With deep expertise in their respective fields, the 2023 FE&S Top Achievers rise above their peers as they continually move the bar for themselves, their teams and, ultimately, the foodservice industry. This year’s Top Achievers are unapologetic about their passion for their careers, their families, and the industry at large. The way each of these individuals advances every area they touch, from clients to team members, is truly inspirational.
Good advice is good advice — regardless of the source.
Thomas “TJ” Coker, director of operations with Villa Park, Ill.-based Coker Service, has a lifelong connection to the foodservice equipment industry. His uncle, Mike Coker, founded Coker Service in 1984 and TJ started his career with the firm straight out of high school.
Genuine, down to earth, positive, mission driven and compassionate — these are but a few words friends and colleagues use to describe Shannon Solomon. She’s also known for being a servant leader and cheerleader for her school nutrition team at Aurora Public Schools (APS) in Colorado. Solomon wants her team to be the best at whatever they want for themselves. Her leadership approach is straightforward: Hold others accountable with consistency, support, training and love.
Everyone has stories about how they entered the foodservice industry, but Juan Martinez considers his unique. It is also a history-making journey, as he was part of the team that pioneered the application of industrial engineering and ergonomics in foodservice more than 40 years ago.
“Lead with love.” That’s the motto Jamie Arguello, president of Gradys Foodservice & Equipment, continues to follow every day — and she pays no attention to any naysayers.
In an industry of impressive leaders, these five FE&S Top Achievers stand out due to their ability to challenge themselves, their teams and, ultimately, positively influence the foodservice industry at large. Many of this year’s crop of Top Achievers have surprised themselves along the way as their careers and life situations took them on unexpected journeys.
When KaTom Restaurant Supply’s co-founder, Tim Bible, passed away in 2001, his wife and business partner, Patricia Bible, had some tough decisions to make. Not the least of those was what to do with the company. Under the circumstances, selling would have been the easiest and, for many, the most obvious route to take. Doing so crossed her mind but only for a few minutes.
Menu innovation and marketing may be critical for differentiating brands and driving traffic, but it’s equipment and related technologies that represent the real secret weapons for creating thriving, profitable restaurant companies with measurable competitive advantages.