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Name: David Ellingson
Company: Bargreen Ellingson
Years in foodservice: 11 total (1 year with the National Restaurant Association, 4 years with Hobart Corporation and 6 years with Bargreen Ellingson.
Educational background: BBA in Finance from The George Washington University
What's the most important lesson you have learned?
Focus on people first — employees, customers, vendors and others. Proper business planning is critical but execution of strategy is more challenging and requires good people on your team and buy-in from customers and suppliers.
What's the best career advice you have been given?
Communicate rapidly with everyone around you. My first day at Hobart, Pat Kill told me the number one rule was to return phone calls as fast as I can. Rick and my Dad do the same thing here at Bargreen Ellingson. Rapid response wins business and friends.
What makes you want to stay in the industry?
Genetic decency. All kidding aside I don't know what else I would do.
What attracted you to the industry?
My dad always looked like he was having so much fun. Now I understand why, it's just a great business to be in.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Each time any employee buys into change and takes ownership of it. We put our people through tremendous stress implementing new technology, shifting product focus, moving buildings, etc. When someone understands the vision at the end of the pain of change, it feels great.
What excites you most about the foodservice industry?
We have infinitely more ideas than time or resources to execute them. I don't think our industry is stagnant; it simply lacks resources to move forward at a faster pace. The innovation will come and it will be an exciting next 30 years.
If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be?
If we invest more in innovation on the product (manufacturer) side and infrastructure and technology on the distribution (dealer) side of things, I believe our industry will attract much more talent.