Two-Day Retreat Gives Rising Talent an Opportunity to Learn from Experienced Foodservice Equipment Professionals

By Tim O'Connor
Associate Editor

Only a week after returning from the first FEDA Young Industry Leaders retreat, participant Eric Santagato was already thinking about how to put the lessons he learned about leadership into action.

As part of the retreat’s leadership discussions, attendees were given a demonstration of how storage and transport equipment manufacturer Metro, the host company, uses predicative indexes to understand their workers’ personality profiles, allowing the company to create balanced and effective teams. The session stood out to Santagato, who says he’s interested in using it as a tool in the hiring process and for helping employees understand what skills they should improve.

The two-day event was held at manufacturer Metro’s headquarters in Pennsylvania. President and CEO John Nackley led a discussion on what qualities make for strong and effective leadership in the foodservice equipment industry—honesty, commitment, good communication, and self-awareness— and how to build a framework for leadership. Discussions also touched on how managers can use “why” questions to get at the heart of issues employees are having. Additionally, the group of about 15 participants toured Metro’s facility and showroom, learning about the company’s latest prep carts and shelving solutions.

“John did a really nice job talking about leadership and the different types of leadership,” Santagato says. “It was nice to get out of my element and into the classroom to go back and talk about those things. I’m not used to stopping my daily routine to think about how to lead.”

Gene Clark, chair of the YIL steering committee and president of Clark Food Service Equipment, also was impressed by that portion of the program. “I think a highlight for many was reviewing the results of the personality profile we took and understanding the impact our personalities have on the way we lead and the way we might develop effective teams,” he notes.

In addition to the time spent at Metro, the retreat included a dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House within Mohegan Sun Casino. The discussion and dinner were opportunities for YIL members to get to know each other, discuss their common challenges, and share their perspectives on the industry.

As someone who oversees multiple managers, Santagato was excited to replicate those leadership discussions at M. Tucker to help his staff elevate their own skills. “I have to do this for my management team and do a leadership session,” he says. Santagato has already met with some managers about how they can think about leadership from a high-level perspective.