Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.
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54 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2017 T he term design consultant doesn't begin to describe the value that Beth Kuczera provides to her clients. What she accom- plishes as the president of Chicago-based Equipment Dynamics Inc. is more like making dreams come true. She describes it as being a good translator, converting the physical realities of a foodservice concept into a plan for architecture, inte- rior design and engineering development. She aims for productivity and visual ef- fect. The end result takes the form of a restaurant that not only has efficient, functional workflow but also gives din- ers that wow factor. Kuczera has a three- pronged design philosophy, which she likens to the holy trinity of Cajun cooking in New Orleans: onions, bell peppers and celery. For her, the trio is knowledge, good follow-through and a sense of urgency. Where her Career Started Kuczera started in the business a few days after she had earned her B.A. in business from Michigan State. She got a call from an alum who was recruiting for Bloomfield Indus- tries, a company that makes commercial beverage systems, and got her first job there as a direct sales person. She later joined a manufacturers' rep group, expanding her experience to a number of products and learning how a variety of sup- pliers approached sales and service to the dealer community. After cutting her teeth on the supply side, Kuczera moved to the dealer arena, working on commission. In the early '90s, she opened an Illinois branch office for the Wisconsin dealership and dealt with two clients who would be key to her career path. One client was John Buchanan, a partner in Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), a Chicago-based multiconcept operator. In 1991, she worked on the Original A-1 Border Beanery located on Chicago's North Pier. In time, LEYE would become a long-term client. The other person critical to her business was Joe Duellman, then of Eagle Ridge Inn & Resort in Galena, Ill. Duellman encouraged Kuczera to start her own consulting business. As Kuczera says, he provided her with mentorship, trust and belief in her abilities. He also provided capital. The result was the found- ing of Equipment Dynamics Inc. (EDI) in 1995. She established the design consultancy as a result of her years of learning to identify the needs and desires of operators and translate them into successful restaurants. A year after found- ing EDI, Kuczera paid Duellman back, and he returned his shares in the company to her. In building her business, Kuczera decided to focus on the commercial side of the foodservice industry. She explains that, at that time, there were a lot of established consultants working on noncommercial projects and she saw opportunity in the restaurant arena. Her experience in the dealership had expanded her knowledge of the segment's needs. EDI remains a boutique operation by choice. The com- pany has three full-time and two part-time staff. "We stay small so we can be hands-on," Kuczera says. A Dream Client List EDI has a client list of well-known restaurants and restau- rant groups that runs several pages long. They do not have to advertise their services, however; clients come to them CONSULTANT 2017 TOP ACHIEVER CONSULTANT BETH KUCZERA PRESIDENT, EQUIPMENT DYNAMICS INC. By Caroline Perkins