Troy Jacobsen's foodservice career may be considered one of the best-rounded in the industry.
He grew up working in restaurants, including a family-owned independent operation outside of Rochester, Minn. and a small chain in the Twin Cities. The majority of his time was spent cooking. This background, along with a degree in manufacturing engineering management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, provided valuable training for Jacobsen's career in sales and project management at Hockenbergs' Eagan, Minn.-based location.
"I started on the showroom floor here 15 years ago, then worked in outside sales before becoming a project manager," Jacobsen says. "I've done a little bit of everything."
Jacobsen serves as the lead salesperson for all public/ private bid sales and schools in the Eagan branch. His diverse clientele includes stadiums, commissaries, casinos, colleges and churches.
FE&S: What goes into writing a good equipment spec?
TJ: There are at least ten necessary items that are clear and defined in a specification, such as the model number and proper description. When choosing equipment, it's important to consider how it will be used by the customer and the budget. Equipment should not be overpriced or overwhelming for the customer. Also, seeking out the best warranties means I'm looking out for customers.
FE&S: What traits do all successful projects have in common?
TJ: Successful projects include follow-through and dedication. I take a lot of personal ownership in each job from start to finish and never make assumptions.
FE&S: As budgets and time constraints get tighter, how has your approach to project management evolved to ensure quality isn't compromised and no details fall through the cracks?
TJ: I make every effort to take advantage of today's technologies. We have daily receiving reports and sales orders sent electronically. I also receive e-mails in the morning to let me know what orders are in. I check e-mails on my phone, tablet and computer constantly, which helps with checks and balances and provides the full picture of what's happening. With multiple projects, it's important to stay on top of things. And I'm fortunate to be able to rely on my great memory for details.
FE&S: When problems arise on a project — say something shows up scratched or incorrectly sized — what's the best way to rectify the situation?
TJ: When a problem arises, we work with the manufacturer and/or rep groups to solve the issue the best we can. How we handle the situation depends on the damage. We make a point to try and uncrate and review all equipment in our warehouse. I'll make sure any damage is documented with photos. This is where today's technology comes in handy.
FE&S: Describe how your role as a contract sales person has evolved.
TJ: I began handling smaller projects with two or three pieces of equipment. As I learned more about the business and became more comfortable with the process, I stepped up to oversee multimillion dollar operations. Now I'm working on stadiums, malls, ballparks, university dining facilities and — one of my favorites — a brewery.