Lewis Beville, Amundsen Commercial Kitchens
Amundsen Commercial Kitchens. While the dealer is based in Oklahoma City, Beville works from a satellite office in Longview, Texas, as an estimator/project manager. He mainly focuses his work on school foodservice.Given the way technology shapes even the most basic aspects of our daily lives, it might be difficult to recall a time when answering a want ad in the newspaper was the main way so many people found their next career opportunity. But that’s exactly what Lewis Beville did when he sought to make a career change back in 1998. He answered a want ad posted by a Texas-based foodservice equipment and supplies dealer. He interviewed and was immediately offered the job. Beville remained with that company until late 2018 when he joined the team at
Q: How has school foodservice changed since you first started serving this segment?
A: The automation of the equipment we provide has ramped up as technology has entered all of our lives. Equipment that used to have a solid-state controller now has electronic controls. That gives the user more control and takes a lot of the guesswork out. Once we complete an installation, we are required to provide a demonstration of the equipment. Those demos can be condensed so much that it can overwhelm the senses sometimes. Combi ovens can be a good example of this. You overcome that by coordinating an additional training session with the rep in that area to make sure the way the operator is using the equipment meets the specific needs for the school, including its menu, style of service and so forth.
Q: How has technology impacted the way you work with your project teams?
A: Getting pertinent information happens much more quickly today. And that can help speed along the due diligence of any project.
Q: Working with public money can require a delicate balance of various interests, which you are known for handling well. What’s your secret?
A: I don’t necessarily know if there’s one specific secret. I just approach every project with a win-win scenario in mind. That can be from a cost standpoint or a coordination standpoint. Open communication plays a key role in that. But I always seek a win-win.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
A: Attention to detail is the most important thing you can employ when approaching a project. We live in a fast-paced world where it’s easy to overlook the details. It’s important to identify inconsistencies in plans or specs early in the process. A lot of things we would notice as foodservice people might not be picked up on by the other trades we interact with on a job. And the sooner you can identify them, the better it is for everyone involved because nobody will need to go in and partially undo what they have done. They get to do it right the first time.
Q: What excites you about the future of the foodservice industry?
A: Opportunity always excites me. You have to challenge yourself to keep things interesting and keep yourself motivated. We have been told for years that the school market is going to be built out or saturated. And yet in a market like Texas, I have not really seen that. My business is driven by housing starts. So once you start building in another area, the need for schools arise. I remember what a cafeteria looked like when we went to school. It’s changed so much. It’s so much nicer. More functional. It looks like a university. And the equipment you provide has the capability to do so many different things. And those changes are really exciting.