A foodservice lifer, Danny Collis is principal of the Collis Group, a Richmond Hill, Ontario-based manufacturers’ rep firm. Danny got his start in the foodservice industry at 15 years old working as a bus boy and progressed from there. After spending several years working for Garland Canada, Danny became an independent manufacturer’s rep in the 1990s before eventually starting his own firm. Today the Collis Group is nine foodservice professionals strong and represents a variety of foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturers in Canada. In addition, Danny is president of the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry and in 2011 he received FE&S’ Top Achiever-Rep Award.
FE&S: What keeps you working in the foodservice industry?
Danny Collis: What keeps me working in this industry is people! No two customers are the same and I can’t get enough of what drives them. Problem solving for each facility is always a challenge and I like being brought into help.
FE&S: Who was the person that influenced your career most?
Danny Collis: A couple of people had an influence on my career, including my uncle Ken Hamilton from Hamilton Agencies and Neville Jeens from WD Colledge. I admired Neville for his ethics. While I was working at Garland in Canada our company took a couple of his major lines away. Because I was still working for a manufacturer, I did not yet understand the impact that had on his rep firm! Today I would have been more sympathetic.
FE&S: What aspect of your career gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Danny Collis: The fact that I have lost a lot of orders over time for one reason or another but have never turned on a customer. I’m very easy to deal with and I don’t screw people. I have been screwed but feel the high road is better.
FE&S: If you were not working in foodservice, what would you be doing?
Danny Collis: I would be a professional golfer! It is my passion and obsession and I think with a coach I could compete at a higher level.
FE&S: What type of charitable activities are you involved in?
Danny Collis: Our local MAFSI chapter is involved with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Canada as one of our members has a son who is afflicted with this disease and has had a lung transplant. This is a group effort. I have done work with Variety Village here also.
FE&S: How has the role of the independent manufacturer’s rep evolved since you first got into this line of work?
Danny Collis: The role of the manufacturers’ rep has evolved tremendously. As manufacturers’ reps we are asked to do way more for less pay. We advocate to keep commissions steady and not have them reduced. I think since the recession many jobs fall under this category. We are all being asked to do so much more for less. At MAFSI we created a list of all the services reps provide and it ended up being pages long. This is why it is important that our members understand their own value to this process.
FE&S: What will reps need to do in the future to be successful?
Danny Collis: Reps need to stay relevant with the way they go to market. Reps need to be unchallengeable for manufacturers and the way they go to market. Reps need to stay up on industry trends and stay current. Reps need to be the best professionals they can be because manufacturers will never question success.