Steve Roane has made a lifelong career in the foodservice industry, but it has taken some twists and turns along the way.
After graduating from the University of Indianapolis in 1972, he took a position as service manager at Commercial Parts & Service, a role that lasted 25 years. In 2001, the company was sold and Roane stayed on until he technically retired in 2006.
Rather than hang up his hat, however, Roane changed course and worked at a foodservice consultancy as a field liaison.
With the economic downturn in 2008, it was time to move on again, and Roane reached out to his friends and former employer, the Allen family, who had purchased Vanco, a service agency, in 2010.
“I initially reached out to them as a reference in my job search, but we decided to get the band back together again,” says Roane, who joined Vanco in December 2011 as vice president of service.
FE&S: What is the most important thing a service technician needs to know?
SR: Good communication skills are key. I strive to communicate to a customer at their level while not becoming overly technical. It’s our job to provide enough information to help customers make a good decision.
FE&S: Describe a big challenge on the job that you’re proud of tackling.
SR: Overall for me, it’s seeing some of my techs grow, step out of their comfort zone and become better than they thought they could ever be. These techs are managers, training guys in the industry or running other companies.
FE&S: What is the most important tool in a technician’s arsenal?
SR: The brain is most important since you have to think creatively. Our industry is constantly changing, and equipment becomes more complicated, so we have to stay current on the latest training.
FE&S: What is the most common mistake foodservice operators make with equipment in the back of house?
SR: Keeping equipment clean and maintained is simple but most often overlooked. What I love about dealing with schools is that lunch ladies take care of the equipment like it is their own.
FE&S: How do you stay abreast of the latest equipment technology?
SR: I have a good relationship with factory reps because I’ve been around so long. We also look at new kitchens being built, see what our customer needs are and what they’re currently using. There also is a plethora of information on the internet, which is a huge change from 40 years ago when we depended on service manuals.