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Mariah McManaman, Account Manager for Avanti Restaurant Solutions, Folsom, Calif.

After joining Noah's Bagels out of high school, Mariah McManaman felt she found a home in the foodservice industry. Nine years later the equipment side started calling her name and she wound up working for an independent manufacturers' rep firm. That eventually led her to Avanti Restaurant Solutions, where she's resided for the past 12 years.

Mariah-McManamanMariah McManamanPrior to her role as account manager, McManaman did a little bit of everything at Avanti, including serving as office manager, handling purchasing and invoicing, and even project management. She now primarily works with chains, but also handles various other projects for the company, including a supermarket, independent restaurants and a local bakery.

Here McManaman talks about her background, customer approach and why she excels in her current role.

FE&S: How does your background help you serve Avanti's customers?

MM: My background helps me better understand where my customers are coming from. I have never forgotten how it feels when equipment breaks down. I also know the flow of restaurants. The experiences I've had gives me more empathy. These are people that just want to open up on time and have a great restaurant. Having the right pieces of equipment in place helps them be successful.

FE&S: During your time at Avanti, you've done almost every job imaginable. How does that experience translate?

MM: It helps because I've grown up with this group, and we've gone through it all together. Whether purchasing equipment or getting a job invoiced, I know what has to be done and how long it takes. I have an advantage in knowing how to get things done most efficiently.

FE&S: One customer describes you as being a part of the company's brand. How do you build this type of working relationship?

MM: I consider the customers I'm connected with my friends. I treat them as a person, not just as a customer. They're more to me than someone who just buys equipment. In
addition, Avanti's core values have played a huge role in how everything is handled. The culture that has been created really spills over into customers and our lives outside of work. My favorites are "connect and communicate" and "see it through."

FE&S: You're known for helping your customers open on time, all the time. What's the secret?

MM: I never believe it if someone says something is impossible. It's all about perseverance, determination and not taking no for an answer.

I have an awesome team and a great relationship with customers. We're very connected. I may not be the front-end responder, but I'm always in the background buzzing around and there when they need me. It can be difficult to keep people on pace when a lot is going on, and that's when I step in. It's important to have a good solid team that works together.

FE&S: Is there one challenge that you are most proud of overcoming?

MM: With my first supermarket client, I had to figure it out every single step of the way. It was definitely extra work and stress, but it all came together at the end. This was a huge accomplishment, as I was developing eight mini restaurants in one location. It was a big deal.