Most of us stay in the foodservice industry because we got hooked. Maybe we're attracted to its energy, theatrical aspects or the art of the business. Regardless of what keeps us coming back, the fact remains foodservice is a people business. People buy foodservice equipment from other people. We design kitchens as a workspace for people. And, most importantly, foodservice operators' primary business is to serve people.
The relationships we build in the field involve different types of professionals and organizations. We have all worked with reputable architects, consultants, manufacturers, contractors, dealers, service agents and manufacturer's representatives. We rely on those relationships for our livelihood and often they blossom into friendships with special people.
This month the foodservice industry loses one of those special people with the retirement of Pepe Griffo, director of consultant services for Traulsen Refrigeration. An active member of numerous organizations, Pepe has certainly given back more to the foodservice industry than he has taken from it. He may be stepping aside, but those of us touched by Pepe during his career will carry on his countless lessons.
Pepe's career began in a custom metal-fab shop in Pittsburgh. and included a 12-year stretch in California as a designer for a prominent consulting firm. His true calling was with Traulsen Refrigeration, his employer since 1976. Many of us have him to thank for being the bridge between refrigeration engineers and our consulting firms for the past 35 years.
As a solutions-driven kind of person, Pepe taught us to communicate with candor and make the customer's concerns our concerns.
Pepe knew how to explain new, complicated foodservice equipment to consultants, and, most importantly, demonstrated how using temperature probes and electronic printouts could seamlessly enhance HACCP programs, which were new to the foodservice industry at that time.
A factory tour with Pepe was always a two-way street. He thrived on open discussions of how the real world used his product lines vs. factory testing. Pepe taught us that refrigeration is all about science meeting the practical needs of the operator. In the early days of some product lines, Pepe was instrumental identifying potential glitches and working with his factory to make sure everything transferred correctly to the end user.
Few people understand the nuances of the foodservice industry better than Pepe, who often strove to improve communication across segments. Being an active, allied member of FCSI, he illustrated the importance of consultants keeping the lines of communication open with manufacturers and dealers, and vice versa.
It was Pepe who first introduced the NAFEM data protocols to me at an FCSI seminar. By understanding those protocols I was able to better communicate to my clients how to plan for the new technology wave that was about to hit us. Now we have service agents who can transmit diagnostic information wirelessly to the manufacturing engineer at the plant, almost like Scotty "beaming up" other Star Trek characters. In a way, it's safe to say that Pepe also "beamed us up" in terms of our knowledge and application of new technologies.