Majoring in industrial organizational psychology at California State University in Long Beach and simultaneously working as a trainer and bar manager for a restaurant company was instrumental in Gilles Brochard's career at TriMark R.W. Smith.
"The restaurant I worked for at the time was an R.W. Smith account, so I knew the rep and dealt with their products," Brochard says. "When I finished college, I wanted to be in the industry in a different capacity, so I learned about the company and reached out to them."
With TriMark R.W. Smith since graduating college in 2002, Brochard's book of business focuses mainly on high-end restaurants and emerging regional chains.
FE&S: You have both high-end restaurants and emerging chains as clients. They tend to approach the industry in different ways. How are they alike?
GB: There are definitely similarities. With the majority of people that I call on, it is extremely trend- and chef-driven. Many look to retail and what the top restaurants in the country and internationally are doing to stay on par with trends. This is definitely the deciding factor in terms of products and ideas.
FE&S: How do you go about translating a customer's idea into reality?
GB: I find out as much as I can about the concept and goals, then try to drive the conversation toward a realistic end result. As I get information on how they want things to look, that's when I choose products to fit that mold. It's not just about the aesthetics, as this may not be cost-effective or practical. It's important to provide solutions and ideas that make sense and have longevity.
FE&S: How do you define a good tabletop?
GB: A good tabletop ultimately has to be effective in that it works with the menu. If it's a large menu, it's about picking items that work for several different dishes and courses. It would have to be different in the sense that it is not what people would expect — including an element of surprise to enhance a dish, such as using a different material like wood or cast iron, for example.
FE&S: It seems like anything goes on today's tabletops. Where do you look for inspiration?
GB: I look a lot at the retail side of things to see what's trending in the residential world because I feel like that's what end users are connected to on a daily basis.
FE&S: You have a background in training. Today, though, it seems many people want to cut corners when it comes to training. Why do you feel training is important?
GB: It is gigantic because ultimately training gives you the confidence to go into the field and be successful. This translates to having more credibility with customers. There are great takeaways from good training.
FE&S: What has been instrumental to your success as a DSR?
GB: It's really simple — I just do what I say I'm going to do. It's important to follow up, never leave any stone unturned and stick to your word. We need to have a sense of urgency in this business, so if I tell someone I will do something, I do it. That tenet has allowed me to foster many long-term relationships with customers.