Centerpiece Helps Dealers Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets

Sam Grote

As part of its mission to celebrate organizations that push the foodservice equipment and supplies industry forward, the FEDA First Thing newsletter publishes Q&As with member companies. This week features Centerpiece, a technology company that designs and builds software for foodservice equipment and supplies dealers.

Who is your customer base?
Sam Grote, founder and CEO: We are a technology company exclusively dedicated to the foodservice equipment and supplies (FE&S) Industry. Our current focus is on FE&S dealers, where we're building a connected platform (Centerpiece) that makes it easier for them to track, manage and analyze their projects from pipeline to the punch list. We rolled out version one earlier this year and are rolling out version two in September. 

What services do you provide to dealers?
We design and build software for dealers, just like dealers design and build kitchens for their customers. We start off by identifying your objectives and constraints. We then design software drawings for your review and iterate them until we identify a solution that works. We then convert these drawings into a software as a service (SaaS) application.

How has Centerpiece set itself apart in the technology market?
We have a rockstar technology team led by our CTO, Heesh Naim, who has over 20 years of engineering leadership experience at both Fortune 500 companies and innovative startups. In addition, our design and build services are free of charge, which gives dealers a risk-free and cost-free way to test out new technology.

How does Centerpiece’s operating system help teams work better together and what kinds of data insights does it provide?
The foundational problem in this industry is a lack of connectivity (data, teams, external parties) due to the decades-old technology infrastructure that powers it. Our objective is to replace this legacy technology stack with a connected software platform that brings the industry together. Our platform centralizes your project teams (sales, design, estimation, project management, etc.) eliminating redundant data entry and increasing operational visibility. It also has digital coordination tools that make it easier for dealers to work with key project stakeholders, whether they are internal or external to your organization. Examples include shop drawing requests/approvals, job site readiness and installation solicitation and scheduling.

Our platform provides advanced bid analytics to help you identify what key factors are driving your wins/losses and a real-time project revenue forecast at your team's fingertips. This allows finance to budget effectively and your front-line to focus on making the next sale.

How has the company innovated in recent years?
We just recently hit our one-year anniversary and so we are just toddlers! But I'm extremely proud of what we've already accomplished. We've built the industry's first bid analytics solution and are about to roll out the first project management solution dedicated to the unique needs of FE&S dealers. 

And like toddlers, we are growing and evolving our platform so fast that every few months we turn into something completely different! 

How is your company making the best use of new technology?
We are leveraging the latest cloud computing technologies (Amazon Web Service) and software frameworks to build our software platform. This allows us to develop features rapidly and scale effortlessly with our partners.

In addition, we are a fully remote company today. I'm based in North Carolina, our CTO is based in Chicago, our design team is in Boston and our front-end developer is in Las Vegas. Being remote is great because it lowers our operating costs (no real estate expense) and allows us to access the most talented people, wherever they reside. We leverage a suite of technology tools to ensure that, despite being in different locations, we always communicate effectively and are aligned on our objectives.

How is the company growing?
When I started Centerpiece a year ago, it was just me, my laptop and an idea. Today, we have what I think is the best technology team in the industry and we're just getting started. We plan to make additional engineering hires this fall so we can accelerate product development. 

What challenges are your customers facing, and how have you helped them create solutions?
A lack of connectivity – whether it's data, internal teams or external parties. Our connected platform helps bring their data, teams and workflows together. The best way to create a solution is to put the user experiencing the problem in the driver’s seat. We will never understand the pain points around shop drawing approvals better than a project manager. So, we listen, learn, design solutions, collect feedback, and iterate until we find the solution.

What excites you about the future of our industry?
What excites me is that despite being a large and mature industry, it is really just Day One in terms of high-quality software adoption. This is incredibly exciting for me as a technologist because it means we can help shape the future of the industry. In addition, this isn't just a large industry, it's an important one that impacts the costs and quality of every outside-the-home dining experience. The pandemic highlighted just how much value these outside-the-home dining experiences bring to our lives. I can't think of anything more exciting than the opportunity to shape an industry that positively impacts the lives of hundreds of millions of people every day all over the world. 

Is there anything else FEDA members should know about your company?
If you're tired of spreadsheets and email chaos, we're here to help!