2020 Young Lion Award Winner: Dan Poulin
- Dan Poulin
- Vice President of Operations
- Pine Tree Food Equipment
- Gray, Maine
When a call came into Pine Tree Food Equipment last winter on a day with temperatures at -35°F, the customer got help not just from the service technician but also Dan Poulin, vice president of operations. “I don’t ever ask an employee to do something that I wouldn’t do myself, so I got in the van and went with him,” Poulin says.
Battling the elements and going on calls with technicians is just one example of Poulin’s hands-on approach to business that has helped Pine Tree Food Equipment grow and find continued success in the ever-changing foodservice industry.
The call involved a heat exchange on a roof; the result of Poulin’s initiative to add heat and air-conditioning services to the scope of business for Pine Tree Food Equipment. “I knew we were going to have to diversify in order to grow,” Poulin says.
Poulin’s growth strategy also includes forecasting goals based on company data. “I never thought I would be a spreadsheet guy, but these days I find myself pouring over data looking for places where our company can grow,” he says.
Armed with monthly, quarterly and yearly goals, Poulin has helped create an incentive plan to get the entire team at Pine Tree Food Equipment engaged and invested in the company’s growth. One example is awarding a gift card to technicians who add the most calls to their schedule. “The incentive program has helped improve our customer service by encouraging our guys to have a conversation with the customer and ask if there’s anything else they can do,” Poulin says. “It’s also a way for us to give back to our employees to share some of the growth we’ve experienced, and creates a competitive atmosphere where employees are personally engaged in the success of our company.”
“I don’t ever ask an employee to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.”
As Pine Tree Food Equipment’s business grows, so does its need for talented technicians. “A lot of people don’t think about foodservice as a career, but it’s important to get people in the pipeline to ensure a talented force of technicians in the future,” says Heather Price, executive director, CFESA. Poulin has helped improve the visibility of foodservice technicians as a career choice by representing CFESA at trade shows. He also goes out to local community colleges and makes presentations to classes.
Once a technician is hired, Poulin is hands-on with training. “Dan realizes the importance of investing in people, paying for their training and taking an interest in their career,” Price says. “When he sends technicians to the CFESA training center for certifications he calls on a daily basis to ask how they’re doing and provide support.
“Dan started out as a technician and is now a vice president. He’s a perfect example of what you can achieve, and not only that, he’s relatable,” Price says. “He embraces the day-to-day mentoring that breeds success.”