A Lesson in School Foodservice

Southbend and Heritage Parts: A Unique Relationship

A Q&A with John Perruccio, President, Southbend

What are some of the trends that you’re seeing in terms of equipment for K-12 these days?

Perruccio John photo2John Perruccio: I am seeing schools moving away from combis and using convection ovens again. The reasoning we hear is that combis offer amazing control and finish of the product, but the operators at that level are intimidated by the perceived complication of the controls.

What are some of the considerations K-12 operations look at when choosing a new piece of equipment or choosing to repair versus replace? 

JP: The question I am asked most often about equipment is, “Can we warranty the product for three years?” The reasoning seems to be that a school only uses the oven part of the year, and once a day. So they reason they should have a longer warranty as a result. We have developed a specific convection oven, the “K-12,” for schools. It is efficient, Energy Star rated, powerful and carries a three-year warranty. It was developed solely with schools in mind and is an item that has been gaining sales in schools in the past year.

In terms of skill and high turnover, labor is always an issue for K-12 operations. How does this affect equipment usage/wear?

JP: The equipment we sell to schools is often based on the simplicity of use. Our controls are very straightforward and simple. We have seen equipment that is complicated fall out of favor and basically become ignored in the operation.

Tell us what a K-12 operation values most when choosing a parts distribution partner or service partner. 

K-series double stackThe Southbend K-Series Double Stack Convection Oven is specifically designed for K-12 foodservice operations.JP: Reliability, relationship and competitive pricing. I think this is probably true with many purchase decisions in life. I don’t always feel you have to be the lowest price. You have to be in the ballpark. But if you can be someone they can count on as part of their operation — like Heritage, who has a dedicated K-12 Team — you essentially become part of their team. You perhaps work with a district. Have an in-field person walk through the district, identifying the equipment they have, the brands they use and the age and wear of the equipment. You then have effectively blueprinted a usage of what is important to them. Annually it could be easy to update and you can share purchasing and repair records to help them in future repair-versus-buy suggestions. You basically become their service advisor.

Tell us about the Heritage-Southbend relationship and what it brings to the K-١٢ customer.

JP: The fact that you have so many key parts available. You can get parts to K-12 equipment next day or sometimes same day. This is monumental for K-12 to service their equipment and have it running again with little to no downtime. Because of the volume of use, there are usually not a lot of options if one method of cooking fails in the kitchen. The Heritage ability to supply parts quickly gets equipment back up faster and staff back on schedule.