He got his start as a dishwasher for a breakfast restaurant at the age of 14, then held numerous positions at different foodservice establishments before joining Brinker International at 18. After working at Chili's as a line cook, he joined the company's Grady's American Grill chain as a kitchen manager and corporate trainer.
"I worked from 1985 to 1996 in various restaurants and was fortunate to travel from 1991 to 1996 opening new restaurants around the country," Wainwright says.
He then went to work for his father's custom fabrication company, making and installing commercial kitchen hoods and custom stainless steel products. Nine years later Wainwright moved to his wife's home state of Ohio and joined Breckenridge Kitchen Equipment and Design.
For the last eight years, he has handled project work from the planning stages to product specification all the way through ordering and installation. Wainwright is known for being very humble; someone who prefers to fly under the radar, despite his many years of experience in the industry.
FE&S: What's the key to successfully completing a project?
S.W. Managing details and accuracy are important. Also, having a strong support staff is invaluable. This is a tight-knit office with people who've been in the business longer than I have been, and they've helped me along the way.
FE&S: You are known for being very detail-oriented and hands-on with your projects. How does this benefit your customers?
S.W.: I think it gives them a sense of thoroughness. It lets them know that we're paying attention to their needs and what they want. Our leader, Dick Pohl, sets the standard, because he is very detail-oriented himself.
FE&S: What's the most important lesson you have learned in this role?
S.W.: There is always a way to find an answer to any problem. I have incredible resources in terms of the people I work with and regularly use them as resources to find answers. It's also important to communicate to customers and keep them informed on what we're doing.
FE&S: Why is building relationships — both internally with your fellow Breckenridge associates and externally with customers and supply chain partners — important?
S.W.: Everyone has their hand in the success of a project, it's not just me. The dealer works as a hub between manufacturers and operators. If we don't have good relationships, we can't be trusted to do the job right. Today, companies have to have customer service value-added to a project.
FE&S: What advice would you give new DSRs?
S.W.: Pay attention and never be afraid to ask questions or admit you don't know the answer. You can always find a solution, you just have to be willing to try. It pays to be humble.
FE&S: To what do you attribute your success in sales?
S.W.: Up until this award, there have been times that I don't feel successful. It's important to do the best and most efficient job possible by showing up and doing what's expected on a daily basis. I also count on the people who work here for help. It's a tremendous team effort; I don't do it all myself.