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DSR of the Month, July 2004: Jason Sapp, TriMark FoodCraft, Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Jason Sapp, a project manager for Winston-Salem, N.C.-based TriMark FoodCraft, knows that when it comes to servicing his 200 or so clients, the buck stops with him. And according to FE&S magazine's DSR of the Month for July 2004, that's just fine.

"We're kind of different down here," Sapp said, referring to himself and his sales colleagues. "We walk through a job from beginning to end from the time we get the order," he noted. "We don't pass orders off to anybody else. We actually hand-write each order, physically. We make sure doors are hinged correctly, hoods are the right length. We coordinate drop shipments. We get with our installation department and schedule our guys to meet trucks to make sure that installation dates are when customers requested them."

Sapp joined TriMark FoodCraft (and the foodservice industry) 13 years ago at the age of 20, and his accomplishments since then have been impressive. After accounting for about $5 million of his company's approximately $50 million in total sales last year, he said he suspects he might now be its top sales generator.

Winter referred to his territory as "planet Earth - until we put people on the moon. Then I'm going there."

Sapp has no territory for which he is responsible, just a portfolio of key accounts - 30 to 40 of which are active at any one time. Thus far in '04, Sapp declared, "we're slammed - we're busy." Sapp primarily handles chains. One steady customer for the past eight years has been a national donut chain whose stores in all 50 states he supplies with equipment.

Another major customer, with whom Sapp has worked since 2000, is a privately held company that operates more than 330 Hardee's restaurants, as well as concepts such as Texas Steakhouse, Highway Diner, BBQ and Ribs Co., and Café Carolina & Bakery. A newer client is a concept based in Tampa, Fla., and Greenville, S.C. Sapp sells this chain everything from equipment and furniture to smallwares. He noted, "They put the building up, we put the rest of it in."

Sapp said he has become better at following-up than he was earlier in his career, thanks largely to TriMark FoodCraft President Harry Gallins and Vice President Chris Nichols. Both stressed the importance of simply returning phone calls.

He also aggressively seeks out new clients. "Everybody, including the accounts you're working with now, is going to level off. They're going to have a plan to build five units a year, but they may only build one, so you need to be with somebody else who may also want to do five a year. You don't want to rest on your laurels."

Sapp works both in and out of his office, at times hitting the road to the tune of anywhere from 50 to 200 miles a day. "I've gone down to Atlanta in a day and turned around and come back just to make a sales call. It just depends on what's required."

Looking ahead, Sapp, who lives in Winston-Salem with his wife of nine years, Khristy, daughter Morgan, seven, and 16-month-old son, Jordan, said he sees his and his DSR colleagues' roles continuing to evolve.

"I think the guys who have the knowledge, who can help whatever chain they're working with - as long as they keep staying ahead of what's going on with equipment, mechanical codes and health departments - are always going to be in the loop," he concluded. "I also see that there is more for the young guys to learn now than when I was coming up. It looks like it's just tougher for them to get a grasp on it."

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