Ariel Potash has been around commercial kitchens his entire life, with family members who work as chefs and caterers, including his wife.
Culinary Depot, a Monsey, N.Y.-based foodservice equipment and supplies dealership about 12 years ago, he tried to recruit his nephew to serve on the sales team. "About six years ago, I decided to leave my job as a stock broker, since I knew that wasn't where my passion was, and join the sales team," Potash says.After his uncle, Sholem Potash, created
It was obvious the first week that he made the right move. His third day on the job, Potash designed his first kitchen. He sells everything from heavy equipment to smallwares to a diverse client base that includes healthcare, school, restaurant and supermarket operations.
FE&S: What aspects from your background as a stock broker help you today?
AP: My goal and philosophy in dealing with people differentiates me from typical salespeople. When I go to a customer, I'm not there to sell a product but to find out their needs. I'm a solutions-based person who wants to talk about their issues. I don't push products, and that's why I have a broad customer base.
FE&S: Building relationships is a cornerstone to your success. Describe your approach to building lasting customer relationships.
AP: The key to lasting customer relationships is to do the opposite of what a typical salesman does. The objective is not just to get in the door. I need to feel that the relationship will be a good match in terms of helping the customer. I don't want to bid for the best price or compete to see who can complete the job the fastest. In sales, people are afraid of problems, but in this line of work, problems are inevitable. I'm honest with customers by telling them that I can't promise a problem-free project, but I guarantee that I will be there to deal with any issue that arises. Also, I make a point of seeing the job, project or equipment sale through completely. Word of mouth has been paramount to my success. My customers bring me other customers. Still, I have a lot of room to grow, since building relationships takes time.
FE&S: Describe your business philosophy for our readers.
AP: When I visit a customer, the first rule is that I listen to them, get their story and see what they need. The second part is to read into what they're saying. A customer may say they want one thing, but after listening carefully, I often discover that they need something else. As a result, my customers have full faith and trust that I'm only going to sell them what they need.
FE&S: What's the most important lesson you've learned since joining the foodservice industry?
AP: It is not just about the quantity of sales, but also the quality of the actual sale. Quality in this case refers to a well-thought-out concept and design, along with a properly equipped and thoroughly executed sale.
FE&S: What do you look for in a business partner?
AP: I look to deal with people who are realistic in what they want and those with integrity.