Jeff Bean, a sales representative for TriMark United East in South Attleboro, Mass., FE&S' DSR of the Month for February 2004, has certainly had the option of resting on his and his family's laurels. Instead, he decided to step up to the challenge of tradition - a tradition of excellence.
It was Bean's grandfather, Harry Halpern, who founded United Restaurant Equipment (the forerunner to United East) decades ago. His father, Norman Bean, served the company for more than 30 years as vice president.
"I needed to expand along with current customers as they became multi-unit operations."
Bean's widely respected work ethic stems from "seeing how my father treated customers and how other people in our company, including middle and upper management, treat customers. I always return their phone calls and, if they need something at the last minute, I get it to them. I provide a level of service that customers have grown to expect, but it's also something they appreciate."
They do, indeed. Bean was named TriMark United East's Harry Halpern Salesperson of the Year for 2002. He followed that up in 2003 by setting a company record for sales, personally accounting for $4 million of business despite the sour economy.
"I was definitely fortunate in that I had some customers who were opening up some very large restaurants [last year]," he said. "We were able to get all their non-food business."
Bean, 28, grew up in the family business, and started out working in the warehouse when he was 16 years old. He attended the University of Maryland and earned a degree in journalism. During summers and on holidays, he worked in the company's customer service department.
It was 1998 when Bean decided to join the firm full time. "I figured I'd better try it now and see if I liked it and if it was for me," he recalled.
His first sales assignment was a formidable one: opening a new territory in Newton and throughout the western suburbs of Boston. Next, Bean was asked to take over an existing territory, the south shore of Massachusetts. According to one executive, what Bean did was "take a great territory and make it greater."
"Really, it was just a matter of maintaining the really good customer base I had been given," noted Bean, "and then going out there and seeing people when they referred me to new customers. I needed to expand along with current customers as they became multi-unit operations."
He gave much of the credit to his colleagues. "A great deal of it has to do with how our company works internally. We have an amazing National Accounts department, which enables us to go out and get the new business from big national chains."
Bean's clients run the gamut from national accounts and multi-unit operators to independent family-owned restaurants, nursing homes, hospitals, country clubs, hotels and corporate cafeterias.
His average workday begins at around 7 a.m., when he arrives at his first account. By the end of a week, Bean will have racked up about 300 miles driving to 50 to 60 of his nearly 90 accounts. He'll speak with 20 or so others by phone, although he only spends about three hours a day in the firm's office.
Bean ends his day around 5 p.m., then works out of his home office writing up special orders and doing research. He lives 30 minutes from the office, in Medfield, Mass., with his longtime girlfriend and, as of last September, his wife, Amy.