Marcus Calverley, Kessenich’s Foodservice, Design Equipment and Supplies
Sometimes it’s the casual conversations that happen by chance that help shape someone’s career trajectory. Such is the case for Marcus Calverley, senior design and account executive for Kessenich’s Foodservice, Design Equipment and Supplies, based in Madison, Wis.
Calverley began working in the restaurant industry right out of college, working for 12 years as a general manager and owner of bars and restaurants throughout the Midwest. After a five-year battle with cancer, though, Calverley felt it was time for a change. While attending a holiday party with a friend, he had a conversation with Marc Israel, president of Great Lakes Hotel Supply Co., which also owns Kessenich’s. Little did Calverley know that conversation was sort of an interview for a potential job. “He asked me if I could come back in a few days to talk more. And before I knew it, I walked out of that last conversation with a job,” Calverley recalls. “The way the whole thing worked out is amazing and I still pinch myself.”
After six years on the Great Lakes side of the company, Calverley joined Kessenich’s this year. He works with various types of operators, but his client base tends to include more chefs and restaurants.
Q: How does your past experience as a general manager and owner of restaurants help you better serve your customers today?
A: I do understand the headaches poor design can create because I lived it. An extra four steps from station to station is something that lives with your business every day. When I think back to some of the places I used to work, I can see the extra work that poor design would create for me and my crew. And operators and owners are often in a position to be oversold because their focus is on today — getting the doors open, serving customers and generating money. I know for a fact that’s happened to me, so I set out to build trust with customers from the beginning.
Q: You are known for making sure every client gets the utmost attention while also juggling multiple projects. What’s your secret to making sure everything goes so smoothly?
A: I am extremely focused on organization. While it takes time out of my day to make sure that all of my ducks are in a row, I know even the smallest detail missed on a design or piece of equipment leads to real world headaches for the client and the dealer. There are no small details in our world. While we do work with various clients, each one is unique. With many customers, they are pursuing a lifelong dream and I need to pursue it with the same level of seriousness as they do.
Q: With so many equipment options out there, how do you know when you have the right product for a given design?
A: There are a number of factors, but it’s mostly knowing it fits the operation, the budget and the equipment is no more than they need. At Great Lakes and Kessenich’s, the company has made it clear that our job is
to achieve the vision of our clients and not necessarily the vision we have. So, my job is to listen, first and foremost, work with the factories and the reps, make sure I am up to date on the latest equipment and technology and then apply that in an ethical way to meet the clients’ needs.
Q: Supply chain issues continue to dominate the industry conversation. Have any of your projects been affected by supply chain issues?
A: Every single one of my projects is affected in some way by the current supply chain situation. I tackle the issue with extreme transparency. I am open and honest with the client about the challenges we face. I don’t oversell the issue. My job is to get them the equipment as fast as we can, but I won’t share with them unrealistic timelines.