Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

SEP 2018

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 • SEPTEMBER 2018 "I have found some customers might be more equal than others, but I still treat everyone the same way, whether they buy three tongs from me or three refrigerators." Because, he notes, more often than not, those three tongs will lead to three refrigerators and then some. Sadly, Harrison's father passed away almost two years ago. A quietness in his voice on the topic suggests that the grieving process continues. While learning about his parents' business, Harrison started working at a local pizza restaurant on weekends to earn some extra money. It was at the pizzeria that he would learn every aspect of the business, including prep work, cooking, ordering and more. Although he played football in high school, went to college on a football scholarship and dreamed of opening his own sports bar, Harrison thought twice about that risk and returned home to work full time at the family business selling jewelry to stores throughout northern Georgia and the Carolinas. "I was walking around with $300,000 to $500,000 worth of jewelry on me and trust me, the bad guys know who you are," Harrison says, recalling a different risk he had to face. Thankfully, he never had a run-in with anyone, although his father had a few scary instances. At one point, the family business closed, but Harrison already knew he might want to go in a different direction. Foodservice pulled him back in at 22 years of age, this time, for good. "The owner of the pizza restaurant called me up and asked if I was available for work," he says. "When I said I was, he said, 'Good. Here are your keys, you are now the manager and how much do you want to work?' " FROM RESTAURANT TO DEALERSHIP After a few years of work at the restau- rant, Harrison admits he got burned out by the grind and felt the allure of the sales world calling him back. It hap- pened to be that the sales rep at Atlanta Fixtures, who often called on the restau- rant, suddenly left. Harrison called the Notable Projects Notable Projects E 7 E HURRICANE HARVEY In the months following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey last year, Harrison went with a Sysco team to help restaurant clients in the Keys of Florida, the hardest hit area in the U.S. "We saw just mounds and mounds of trash on the side of the road," he recalls. "A makeshift recycling system was set up just to process all the metal from the destruction." That included equipment from the many mom-and-pop restaurants, which suffered the most. "At one point, we were standing in one part of a hotel and could see through to the outside," Harrison says. "The entire kitchen was just gone. A lot of people we talked to had no idea if they would reopen at all. There were so many insurance is- sues, stalls with construction and other problems." One chef/owner even said he couldn't get back to his restaurant because of public health reasons. Har- rison's team did what they could do to partner with con- tractors and help resupply. "We are continuing to work with these customers to get them back open, and the cleanup and building is still ongoing, but hopefully soon we will see some movement from there," Harrison says. BUILDING THE ARK One memorable recent proj- ect of Harrison's was helping to outfit the foodservice operations at Ark Encounter, a massive, life-size replica of the biblical Noah's Ark in Kentucky. It spans 510 feet in length, 51 feet in height and 85 feet in width (approxi- mately the size of one and a half football fields). "The owners studied the operations at Disney, so we mimicked a lot of their kitchen setup and operations to be able to put out a lot of food in small spaces," says Harrison. He helped with the back-of-the-house design, making sure that the cooks didn't have to walk too far to perform tasks, and sourcing large walk-in coolers and ample fryers, double-stack convection ovens, hot food wells and other important pieces to fully equip the buf- fet/banquet-style restaurant, cafe and concession stands. In addition to helping with some of the design of the restaurant, Harrison worked with his network of installers and warehouses to get the shipments there at a good cost while ensuring that the installation and follow-up went smoothly. To date, the total equipment orders have racked in about $1.2 million. ERIC ERIC 7 Harrison's dedication continues to drive his sales record with year-over-year increases averaging $2.4 million.

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