Building a Foundation for Design Project Collaboration

Tracy Mulqueen

Like distributors and dealers, design consultants represent a variety of business models. But while consultants are generally sole proprietors who bring their personal skills, design views, and operational approaches to projects, distribution companies and dealerships are led by individuals who have specific business acumen and design knowledge and are accountable to corporate structures and employees. This means that distributors and dealers have effective operational systems and service programs in place that can be of great assistance to consultants and operators during the facilities design process. One simple example are the strong customer service teams distributors have to prevent or solve equipment delays and provide client support before and during construction.

Distributors and dealers have provided tremendous support to design teams as they’ve planned and accomplished projects, and some even have designers on staff to provide even more guidance. Going forward, there are many more opportunities for FEDA members to work with design consultants and operators in ways that can lead to lucrative design project collaborations between these groups over time.

Collaboration can evolve naturally as distributors or dealers regularly provide the kinds of support that various types of consultants or operators need in different situations, like stepping in to track communication between architects and operators, mediating between these groups, or mapping out potential design or funding challenges and back-up solutions for all parties. Another area where FEDA members can bring value is in their knowledge of how technology is advancing foodservice equipment and design, including  how cashless systems, mobile ordering, pop-up restaurants, and driverless delivery influence commercial kitchen design. Also, as Oswalt’s Huff Harper notes in this issue, customized project management software can enable a distributor or dealer to track critical data and each step of a project on behalf of design project teams, “keeping everyone on the same page” and providing a way for everyone to interface.

Each time a distributor or dealer brings a high level of knowledge and support in these areas, they demonstrate the leadership, flexibility, skills, and resources they can bring to all kinds of design projects, which can open doors to new working relationships and more productive ways of operating for everyone.

This issue highlights ways distributors and dealers are working with design consultants and operators and showcases ideas that may lead to larger collaborative work for FEDA members. No matter the project or parties involved, distributors and dealers can provide the leadership and support needed to make a design project successful.