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62 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2017 S tacey Stahl, co- president of Ritten Associates Inc., based in Edina, Minn., is not one for self-promotion. In fact, when she learned about FE&S recognizing her as at Top Achiever, her first reaction was to turn it down. That may seem odd for someone with a job that most consider sales, which tends to draw extroverts. But Stahl doesn't see herself a salesperson. She consid- ers herself a resource and a problem solver. Start at Ritten Associates Stahl's career in foodser- vice began at 15 years old when she started waiting tables — a job she held at various restaurants through high school and college. In 1980, she graduated from the University of Minnesota and began working in a series of dealer sales rep positions. Stahl stayed on the dealer side until 1983, when she took an outside sales post for a major manufacturer. It was in this role that she met and became friends with George and Jeff Ritten of Ritten Associates, a manufacturers' rep firm covering Minnesota and the Dakotas. In 1987, the father-son team offered Stahl a job with the firm. The decision to join was easy, she says. "[George and Jeff] are the most amazing men," Stahl says. "Family friendly, which was very important to me as a young mom, and their reputation was stellar: incredible integrity, great work ethic. They were true gentlemen and class acts. Everybody loved George and Jeff, including me, so it was an easy decision." A few years later, George and Jeff approached Stahl with the opportunity to become a partner in Ritten Associates. In 1999, another Ritten employee, Steve Perreault, became a partner as well. The pair acquired the firm outright in 2001 and have an incredible working relation- ship as partners, says Stahl. "Not only could I not do it without Steve, I would not want to do it without Steve," Stahl says. "I trust him completely. Any decision Steve makes is absolutely good enough for me. You can come up with as many accolades and adjectives as you want, and I will agree with all of them. He is the best partner a person could ever have." In terms of staffing and number of lines carried, Ritten Associates today is very similar to how it was when Stahl and Perreault took over the company more than 15 years ago. By design, Ritten Associates remains a small firm, with just two outside salespeople and two inside support team members. The company intentionally keeps a relatively low profile. Instead of marketing itself, it focuses on the details of the projects it has taken on and measures its success by the quality of relationships the firm has built across the industry, Stahl says. High-End, High Involvement That focus and developing relationships on detail meshes with the company's business model. Ritten specializes in representing manufacturers of "high-end, high-involvement" equipment, Stahl says, and carries less than a dozen lines total, some of which it has represented for more than 30 years. By limiting the number of factories it represents, the MANUFACTURERS' REPRESENTATIVE 2017 TOP ACHIEVER MANUFACTURERS' REPRESENTATIVE STACEY STAHL CO-PRESIDENT, RITTEN ASSOCIATES INC. By Toby Weber