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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42 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2018 Dave Kuelpman has no family connections to the equipment and supply (E&S) segment, but instead got started just a few years out of college as a salesman for a major refrigeration manufacturer. He thrived in this post, and over the next eight years Kuelpman rose to become the company's Western regional sales manager. But Kuelpman and his wife were trying to start a family, and the travel demands of the job were high. "My last year or two with the factory I was gone two or three weekends out of every month, go- ing to buying group meetings and trade shows," he says. But Kuelpman landed on a solution: start a rep firm, which would give him greater control over his career and his home life. So, in 1989, he and two colleagues, Walt Luchinger and Jeff Helfman, re- signed from the manufacturer at the same time to form KLH Marketing with headquarters in Anaheim, Calif. The company's start was humble. Covering Southern California and Southern Nevada, KLH Marketing began in a 900-square-foot office with just the three partners and one staffer serving three core lines. Today the firm represents 20 lines and serves as a stocking rep for several of these factories. The firm employs more than 30 people and operates out of a 16,000-square-foot headquarters in Anaheim, Calif., along with a satellite office in Emeryville, Calif. Touch Points There was no single factor that led to this growth, says Kuelpman. Instead, it was a result of he and his partners grinding away and being in the right place at the right time. "Our tagline is 'Foodservice Solutions Since 1989.' We want to be the answer person, their go-to person," Kuelpman says. "There was a time I heard one of my competitors say, 'We don't want guys calling us asking ques- tions we can't solve.' Our goal is that we want customers calling us all of the time. You want to become the solution provider to the dealer, the consultant and the end user." KLH has invested significantly to be able to offer those solutions. The company has a 1,000-square-foot test kitchen at its headquarters and employs a corporate chef to handle demos of new equipment in that kitchen. This chef, says Kuelpman, can discuss food production, equip- ment operation and other kitchen issues on a level that operators truly appreciate. These conversa- tions often lead to KLH finding the end user's true pain points and offering solutions the customer may not have considered. "We had someone come in wanting to learn how to hold seafood longer. We thought that holding seafood sounded like a bad idea, so we showed them how to cook it faster. They left here buying cooking equipment as opposed to a holding cabinet," Kuelpman says. In addition to these one-on- one touch points, KLH hosts a much larger "Octoberfest" event — complete with beer and brats — for end users, dealers and other foodservice equipment and supplies specifiers. While the refreshments may help bring people in the door, folks really come for the education and training, according to Luchinger. About a dozen manufac- turers set up trade-show style booths and present their latest equipment and upgrades to dealers and end users. The last gathering, Kuelpman says, drew more than 200 guests, giving manufac- turers the chance to speak with more customers in a single night than they could in a full week of sales calls. A Guiding Force Kuelpman is known in the E&S channel for being more than a suc- cessful businessman. He's also com- mitted to supporting the industry as a whole, serving on the regional and national boards of the Manufacturers' ACHIEVER T o President KLH Marketing By Toby Weber MANUFACTURERS' REPRESENTATIVE Dave Kuelpman

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