For a complete list of FE&S' Future Foodservice Leaders see The Future Is Now.
Name: Todd Jones
Company: Paragon Marketing
Title: Vice President
Years in foodservice: 11
Educational background: Bachelor of Arts from Central College
What's the most important lesson you have learned?
If someone (even of significant authority) gives you a measurement, tells you there is a loading dock out back, gives you a voltage requirement, etc.... always verify it yourself.
What's the best career advice you have been given?
Be nice to everybody you meet. The guy in the corner making sauces today may be a hotshot executive chef in a few years.
What makes you want to stay in the industry?
There are a lot of baby boomers in the industry at all levels: manufacturing, dealerships, and manufacturer's reps. I think there are significant opportunities throughout the industry for young people in the next 5 to 10 years. Besides, everybody eats!
What attracted you to the industry?
I love food, people, and the variety of being a multi-line rep. Each time I think I have seen it all, something pops up that reminds me that I have not.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Shortly after NRA show this year I followed up with an area hospital on a lead generated at the show. On the phone they told me they had already narrowed it down to Rational and Alto-Shaam and that they were not interested in hearing about Eloma Combis; they had just stopped by their booth early in the show and were no longer interested. I pressed on for a meeting. In July, we secured an order for $120K of Eloma combis with the hospital!
What excites you most about the foodservice industry?
I love that we are seeing new technologies emerging that are helping prepare foods quicker, more consistently, and, in most cases, reallocating labor in the process.
If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I would like to see buying groups dissolve. Philosophically they are a great idea, but when dealers routinely make more on the backend than the front things are imbalanced. Besides, as a rep I would prefer more of a Wild West arena where the best man wins — not the one with the best buying group alliances!