Jack Mullins considers himself a foodservice industry lifer. He became a dishwasher in a restaurant at 16, and also served as a line cook at a steakhouse before rising through the ranks to become a restaurant manager.
After meeting his wife, who was a co-worker 36 years ago, Mullins decided to change the course of his career. "I wanted to get out of the nightlife of restaurant work and find a daytime job," he says.
Mullins had an 8-year stint with another E&S dealership, before joining Globe Equipment Co., where he's worked for more than 28 years. His clients include independent restaurants, country clubs and colleges.
Mullins is known for his thorough approach. Colleagues say he understands the products and their applications and, as a result, has a great rapport with his customers and supply chain partners.
FE&S: You are known for helping your customers design their operations, even consulting with them to ensure a good flow through the kitchen. What are some key elements of a well-designed foodservice operation?
JM: I like to match the menu with the cooking equipment. I want to make sure they have proper dry and refrigerated storage to accommodate their needs and make them aware that, if the menu changes, equipment can change. The setup has to be flexible.
FE&S: Foodservice projects can require collaboration and input from a lot of different people and often have many moving parts. How do you keep it all straight to ensure an efficient workflow?
JM: I normally work on five to six projects at a time, and it can be stressful. As a result, I don't multitask too much between projects. I'm also a hands-on guy. I go on all of my deliveries to instruct our installers as to where everything goes. My clients get me from start to finish.
FE&S: Why is it that you like to go on all of your deliveries?
JM: Customers appreciate it. They see that I make that effort to ensure everything goes smoothly. Whenever a rep is involved, I always like to be there with them. What sets me apart is that I do a lot of the work myself.
FE&S: How do you go about building a strong rapport with your customers?
JM: I'm not a high-pressure salesperson. When I get involved with a customer, I try to develop a partnership. If they want to buy strictly on price, I'm probably not the right person for them. I've developed many relationships over the years, which makes it worthwhile to get up and go to work each day.
FE&S: In the event a part of a project does not go as planned, say a delivery is delayed or something shows up damaged, describe your approach to solving these kinds of problems.
JM: I normally like to handle delays or damage right up front, not at the eleventh hour. I get it resolved right then and there.
FE&S: If one were thinking of starting a career in the foodservice industry, what advice would you offer?
JM: I'd let them know that it takes a lot of knowledge to be successful in this business. A salesperson can't just be sent out on the road. We're a SEFA dealer, and the training they provide is great.