After four years in the Army, Tim Lochel joined the National Guard in 1998 to pursue a civilian career. At the time, he wasn’t sure where he’d land. Lochel was soon hired by a company as an apprentice to learn foodservice equipment repair, which allowed him to utilize his mechanical skills.

Tim-LochelA decade later, following his third deployment in the National Guard, Lochel decided to pursue other opportunities. “I then had my own equipment repair business for about three years but found out I couldn’t keep up with the demand and was starting to burn out,” he says. “I had to hire trainees, and many didn’t work out.”

Elmer Schultz Services had been pursuing Lochel over the years, and he decided to take them up on a service manager job offer three years ago. “It was a good fit, so I joined the team,” he says.

Here, Lochel discusses different aspects of being a service agent and what foodservice operators should know about the equipment they work with every day.

What do you think all foodservice operators should know about equipment?

They should review their warranty information, as one of the biggest challenges we have is trying to educate customers on what’s covered under warranty and what isn’t. For the most part, manufacturers do a good job providing this information, but foodservice operators don’t always read it in detail to understand what’s covered. Also, many problems can be circumvented if equipment is installed properly. The documentation should be read and understood, which doesn’t always happen. Currently, we’re informing customers that equipment should be installed by Master Certified CFESA technicians.

What is the most common question you’re asked by your customers?

The most common questions we hear are about labor rates, the price of parts, why a part failed and how to prevent future equipment failures.

What is the best way to keep up to date on equipment technology?

The manufacturers send out technical service bulletins and new product releases, so I set aside time to read all documentation. I then float emails to technicians so they have the necessary insight on any equipment changes. Typically, these are subtle, but 15 changes on one piece of equipment within a year can be a big change over time.

Why did you want to get into servicing foodservice equipment?

When I was growing up, I was very interested in auto mechanics and have always had a strong mechanical background like my dad. I thought this career was a great opportunity to utilize the skills I already had. I didn’t want to be an auto mechanic, as tinkering with cars is my hobby.