Carl Casino likes to think he learned the foodservice business from the inside out. In his 20s, Casino went into the restaurant liquidations business with his father, purchasing used equipment from defunct operations, rebuilding it, then reselling it to operators.
“I went so far as to get a license to rebuild and repair refrigeration equipment,” he says.
After about 20 years, Casino joined a smallwares business in New Jersey, which he discovered wasn’t his cup of tea. Seven years ago, after being introduced to staff members at Culinary Depot, Casino joined the company as a sales associate.
He currently works with a vast client base that includes a concentration in healthcare along with high-profile New York City chefs. Following Hurricane Sandy, Casino concentrated on helping many foodservice operators along the coastline rebuild from their tragic losses over a period of several years.
FE&S: How do you translate what you learn from your high-end commercial restaurant clients to help your healthcare clients?
CC: I like to think that the end product is what really matters. People are eating food at the end of it all, whether it’s prepared by a well-known chef or staff in a hospital. If I design a kitchen properly, those eating the meals will appreciate the higher-quality product produced from a well-put-together kitchen. It’s our job to look at how to broaden menus and make food more appetizing.
FE&S: How do you manage the details to ensure everything goes well on a project?
CC: A lot of it has to do with the organization of the company we work for. When I place an order for equipment, I take the time to ensure every detail is covered. The back end of our organization is pretty tight and has caught mistakes prior to these becoming a problem.
FE&S: You describe yourself as being hands-on and mechanically oriented. How does that impact the way you work with your customers?
CC: All of us who do this job well think of ourselves as problem solvers. I don’t mind getting down and dirty in the kitchen, because there are a lot of mechanicals involved. If you have a great understanding of mechanics, it goes a long way in explaining to a customer why one piece of equipment works better than another in their specific application.
FE&S: In recent years, some of your clients have experienced tragic losses as a result of Hurricane Sandy. While helping them get back up and running, what lessons did you learn?
CC: I certainly found out that we needed to make things happen quickly and find a way to get the business not just built but back up and running so they could make money again. It’s one thing to invest in a new restaurant and be in fabrication for a year or more, but a restaurant that’s out of business is losing money every day. We focused on the equipment that was in stock.
FE&S: How do you stay ahead of the competition to earn customers’ trust and their repeat business?
CC: I’ve been in this business long enough to remember when equipment was very simple. The only thing you could do was sell it cheap and deliver it fast. This is no longer the case. Now when a customer orders equipment, it’s important to make them aware of why a cheaper model may not produce the best product or how a certain technology will do a better job. Educating customers earns their trust and then price doesn’t become such an issue.