FEDA Gold Awards - The Application Period is Now Closed

FEDA is again excited to be recognizing the unique achievements of distributor and manufacturer members during the Gold Awards Dinner at the 2021 FEDA Annual Conference, which will be held Sept. 21-24 in Nashville, Tennessee. All winning companies will be featured in FEDA News & Views, the First Thing newsletter, social media and other eblasts, and receive an insignia designating their specific honor to use in their own communications.

How to Apply

For specific awards criteria and to apply, please see these links:

Model Workplace Awards. One award to be presented to a distributor or dealer member and one award to a manufacturer member that has created a dynamic and unique workplace culture that attracts and retains talent and develops future industry leaders.

Extraordinary Service Awards. One award to be presented to a distributor or dealer member and one award to a manufacturer member whose customer-service program provides an extraordinary experience for operators, suppliers or dealers, and service reps and has contributed to the company’s success.

Champion for Young Leaders Awards. One award to be presented to a distributor or dealer member and one award to a manufacturer member whose model leadership and achievements have promoted the attraction and retention of talented young professionals.

Ascending Young Industry Leaders Awards. Presented to two young distribution professionals and two young manufacturing professionals, age 21-33, who have demonstrated growth in leadership ability in innovation; project management; professional or employee development; or community impact.

Accomplished Young Industry Leaders Awards. Presented to two young distribution professionals and two young manufacturing professionals, age 34-46, who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and accomplishments in innovative company initiatives; research; product, services or systems development; employee development; or other unique accomplishments that have contributed to the company’s success.

The deadline for submission is June 30.

By Rita Rousseau
Contributing Writer

In a year that has been filled with hardships for so many companies, and the larger foodservice industry in general, many bright spots remain. At the FEDA 2020 Virtual Annual Conference in September, the association celebrated many of these bright spots with its first-ever Gold Awards presentation.

The program, which closed out the conference, celebrated many of FEDA’s distributor and manufacturer members who have pushed the industry forward and created a culture capable of withstanding the modern-day challenges created by COVID-19 and the changing market.

The companies and individuals honored at the Gold Awards were each given a special Tiffany glass award plate commemorating their achievement, which FEDA hopes will serve as a reminder of the great work they do and inspire all members to continue their efforts to elevate their organizations and the industry as a whole.

FEDA will distribute 2021 Gold Awards applications on April 30, 2021. The application deadline will be July 21, 2021.

Extraordinary Service — Dealer/Distributor

United Restaurant Equipment Company 
Raleigh, North Carolina
Eric Margulies

“To be the experts in building successful layouts for our customers, it’s most important to ask the right questions, and to get to know every operator, supplier or service agent individually to truly understand their challenges,” Margulies says. It helps that URECO staff come from many backgrounds – some began as chefs, cooks or bartenders, while others are former restaurant owners or managers. Learning from customer feedback is also key: “Whether we receive a complaint or an accolade, we always discuss with our staff how things went well or could have been made better.”

URECO’s leaders also value what they learn from other dealers. “FEDA has allowed us to openly discuss with our dealer community and manufacturing partners all aspects of our business, to bounce off ideas that are for the greater good in foodservice,” Margulies says.

Extraordinary Service — Manufacturer

Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Steve Maahs

“The foundation of our customer service program is understanding that customer experiences are an accumulation of all touch points in an end-to-end journey,” Maahs explains. “At every touch point, we are committed to providing operators and dealers personalized support, resources and timely response to ensure customer satisfaction in partnership with  them.”

It all adds up to what Maahs calls “a complete system of support before, during and after the sale, including customer service, technical service and culinary support.”

Model Workplace — Dealer/Distributor

Tundra FMP/Diversified Foodservice Supply 
Denver, Colorado
Keith Kelly

Creating a company culture in which every employee’s input is valued doesn’t happen by accident. Tundra FMP staff meet monthly to review company objectives, sales successes and performance metrics. Regular workshops are offered on the foodservice industry as well as professional and personal skills. A “Culture Crew” arranges employee events and team-building outings, like packing lunches for a food drive or picking up trash along the highway. “We invest in the future of our employees,” Kelly says. “That’s why over half of our people are working in a different role from when they started.”

Model Workplace — Manufacturer

Hatco Corporation
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dave Rolston 
President and CEO

“Our board’s goal is to promote from within the organization, so the current leaders spend a good portion of their time mentoring future leaders,” Rolston says. “Midsize organizations don’t always have as much room for upward mobility as large corporations, but our goal is to find the talent within our ranks, then promote them once they have demonstrated their capabilities. We empower our team members to work hard, work smart and try things. They have latitude to make decisions and take risks. Future leaders appreciate challenging environments like this, and customers keep coming back.”

In addition, Rolston says “the most significant thing we have ever done” to create a model workplace was setting up an employee ownership program. “It not only shares the wealth, but drives a level of engagement that’s second to none.”

Champion for Young Leaders — Dealer/Distributor

Stafford-Smith, Inc. 
Kalamazoo, Michigan
David Stafford Jr.

“My philosophy is that your promotion is based on ability and performance, not longevity,” Stafford says, noting that a good number of Stafford-Smith’s millennial staff members hold management and supervisory roles. There’s a system in place to nurture new hires, with human resources appointing a mentor to help them acclimate and navigate within the company. Transparency and an emphasis on teamwork are the keys to deeper employee engagement, Stafford believes.

“We allow the team to see the big picture, so all know what effect each and every individual has,” he explains. “Everything is based on the team; everyone, management or not, has the same pull to get the job done.”

Champion for Young Leaders — Manufacturer

InterMetro Industries/Metro
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
John Nackley
President and CEO

“InterMetro has several progressive programs and policies to foster employee engagement and retention,” Nackley says. Company executives conduct what he describes as “an annual deep dive into the performance, engagement and potential of all our salaried employees, with an eye to furthering development for future roles.”

There’s a formal mentoring program, including the leadership mentoring that Nackley personally facilitates; he has created and taught at leadership development sessions, and he meets with potential future leaders and ensures they’re participating in programs to heighten their business acumen. InterMetro also sends promising employees to leadership development and training opportunities available from manufacturing associations and colleges, and pays them to participate in a community-wide program called Leadership Wilkes-Barre.  Finally, it has reached out to help develop leaders industrywide, hosting the first FEDA Young Industry Leaders training and development program in 2018. “We see the vital need to do this for the future health of our industry,” Nackley says. “FEDA’s investment of time and energy into this initiative helps all members of the association.”

Ascending Young Leaders

Presented to young distribution professionals who have demonstrated growth in leadership ability in innovation, project management, professional or employee development, or community impact.

Linda Tell 
Sales Executive 
Sam Tell Companies 
Farmingdale, New York

“I’ve always been very cognizant of the fact that I’m the boss’s daughter; I never want to assume a role I didn’t earn through merit,” Tell says. “My manager – Heather Kogan, our vice president of sales – has been crucial to my success. She challenges me to take on more responsibility, whether it’s a client-facing interaction or leading an internal initiative.”

Tell is proud of having stepped up to fill what she saw as gaps in company innovation (with new marketing initiatives like email campaigns, blog content, flyers and catalogs) and employee development (taking the lead in training new hires, compiling how-to guides and resource documents, and helping new workers learn the ropes). As she develops her leadership skills, Tell says she gets moral support from FEDA Young Industry Leaders: “There’s an entire community of young leaders that will serve as this industry’s next generation. Our industry landscape is changing drastically, and I’m glad I’ll have colleagues across the country to lean on for advice and support. FEDA reminds me that I’m not alone.”

Eric Santagato 
Vice President of Distribution Sales, 
Singer Equipment Company 
Elverson, Pennsylvania

Santagato has been in foodservice equipment for less than five years, but in that time, he’s risen from district sales management at the M. Tucker division to a brand-new vice president position at its parent, Singer Equipment. There, he’s charged with merging distribution and street sales into a unified sales force for the entire organization.

Although he is early in his career at M. Tucker, Santagato has already made an impact. “One of my first tasks was to build the training program for new hires,” he says. “We put together a sales playbook, sales role play, industry training, product training, sales training. It turned out to be really successful.”

Among of the best things about his mentors at Singer Equipment, Santagato says, is their focus on building relationships. “I’ve learned from strong industry professionals who have tons of contacts,” he says. “I’ve been taught the importance of relationships within the company, with customers, with competitors, with people in the industry.” That’s why FEDA is so important to him. “I went to a training at Metro with John Nackley, and just being in the same room with other young professionals and rising stars was really enlightening,” he says. “It’s a huge benefit to share insights and learn what others in the industry are doing to make their companies better.”

Accomplished Young Leader

Presented to a young distribution professional who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in innovative company initiatives; research; product, services or systems development; employee development; or other unique accomplishments that have contributed to the company’s success.

Marcus Lyon 
General Manager 
Hotel and Restaurant Supply 
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Lyon credits his employers – the Greene family, third-generation owners of Hotel and Restaurant Supply – for his chance to prove himself by establishing a new company division in a new state. “The Greene family allow our divisions to operate very independently, they empower their leaders to make decisions that are best for the division, and they’re very supportive when needed,” he says. Lyon’s wide-ranging jobs within the company over the past 13 years – which include outside sales, recruiting and closing key accounts, project management, and CAD drawing – proved to be solid preparation for his new role in management and team building. “I’m so proud of the team we’ve built in our new division,” Lyon says. “Our entire team came into the industry with no experience, and it’s been fun to watch them develop into solution providers and knowledgeable associates.