Eric Hsieh has always enjoyed eating out. In fact, growing up, he rarely ate at home. "My family in Taiwan was in the foodservice industry, so that may have had something to do with it," he says.
Action Sales in Monterey Park, Calif., recommended Hsieh give foodservice equipment sales a shot. That was six years ago, and Hsieh has never looked back.After serving as an office manager for a microfiber supply company designing logos and making cold calls, his friend Johnson Yeh, store manager at
"When I started training here, I picked up the business relatively quickly because I've always taken note of things when dining out," says Hsieh.
His clientele includes a diverse book of business, with supermarkets and regional chains.
FE&S: You've gone from selling smallwares to being a senior equipment advisor. How do you make sure you are specifying the right piece of equipment?
EH: Communication is very important and asking the right questions helps narrow down the selection process.
Pricing is usually a good indicator of reliability, and premium equipment typically ends up having a lower cost of ownership in the long run. Experience helps me steer customers toward more reliable units with better local service.
FE&S: In addition to equipment sales, you train your colleagues on the latest and greatest equipment. Why is training so important?
EH: There's no manual or textbook that covers all the ins and outs of the foodservice industry. Much of it comes from your own experience or the experiences of others. Being able to share that with everyone through case studies helps our team solve similar issues or avoid making the same mistakes.
Continual learning of new equipment and supplies is also a huge part of our job description. Customers come to us with issues or problems [for which] they'd like a solution. Without constant training, the solutions we can draw on eventually become limited or outdated.
FE&S: What is your approach when something does not go right with a project or a delivery?
EH: My usual approach is to take a step back, look at the entire situation, and pinpoint what went wrong to see how we can fix the problem. I take one step at a time to find a solution that works best for my customer and my company. Being positive always helps, as well.
FE&S: What's the most important lesson you've learned?
EH: The most important lesson I've learned is to be proactive. Many of the problems we encounter can be prevented by asking more questions, being investigative and generally having more forethought. Finding and solving issues before they become problems makes for a smoother workflow and happier customers.
FE&S: What excites you most about the future of this industry?
EH: The trend toward greener equipment and better equipment efficiency. Rebate incentives, energy savings and higher efficiencies help create a scenario where everyone wins.
When I first started in the foodservice industry, only the expensive premium fryers had an Energy Star rating. Now there are value line fryers that qualify for Energy Star. I can't wait to see more equipment headed in this direction.