Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

APR 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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26 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2018 Design Studios that continues to foster many sustainability projects. "That one conversation with Don Fisher felt like such an awakening moment to some of the things that were really important but had no clear educational path at the time," Seelye says. Her work in sustainability quickly blossomed in the consultant commu- nity as more got on board with LEED and energy-efficiency efforts. Consultant Connections Seelye has been an FCSI member for more than two decades — with one memorable FCSI-connected skit kick- ing things into high gear. The skit took place at a Manufactur- ers' Agents Association for the Food- service Industry (MAFSI) conference, where Seelye and the late Bob Pacifico of Romano Gatland were speaking on behalf of FCSI. "Back then, consultants didn't have strong relationships among manufacturers' reps, and they were looked at as being stringent and over- bearing — if that's the word for it," says Seelye. The duo decided to lighten up the room with a skit where Pacifico was the voice of God, aka the consultant, speaking in a deep voice, where the audi- ence could not see him from above the ballroom floor. Then, Seelye entered the picture, fully garbed in an angel costume with massive wings and a huge set of fake stone tablets — a self-deprecating spoof on the "10 commandments of consul- tants" in the vein of any rep's perception at that time. "It was hysterical — we had the whole room roaring in laughter," she recalls. "It broke down many barriers for us and showed others that consultants are just people — that we make mistakes too, but above all, we value the education manufacturer reps provide for us and we can collaborate on projects." The skit was a moment in time, and Seelye certainly doesn't take credit for changing the entire nature of the rep- consultant relationship. She does, how- ever, concede there were some dramatic differences in conversations post-skit. "We tried to show that consultants really do want to create a relationship that's respectful on both sides and not demanding or derogatory," she says. "We really wanted to create positive, connected and lasting relationships." Seelye went on to form strong friendships and partnerships not just with other consultants and reps but also with manufacturers, dealers, and others inside and outside the immedi- ate equipment and supplies industry. She played a major role in building the FCSI brand for women and raising the standards for industry education — and subsequently that of FCSI consultants in general — higher and higher. Seelye also played a key role in getting the NRA's Kitchen Innovations Awards program off the ground. After judging for eleven years after the pro- gram's 2004 inception, Seelye passed the baton to her New York partner, David Chislett. Forever an Educator Another accomplishment Seelye remains proud of is her involvement with FacMI, which makes sense, given her natural role over the years as a mentor and industry educator. The institute brings together as many as 50 college foodservice operators in one room for an intense three-day program. They spend that time learning more about the best practices of the design and equipment selection process. Seelye views the role of the food- service consultant in a very specific, slightly less conventional way. "For foodservice consultants today, it's more about people and communication skills, which create a vision for the project and challenge operators to feel courage in executing that vision," she says. The prior role of consultants, Seelye believes, wasn't as closely connected to operators as it is today. "Today, we see operators who are truly developing an innovative path as they reinvigorate their facilities and redefine what 'dining services' should mean," she says. "I think that comes from the continued growth of the general public's new relationship with food and culinary experiences that are closely tied to the advent of the Food Network and celebrity chefs. Today's operator has a much stronger voice, and that has challenged and elevated projects to a whole new level. And it's exciting to be a part of those." As the consultant community con- tinues to evolve, Seelye remains stead- fast on growth within her own firm and the continued collaboration among her partner group. "We've had both suc- cessful and failed efforts in the past, but we have always ended up learning so much from them," she says. "Most importantly, we've learned to spend "Kathy has always been available and accessible to me regardless of schedule and is always honest and transparent. She has become a hero, coach and friend these past ten years, and I am confident she will continue to be so throughout the rest of my life." —Tarah Schroeder, principal, Ricca Design Studios "It is so rare that one can accomplish all that and yet make the time to touch the heart of nearly every person that she encounters with her outlook on any situation, thoughtful notes, perfectly timed phone call, an offer of assistance and genuine care for what matters to that person. It's incredible to watch and even more amazing to experience on a personal level." — Lenny Condenzio, chief operating officer, Ricca Design Studios K AT H L E E N S E E LY E A Good Life

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