A Q&A with Burl Finkelstein, Executive Vice President of Operations and General Counsel, and Brett Mitchell, Vice President of Research & Design, Kason Industries, Inc.

Kason utilizes rapid prototyping equipment to create new products.

We tend to think of a foodservice operation as being in trouble if something major breaks down. But can hardware parts that malfunction also have a major impact on a restaurant’s operation?

Burl Finkelstein: Yes. People don’t usually connect breakdowns to hardware, but if your job is to get things out of a walk-in cooler and if the door drags the floor, making it hard to use…that can impact staff morale and general attitude.

Can hardware that malfunctions also have an effect on food safety?

Brett Mitchell: Yes, leaving your walk-in door open or working with one that’s not sealed properly can cause moisture accumulation, making it wet around the gasket. I’ve seen mold form all over a gasket before and that’s obviously not a good situation for food storage.

BF: If the door’s staying open on a refrigerated unit, insects and rodents can enter. If a freezer door is not sealing well or is staying open, the unit can ice up and actually stop it from running.

Aren’t all replacement parts really similar?

BM: Definitely not. We conduct performance testing on various competitor hardware to make sure Kason products last longer. In one instance, we compared a common reach-in hinge. Kason hinges surpassed 500,000 cycles, while the competitor hinge would not perform over 70,000 cycles. That product would need to be replaced much more often than Kason’s costing you valuable time and money.

BF: It’s easy with today’s global economy to make parts anywhere in the world. But the knowledge behind what makes a part good and makes a part last — that you get from decades of customer contact — just isn’t there when you buy replacement parts that are simply manufactured for a lower price.

Slemp 181213 2545The Kason 1245 Hinge (shown after casting) is one of the most recognizable products in the market.

Why are Kason products more reliable than other companies’ products?

BF: Everything Kason makes is tested to a specific life cycle — generally a quarter-million cycles — to be able to bear load and overload without failure. We have a test lab on site where we test all new designs and production parts. We also have a full-time quality control staff that tests all component parts going into our products to make sure they’re meeting the original specifications.

Besides great products, what else does Kason do to meet the needs of OEM customers?

BM: We actually provide a lot of technical engineering assistance to our customers in working with them to ensure the equipment they design is effectively supported by our products. In the end, it’s our job to make hardware that makes our customers’ products look and work exceptionally well.

BF: We’re able to constantly evaluate changes and needs in the marketplace with both our sales and engineering teams who work together closely. This knowledge can then provide our customers with a different point of view that ultimately contributes to their success.

Slemp 181213 2230 v2Kason 58 latch bodies loaded for polishing (left) and after final assembly (right).

So while other products might look like Kason products, they can’t perform like Kason products.

BF: Right. The saying is that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We’re the company that the copyists copy, so we must be setting the standard.