Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

MAY 2017

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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44 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • MAY 2017 project, too, so they get to know us. We want to show them we are a family business and they don't have to call five people to get in touch with someone. In other instances, I don't think the consultants feel they get the attention they deserve." Being active on job sites can pay dividends in other ways, too. "I keep my eyes and ears open when I am on a job site. The last person we hired, I found him on a job site," Zabel says. "He was a refrigeration tech. Having some of that industry knowledge has been a success for us." The time Johnson-Lancaster and Associates project man- agers invest in the company's jobs draws high marks from the independent foodservice design consultants the company works with on occasion. "A lot of dealers today don't have project managers that will go to the site. To get a person that's knowledgeable to visit the site is a real plus. They know the business, the numbers and more," says Tom Galvin, principal of Galvin Design, a Florida-based foodservice consulting firm. Galvin worked with the Johnson-Lancaster and Associates team on Mango's Tropical Café, a $32 million project that earned an honorable mention in FE&S' 2017 Facility Design Project of the Year competition. "They know when they are working on a job with me that I will be hands-on and be present at the job site. They take that into consideration when bidding on the job," Galvin adds. "I will know ahead of time if there is a problem because they have the equipment drop-shipped into their warehouse. They provide the necessary information for us to know that it has arrived in the proper condition, etc. They are very good about letting us know about items that might show up damaged or bent and what can be done about it. They are great people to work with on installations." The fact that the company works on a variety of projects literally all over the world also makes for an engaging work environment. "We're a small dealership from Florida and getting to work on a variety of projects is pretty rewarding," Hammersley says. "Whether it is government projects or worldwide brands, it still comes down to having good people." The company's relatively flat structure is another key to its success. "I have one boss. I report to Brad Lancaster and he's always available to us," Zabel says. "Having one boss that you can always go to makes a big difference." PEOPLE MATTER Despite the company's steady yet swift growth, Johnson- Lancaster has never lost sight of what truly makes the busi- ness successful. "Our job is service and if we don't get that, we don't get anything," Hammersley says. "It honestly is about the people because this is a people business. You can have different departments or business models but at the end of the day if you have a relationship with the customer — you know them and they know you — they will be loyal. It's a small industry but people see when honesty and sincerity come through." The associates' having the ability to take care of their customers starts with the company's willingness to take care of them. "All we really have to sell is our employees. Associ- ates is in our name for a reason," Jerry says. "We take care of our associates. Several of our associates have worked here long enough to be able to retire now." The reason employees remain so loyal is simple. "It's a place where people work hard and their hard work is rewarded. There's no question about that," Hammersley says. "The Lancasters take care of their people. Once we hook on to someone, we give them a long leash. And if they perform, they are rewarded. We have very few people who have left us because we are so careful about the vetting." JLA Equipment Distributors is a stocking distributor that sells foodservice equipment and supplies to dealers from Florida to Texas and from Texas to Chicago. The distributor has a warehouse in Clearwater, Fla., and another in Atlanta. Jeremy Lewis, who joined the company four years ago after a career in law enforce- ment, leads a team of 10 people as the divi- sion's executive vice president. JLA Equipment Distributors still shares that same customer-first ethos that guides the other aspects of the enterprise. "We want the customer to be able to speak with someone immediately. If I am a customer, I don't want to wait for a return call," Lewis says. "Today's cus- tomers want their orders handled swiftly. Even if it is a freight issue, they are still our customer. Everyone gets treated with the same level of respect and courtesy." And like leaders in other parts of the business, Lewis remains very engaged with all aspects of JLA Equipment Distributors. "If we have an issue in the warehouse, I will be the first one to jump on a forklift. In some compa- nies you would hear someone say 'that's not my job' but that will never be said here," Lewis says. "That strengthens the relationship with our crews. As an executive, you shouldn't ask someone else to do something that you would not do. When you have everyone working on the same page, that's the recipe for success." JOHNSON-LANCASTER EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTORS QUIET GIANTS

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