An interview with Don Clarke, president of Boxer Northwest Company. 

 For a complete list of FE&S's Future Foodservice Leaders see The Future Is Now.

Don ClarkeName: Don Clarke
Company: Boxer Northwest Company
Title: President
Age: 40
Industry involvement: SEFA, FEDA Board Member
Years in foodservice: 17
Educational background: BSBA Management from University of Denver, MBA from Marylhurst University

What's the most important lesson you have learned?
Threats and opportunities are changing faster than ever before in our industry. Dealers must constantly be changing with these trends or you will become obsolete and irrelevant.

What's the best career advice you have been given?
Expect the unexpected.

What makes you want to stay in the industry?
My employees, we are like an extended family at Boxer Northwest; I feel a comfort with and a responsibility for my Boxer family.

What attracted you to the industry?
It's s a family business, and I grew up in the company.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Rebuilding sales after the bursting of the tech bubble and the recession that followed 9/11.

Describe the biggest challenge you have overcome.
My biggest challenge is a current one: rebuilding a strong company after the recession of 2008 and 2009. Sales and profits have declined and financial markets are making it more difficult to secure adequate financing at competitive rates.

What excites you most about the foodservice industry?
The relationships with customers, manufacturer reps and factory personnel. I enjoy the relationships I have built with my FEDA and SEFA family.

If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I feel we need to improve loyalty among dealers, factories, and manufacturer representatives. Too much of today's business is built on price and volume only.