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DSR of the Month, July 2015: Mark Claus,Project Manager/Sales Engineer, Breckenridge Kitchen Equipment & Design, Huron, Ohio

Mark Claus always knew he would have a career in the foodservice industry in some capacity, after working as a kid in his family’s steak and seafood restaurant. “I worked in every position at the restaurant, and always thought I would run one someday,” he says.

Mark-ClausAfter graduating from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration with a concentration in design and facilities management, Claus realized he could remain in the industry he loved but in a different capacity. He spent about one year working for a foodservice consulting firm before eventually signing on at Breckenridge Kitchen Equipment & Design. He has been with the company for 25 years, currently as project manager/sales engineer.

From design to installation, Claus’ colleagues say he is the epitome of a full-service DSR for his clients, which include general restaurants, indoor waterpark resorts, hotels and healthcare facilities.

FE&S: In your own words, define a good foodservice design. What attributes does it have? How does it support the operation?

MC: A good design has to incorporate the specific wants and needs of the client, while at the same time providing the flexibility that the customer may not know they need. I am always careful not to over specify. The term value engineering is used in our business all the time and, while some see this concept as negative, I see it as adding value to the project. Our customers’ budgets need to be taken into consideration.

FE&S: You’re known for being very hands on with your projects, often bringing your tools to the job site. How does this benefit your company and your customers?

MC: I don’t do service work, but if something relatively simple needs to get done and I’m on site, I can usually take care of it. This quick resolution makes everyone happy.

FE&S: How does your experience working in the family restaurant help you serve your customers today?

MC: Having an operations background and spending a lot of time working in restaurants has helped in all aspects of my work, since it gives me a good perspective in talking to clients about how their operations work or how to get from Point A to Point B.

FE&S: Your client base includes a lot of hotels, indoor waterpark resorts and other large, complex operations. What’s the key to successfully managing these high-profile projects?

MC: The projects I work on are design/build, and our goal is to provide value-added services to our customers. Developing a close relationship with clients is key in terms of solving
challenges quickly and making required modifications in a timely manner.

FE&S: What advice would you give someone who’s considering going into your line of work?

MC: I recommend being open to learning about new products and technologies in the industry. It’s also important to build relationships with industry leaders, reps and manufacturers to assist in getting the job done. The importance of being really attentive to clients and listening to their needs cannot be overstated.