More Than a Numbers Game

We at FE&S have the privilege of being the custodians of some of the foodservice equipment and supplies industry's most time-honored awards. Awards such as Dealer of the Year, Hall of Fame, Top Achiever, DSR of the Year, Facility Design Project of the Year and even Best in Class allow us to rightly recognize some of the foodservice industry's best and brightest performers.

Our team takes the stewardship of these awards very seriously and understands the presentation of these awards represents a time-honored tradition for the industry. That's apparent in the reactions of new award winners and with the fondness with which previous recipients recall their moment in the spotlight.

What gets me about the discussion of the awards is that so many people seem to think that earning recognition in this industry is predicated almost solely on generating the most sales, posting the biggest revenue gains year over year or even who has the biggest market share.

Yes, sales revenues are an important metric we can use to measure a company's success. Equally important, though, is how a company goes about doing its business and the way it interacts with its peers, colleagues and supply chain partners alike; and the corporate culture it creates in going to market. Companies that pursue business opportunities with only their organizations in mind, paying little attention to how their approach will impact customers or suppliers, have a limited ceiling when it comes to how successful they can become.

If we've learned any one thing from Charlie Sheen it's that business partners will tolerate a take-no-prisoners approach to growing your business only up to a point. Eventually you become better known for how you do your job instead of the results you provide, no matter how jaw-droppingly wonderful they may be. Simply put, today's elite companies not only deliver bottom line results, they do it by creating value for all of their business partners.

Such is the case with FE&S' 2011 Dealer of the Year R.W. Smith & Co. The employee owners of R.W. Smith have a keen understanding of their business model and are relentless in their support of it through training and other means.

As a result the entire company — from the receptionist to the warehouse staff and everyone in between — is able to focus with laser-like precision on creating value on the customer's terms. They know the role they play for their customers is much more than providing a product for a price and they do more than drop their suppliers' brown boxes at the operator's back door.

Thanks to a corporate culture that is uncharacteristically open for a foodservice equipment and supplies dealership the employees all have access to the data that allows them to track the company's progress in both good times and bad. By excelling in these other areas the dealership has grown its annual revenue to almost four times what it was when the employees bought it back in 1997 and R.W. Smith remains poised for continued growth and success — by most any measure.

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