Alto-Shaam President and COO Steve Maahs Believes Unprecedented Situations Create Opportunities for Growth, Learning and Improvement

Steve Maahs is part of the second generation of family ownership at Alto-Shaam, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of multi-cook ovens, holding cabinets, blast chillers and other foodservice equipment.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve heard during the past year-and-a-half?
It’s not a specific piece of advice I heard, but what has stood out to me during the past year-and-a-half is the value of benchmarking and information sharing. Being able to share, network and engage with other industry business leaders and peers as we all navigated the pandemic and its impacts was crucial. I am a big believer in benchmarking anyway, but the value was exponential in the last 18 months.

What are some ways your business has pivoted during the pandemic and ensuing supply chain disruption?
During the pandemic, Alto-Shaam has done a great job working to enhance our customer experience at every touchpoint. Part of this has included investing in high-quality technology to meet customers where they prefer to be reached – whether in person at a demo or tradeshow or virtually through a webinar or video consultation. On the supply chain side, thanks to our culture of continuous improvement and solutions-driven thinking, Alto-Shaam has been able to successfully mitigate significant supply chain issues. Early on, we invested in materials, increased safety stocks and established commitments with our suppliers. We continue to monitor these levels daily and respond as needed.

What is something you wish your organization had done differently or implemented more quickly during the pandemic? What did that experience teach you about managing future disruptions and downturns?
There is nothing that comes to mind when I think about what Alto-Shaam could have done differently or implemented more quickly during the pandemic. Overall, I feel we managed the pandemic and all of its challenges as best we could with no playbook, blueprint or history to reference. What I did learn was to be agile, observant and communicative when working through unprecedented situations. I plan to take the same approach in this new world with its new set of challenges of disruptions and downturns. The key is to flip the definition of challenge altogether and see challenges as opportunities for growth, learning and improvement.

Can you tell us about one of your products that is responding especially well to the problems facing operators, such as the labor shortage or the migration to new business models?
In August, we introduced our Vector H Series Wide Multi-Cook Ovens to the industry. An advancement in the multi-cook category and expansion of the already successful Vector H Series Oven line, these ovens feature wider chambers to now cook 16-inch pizzas. Designed to solve a number of problems for operators, these ovens are compact, ventless and waterless. This significantly maximizes space and reduces operating costs – making it easy to introduce or enhance a foodservice program with limited space. Additionally, these ovens feature programmable recipes and ChefLinc remote oven management to significantly reduce labor and training time.

Although the industry has gone through a tough period, it energized new foodservice concepts and ways of reaching consumers. What excites you about the industry and working with dealers going forward?
Going forward, I am excited to continue investing in innovation and manufacturing products that address evolving industry trends and customer demands. While others in the industry may have scaled back investments in innovation during the pandemic, Alto-Shaam saw it as a time to reinvest and develop solutions for our customers. With so many new innovations now available and coming soon from Alto-Shaam across multiple categories, operations of all sizes will be able to find equipment that enables them to differentiate and grow their business in today’s competitive climate. That’s what gets me excited, working with our dealer partners to meet the needs of our customers and exceed their expectations.