Gordon Marsh, Edward Don & Company
Working in the construction industry in Chicago, the winters can get pretty slow. Such was the case for Gordon Marsh, who had embarked on a career as a carpenter, where he often worked on front-of-the-house restaurant and hotel projects. Trying to offset some of those slower winter months, Marsh went to school to learn drafting and design before eventually taking a job as a CAD operator for a millwork company. When the millwork business experienced a slowdown due to a struggling economy, Marsh began looking for other opportunities.
This led Marsh to Edward Don & Company, where his background in construction and project management continues to serve him well on the contract side of the business. As project manager, his clients span everything from hotels to fine dining, among many others. Here, he shares what he’s learned over the previous eight years working for the Woodridge, Ill.-based foodservice equipment and supplies dealer.
Q: How does your background in carpentry and construction work to your advantage in your current role?
A: Sometimes I work as an owner’s rep. I will see things that should be happening in a different way. And in looking out for my customer’s best interest, I will bring it to their attention at a time when it’s easier to fix and will cost them less money. My background also gives me an understanding as to how and why things might change once the project is out in the field. That experience gives me an edge in serving my clients and hitting deadlines.
Q: Compressed timelines and budgets remain a reality for most foodservice projects. How do you make sure a project addresses those two factors without compromising quality?
A: You have to look at it outside the box to find a fresh angle to accomplish what needs to be done. My construction experience has taught me how to break down bigger tasks into smaller, more bite-sized pieces. Plus, you can’t do it without the support of a good team; that includes the subcontractors, reps, factories and my team at Edward Don.
Q: How have you had to adapt your approach to working with customers during the pandemic?
A: Typically, I would be on the road every two weeks or so, but I am doing a lot more remotely. That means a lot more video calls, conference calls and follow-up to let your clients and your partners know you are there and ready to help. You have to work a little harder up front to help the construction side of a project do what they need to do. Most of my customers and the general contractors I work with are repeat business partners, so we know how each other likes to do things, and that makes it easier to share information or get other details. We don’t play the “change order” game. If we make mistakes, we fix them. And if they notice something’s off base on their end, I will do my best to work with them. As a whole, all we want to do is give the customer the best product we can.
Q: You’ve been known to say “Your information is your power.” What does that mean?
A: Let’s say a customer wants to start cooking food at their bar but can’t add a hood. You have to know what products would work for their application. The more training and experience that you have helps. The more you know and the more you know how to do things yourself, the easier it is to specify the right equipment for the application.