An interview with Gary L. Potvin, president of Pine Tree Food Equipment Inc.



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

Gary L. PotvinName: Gary L. Potvin
Company: Pine Tree Food Equipment Inc.
Title: President
Age: 51    
Industry involvement: CFESA Board Member, Maine Restaurant Association, Maine School Nutrition Association, Maine Energy Marketers Association
Years in foodservice: 25 years
Educational background: graduate of University of Maine at Fort Kent, 1981
What’s the most important lesson you have learned?
Do not dwell on your mistakes, and do not be satisfied with your past successes.
What’s the best career advice you have been given?
I look every day at a quote that hangs on my office wall. The quote was shared with me by my mentor who often quoted Ronald Reagan: “It can be done.”
What makes you want to stay in the industry?
The ever-changing marketplace creates challenges that intrigue my desire to always look for opportunities to improve how we serve our customers. How can we do it better?
What attracted you to the industry?
Prior to starting Pine Tree Food Equipment, I worked in the home medical care field. I felt that the food service industry could benefit from the same sense of urgency that exists in home medical care. This industry provides similar challenges for me as the medical business did, without the same life and death concerns that I often carried home with me at the end of the day.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Starting my company with a basic idea and a tool box and growing it into a company that now employs people who share the same vision that I have — growth with integrity.
Describe the biggest challenge you have overcome.
When I started my company, I handled every aspect of running the business by myself. It would have been easy for me to micromanage my company as it grew, but I have assembled a team that I have complete trust in and they share the same vision and mission I have for this business.
What excites you most about the foodservice industry?
I am excited by the constant change in commercial kitchen equipment. Being able to provide quality service to our customers who need quicker and more efficient kitchens is a passion that my whole staff shares with me.
If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be?
The one thing that I see as a need for improvement in our industry is better communication with manufacturers, dealers and their reps. We are all part of the same team; we each have different roles but we are all interdependent. None of us has any greater importance to this industry than the other. I feel that collaboration is key to the future of our industry.