Future Foodservice Leaders: Christopher East & Duane Guidry

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Describe the biggest challenge you have overcome.
East: Neither Duane or I are naturally good managers of people. We've both had to really learn how to tackle this aspect of running a growing company. Some of it has been trial and error. The intention has always been good, but there's no question we have had to learn quite a bit along the way.

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Guidry: The growth of Chrane has been a lot like a marriage between Chris and me. There has been planning for the future, managing a budget, maintaining a 'home', communication challenges and of course the occasional (maybe more than just occasional) bickering. We've really had to learn to be better communicators and better listeners with each other and to determine which battles are really worth fighting. All in all, 95 percent of the time we're on the same page. You'd probably enjoy being a fly on the wall that other 5 percent of the time!

What excites you most about the foodservice industry?
East: I think the role of a rep is pretty tough to define right now and our industry as a whole is in an interesting evolution right now. We're very mindful and try to be respectful of the other industry providers, such as the dealers, consultants and service agents. But at the same time, we're exploring what other avenues, services or technology we can provide beyond the traditional rep model to make us that much more valuable to our customers and manufacturers. It's an exciting time, knowing things are changing at such a rapid pace.

Guidry: The never-ending opportunities and challenges that arise through a high touch, people-based industry. Getting to constantly meet new people, grow relationships, learn new ways to approach the market while having so much fun makes this industry the perfect place for me.

If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Both: What's been done in the past doesn't have to be the only way to do things. When we started Chrane five years ago, we believed in our approach of limiting our business to six to eight manufacturers and were met with skepticism. Since then, we've had an enjoyable level of success, with a different model. We think the industry can be a little resistant to want to move the ball, just because things have been done a particular way in the past. Likewise though, that resistance has opened some doors for us, since we have been willing to go against the current.

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