Amador "AJ" Reyna, Jr. recalls being at a foodservice equipment show in the beginning of his career when a DSR of the Month sign caught his attention. "Since then, I've aspired to accomplish this," he says. "It was always very important to me."
Reyna jumped into the business when he was 19 with his friend, who had taken over his family's dealership in Toledo, Ohio. At that time, Reyna was finishing his degree at the University of Toledo. After graduating and working at Burkett Restaurant Equipment for five years, Reyna left the industry for about nine months to work at a logistics company.
Realizing he missed working in the foodservice industry, Reyna moved to New England five years ago and joined Restaurant Equipment Paradise as director of business development. He has a diverse book of business that includes independent operators and regional multi-concept operators.
FE&S: You are known for having a high-energy approach when it comes to working with your customers. How does that benefit your customers and company?
AR: Customers see that not only am I a sales person but I'm also excited about their vision and goal for the project. I'm inside the restaurant before equipment is even purchased, and my enthusiasm transfers to the operator. This shows customers that I'm not just about making a sale, but I'm also involved in the restaurant. I get excited and energetic, because I'm passionate about what I do, their ideas and my job.
FE&S: How does being bilingual help you work with your customers?
AR: Being bilingual helps me tremendously. When I moved to New England, a Spanish-speaking customer moved here, as well. We are similar in age, hit it off and built a relationship. He now has multiple locations. Speaking the same language helped foster our relationship as well as my dealings with his Spanish-speaking staff. Also, being close to New York, the number of Spanish-speaking customers is higher here than in other areas.
FE&S: You have a passion for working with projects from the ground up. What is it about starting with a blank slate that you like so much?
AR: I enjoy the freedom and creativity to make a kitchen the way that I want and the way the customer wants. We can work together to customize it. I like to stand with the customer side by side in the empty space and do a run through without equipment to see what we can accomplish.
FE&S: When something does not go as planned with a project, how do you approach the situation to get the plans back on track?
AR: First and foremost, it's important to use all of the tools and resources available to me. If there's a problem, there is a tool or resource to fix it, whether it's information from a rep or manufacturer, details from past jobs or old drawings.
FE&S: What keeps you working in the foodservice industry?
AR: I have a passion for restaurants and love creating them. I also enjoy the constant change of restaurant ideas and concepts, along with the new and innovative equipment. If I have customer that wants to try a different type of cooking, I can recommend a new piece of equipment that will be beneficial to their business.