I hope that you will take the time to read about Eric Harrison from Supplies on the Fly, FE&S’ 2018 DSR of the Year. As many of you know, this award is near and dear to my heart as a former DSR of the Year for ID, a magazine that covered the broadline foodservice distribution space. That award came early in my career and more than a few years ago. One might reasonably ask what relevance the award has in 2018 and my answer is ... plenty.

Having lived the life of a DSR, I have a unique appreciation for what it takes to be successful in this demanding role. Distributor sales reps serve as the conduit between their companies and their operator customers. Both the distributors and the operators do business in hypercompetitive environments with thin margins. It can be a really tough place to make a living. The ones who do it well are accomplished professionals who deserve a great deal of respect.

Like many in the foodservice industry and, I suspect, many regular readers of FE&S today, I didn’t come into this business through the proverbial front door. Quite literally, I came in through the back door. First as a server in high school, a dish room attendant working my way through college, a kitchen manager, an F&B manager at a country club and then a DSR for a broadline distributor. It wasn’t until my 30s that my career in magazine ad sales began, which took me from a salesperson with FE&S to eventually becoming publisher of the magazine, and now owner and CEO of Zoomba Group. That’s my story.

What I find particularly compelling about Eric’s story is that he operates in a hybrid space that encompasses both the old-school face-to-face relationship building facet of the business coupled with the new reality of internet sales. He really has a fascinating story; one that everyone with a stake in this business should read with interest.