"I've also learned that everyone wants to have input and control over some aspect of their work and company standards," Carlson continues. "We try to structure teams with complementary skills. Some people are fast workers, others are more deliberate, but together we make a great team. Since no one can be an expert on everything we developed our Expert in the Room program so everyone gets to pick several types of equipment, construction specialties or industry trends based on their interests." At that point, Robert Rippe associates work in small teams to complete projects successfully.
Carlson has translated that love of nurturing other team members to his involvement in FCSI. Thanks to his own unique educational path, Carlson has led FCSI's educational foundation for six years, during which time he's helped raise countless scholarship funds for inspiring kitchen designers at high-ranking restaurant and hospitality schools across the country.
"That's a constant issue in our association — knowing where to send employees to get them trained in this niche area," Carlson says. "Basically there are two ways to recruit new people: one is right out of college and the other is hoping you find someone with a lot of experience."
In recent years, Carlson has been particularly active in supporting the building information modeling community as the new wave of building design.
- Name: Steve Carlson, FCSI, LEED AP
- Title: Principal, Robert Rippe & Associates Inc.
- Hometown: Appleton, Wis.
- Current Town: Minneapolis
- Hobbies: Cross-country skiing, fly-fishing, kayaking, golf and other outdoor sports
- First Foodservice Job: Dishwasher, 1972
- Best Meals Ever: Vetri in Philadephia (1999) and El Cellar Can Roca in Girona Spain (2008)
- Current Hometown Favorite: Haute Dish
- Favorite Cocktail Lounges: Clio in Boston (Todd Maul first introduced me to craft cocktails); Bar Tender in Ginza, Tokyo; The Marvel Bar in Minneapolis
- Favorite Cities for Food: Chicago and Minneapolis
- Turning Point Projects: Mystic Lake Buffet & Harrah’s Cherokee Buffet, University of Iowa Burge Hall, University of Wisconsin Gordon Commons and Lakeshore; The Methodist Hospital in Houston University of Wisconsin Hospital
- Favorite cities and countries visited: Spain, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Japan
- Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison