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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SEPTEMBER 2018 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • 47 vice president of sales for Supplies on the Fly and Harrison's direct supervisor. "Eric doesn't have an assistant or someone to enter all of the quotes in AutoQuotes; he does that by himself. He deals with a tremendous number of transactions and is a working machine in my book. I am impressed that he can juggle so many balls in the air, and it's very seldom that one of them drops." GROWTH AND LOGISTICS During his tenure at Supplies on the Fly, Harrison has not only helped grow the online sales aspect of the busi- ness but has also been a force in building the company's reputation, working with manufacturers and forging many strong bonds with manufacturers' reps to understand this new form of distribution. "Customers — and those especially in small towns across the country — appreciated us because they could order things they needed and get them quickly without having to drive three hours to get to a dealer," Harrison says. "In the early days, we had to work really closely with manufacturers and convince them that they wouldn't lose money by drop-shipping." Even today, logistics is a huge part of Harrison's work. He works hard to get the best deals on shipping possible, knowing it's a rising cost. And while Supplies on the Fly used to stock more items, the company now leverages Sysco's warehouses throughout the U.S. to drop-ship equipment in the area of the client in a much faster, less costly process. Harrison's operations background comes in handy in knowing the ins and outs of the business. In fact, it's likely the most important explanation as to why he works so well with his customers. "I know I can't call people between noon and 2 p.m., and I also understand the need for something quick- ly," he says. Restaurant clients "don't order an ice machine because you think it will break in two weeks. You buy when your ice machine breaks and you're tired of buying ice." That's why he sources the best quality he can find at the best prices, and why he's had the same chain restaurant customers for more than a decade. "I'm not a used car dealer," Harrison says. "My philosophy is I don't need an order, I need a customer." Vergouwen points this out as well. "It's easy for salespeople to want to close a deal, even if they know they won't make the lead time," he says. "Eric is different; he is very honest from the beginning and will say, 'This is what I can do and cannot do.' The end user realizes that right away and that is probably one of the main reasons his relationships cement as quickly as they do. Eric is also very personable and has a unique ability to quickly con- nect with the end user or Sysco marketing assistant on the phone and face-to-face when he has the opportunity, and he can deal with everything from a small hot dog stand to a highly sophisticated client with many, complex needs. He has a natural flare for salesmanship to be able to relate

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