Career options seem endless for many high school students who often go on to college and even change majors several times. For Pine Tree Food Equipment’s Dan Poulin, though, the transition from student to professional was pretty straightforward.
As a junior in high school, Poulin’s grandfather Steven Lunt introduced him to the foodservice industry and the role of the service agent. Poulin was hooked. “When I was in high school, I knew I was a hands-on learner, and this gave me the opportunity to work with my hands every day,” Poulin recalls. “I also liked the fact that you got to meet and know lots of people at the various places you visit during service calls. Every day really is a new day.”
During his junior year, Poulin participated in a work-study program with his grandfather’s company, Lunt Equipment, and upon graduation started to work there full time. “In August of 1999, Gary Potvin purchased my grandfather’s company, and I was part of the deal,” Poulin says.
Today, Poulin serves as vice president of operations/service and even earned recognition as CFESA’s Service Technician of the Year in 2013. Here, Poulin shares his perspective on today’s foodservice industry and what it takes to keep equipment running at peak efficiency.
How has technology changed for the better?
Technology makes the equipment safer, but it also places more emphasis on factory training. And because we are a CFESA member company that’s committed to training, we stay ahead of the competition. We have something to offer that a normal guy off the street can’t.
Lots of people talk about trust, but how do you go about building that trust?
Showing up when you say you are going to show up. Doing the right thing. Giving your best effort every time you are on that job site. Go that extra mile and do the little things. We always tell our guys to leave that job site cleaner than you found it.
What are the good operators doing that you wish others would do too?
We have a certain customer that buys into the planned maintenance program, and we visit them every six months. In between visits, they keep their equipment clean every single day. So cleanliness is really important. In between visits, you are going to keep the product in better working condition, and you will get better performance between planned visits. This will help prevent breakdowns.
Planned maintenance is one of those things that gets discussed a lot but not every operator supports it. How can service agents get operators to see the value in this?
A lot of times, they don’t see the return on investment from doing planned maintenance. We use a calculator that shows you what a clean unit will save an operator in terms of gas and electricity efficiency. This helps some operators understand the return on their investment.