him from the manufacturing side of the business to distribution and the operations side. “That supplier-distributor-customer viewpoint makes my experience somewhat unique,” he says, “and what I think I’ve done is ignite the voice of the customer.” (Another mantra: “The voice of the customer is everything.”)
Cook has always loved finding solutions that leave all sides winners. “Jeff really sees how equipment is used in the real world,” says John Reckert, Nothing Bundt Cakes franchisee and former senior v.p. of engineering, development and quality assurance at Burger King. “When we worked together, he aligned himself with operations and manufacturers to make sure everyone understood the problems engineering needed to address, but also knew that ROI for franchisees was extremely important. He encouraged people, especially suppliers, to think outside the box. Taken all together, he designed elegant solutions.”
Cook strives to be an innovator (mantra: whoever tries the most things wins), and nudges people into thinking about “wild innovation versus incremental improvement.” He sees technology as a means to that end, and is excited about the increasing pace of advancements.
“I’d like to think that I pushed the envelope a bit,” he says. “Every day you add improvement to a product is a day you push old technology out. But my biggest challenge is moving our supply partners from taking technology, putting it in a box and trying to sell me the box to using technology to solve my problems with a holistic view of the restaurant.”
His well-rounded perspective of all sides of the industry comes from insatiable curiosity (what he calls “away-from-your-desk engineering”) and a genuine desire to make not only operations easier for restaurants but better for all those around him (mantra: get out and do something). His fun-loving, friendly and empathetic personality has helped him accomplish that.
“My mission in life is to live with integrity and have a positive influence on the lives of those I contact,” he says. (Mantra: “Treat the next minute like it’s a gift in life.”) “Make time for people. Form relationships. Take advantage of moments. Don’t just walk around the NRA show floor and look; talk to people. Nice guys can win. It’s about people and relationships; if you strengthen them you can tap into all kinds of things from lasting friendships to job opportunities. And when you have trust, you have a partnership that’s willing to take more chances, which results in great success.”
Cook is passionate about bringing more young people and innovation into the industry. “I was once the bright young thing,” he says. “Now I’m an old salt. We have to make the industry exciting to pull new young people in, and technology is the way to do that.”
To help innovation, he’s served on the NRA Kitchen Innovations Awards judging panel for several years. “I love being a part of the KI Awards and seeking out what’s new and creative. We’re seeing more from a lot of small companies, which should bode well for the industry. But adoption of new technology is slow, and it has to be technology that matters to help the operator.”
Brian Ward, Fe3, Target Market & Media Services, Murfreesboro, Tenn., who works with Cook on the KI judging says, “He’s always a constructive presence during judging discussions. He volunteers insights, makes suggestions. Willing to share, always.”
“Some of the best advice I ever heard was at a spa convention,” says Cook. “Ram Charan gave a presentation and said if you want to be successful, find someone’s pain and fix it.”