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58 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2017 M ost people would be burned out from their job after working 42 years for the same company, but not Paul Toukatly. The service manager and co-owner of upstate New York's Duffy's Equipment Service remains passionate about his work and the service sector as a whole, decades later. The energy in his voice when he talks about the sector makes that clear. Not surprisingly for an industry lifer, Toukatly got into the service sector through a family connec- tion. His uncle, Frank Duffy, started the business more than 50 years ago. Begin- ning at age 12, Toukatly spent summers working for Frank as a gofer. "I started carrying tools, running errands back and forth to the truck while he was working," Toukatly recalls. "Slowly I learned how to fix small pieces of equipment. When I could drive, he would send me out on my own." In 1974, when Toukatly was 18, his summer job turned into a full-time position when he became one of the firm's first employees. Two years later he opened the company's first branch location in Binghamton, N.Y. The experience served him well, Toukatly recalls. He learned how to hire, fire and manage employees, as well as build strong relationships with customers. By the time he turned 30, the branch was thriving. With just five employ- ees, though, it had maxed out for a branch serving a town of Binghamton's size. So, when he was offered the chance to do it all over again by opening the firm's Syracuse office, Toukatly jumped at the opportunity. A few years later, with that branch established, he became the service manager for the entire company. Taking Ownership Around 1990, Toukatly's relationship with the Duffy's Equipment Service funda- mentally changed. That's when he, along with cousin Patrick Duffy (Frank's son), began receiving shares of stock in the firm. As soon as they began taking ownership of the company, Toukatly says, he and Patrick began directing its future. "Frank put a lot of faith in Patrick and me," Toukatly says. "When decisions came to open another branch or something else, a lot of those decisions came from us, even when we were relatively young. I know he would let us make mistakes that he could have prevented, but he knew it was more important that we learn from those mistakes than just following orders." The partnership remains a good fit, Toukatly says. He manages the service agents and customer relationships, while Patrick oversees the business end, including human resources and finances. Under their collective leadership for the past 20 years, the company has thrived. It now has 48 employees working in 7 locations across upstate New York. Industry Changes The company's growth has occurred during a period of tremendous change in the foodservice industry. One of the SERVICE AGENT 2017 TOP ACHIEVER SERVICE AGENT PAUL TOUKATLY SERVICE MANAGER AND CO-OWNER, DUFFY'S EQUIPMENT SERVICE By Toby Weber