Joe Schmitt has been the co-owner of Rapids Wholesale Equipment for almost 20 years. Rapids has a strong reputation among foodservice equipment and supplies dealers, as well as in the industry at large, for its relationship-oriented business model and strong focus on customer service. In addition to his time spent in the foodservice industry, Joe also has a solid financial industry background. A certified public accountant, he served as the vice president of Heartland Financial USA and was also a senior manager at Arthur Andersen & Company. Joe is an active member of the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA), serving on the board of directors for the past four years and being elected an officer last March.
FE&S: When traveling for business, what is one of your favorite pastimes?
Joe Schmitt: I enjoy spending time with my wife Geri when she can travel, and we really try to identify good restaurants that the locals enjoy.
FE&S: What aspect of your career gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Joe Schmitt: Seeing young people learn the industry and get excited about the potential to succeed.
FE&S: Other than your own, name the foodservice company that you admire most and why?
Joe Schmitt: True Manufacturing. It’s a family-owned business that seems to have more pricing integrity than anyone in the industry.
FE&S: What was your first job in foodservice?
Joe Schmitt: "Dishpig" — I worked in high school for a place known as Roberts Smorgasboard 40 Feet of Fine Food. Robert has gone on to become a very successful casino operator and we just completed a project for him in Northwest Iowa.
FE&S: Knowing what you know now, would you still pursue a career in foodservice?
Joe Schmitt: Yes. I feel fortunate to have been able to have the freedom and responsibility of a small business owner.
FE&S: If I were just starting out in the foodservice industry, what advice would you give me?
Joe Schmitt: Educate yourself, get to know as many factory people and manufacturer reps as possible, and be a solution provider.
Click here to read part one of the interview with Joe Schmitt.
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