Greg Blasgen, Edward Don & Company
When Greg Blasgen was about to graduate Illinois State University, he thought he was going to go into pharmaceutical sales, but his brother mentioned to him that Edward Don & Company was about to start a training program. That was almost 20 years ago and Greg has been with the Woodridge, Ill.-based foodservice equipment and supplies dealer since, now serving as a business development specialist. His brother, John Blasgen, is now managing director of finance there.
Greg Blasgen’s book of business includes some national accounts, multiunit and multiconcept operators, theme parks, hotels and more. He handles opening packages and smallwares packages for these clients. Here he discusses the role of technology in working with customers and more.
Q: How have challenges of the past few years affected the way you and your customers work together?
A: It’s more of an emotional answer. When the lockdowns first started happening, it was a trying time and our sales started to drop. A lot of dealers tried to reconcept themselves by selling masks, sanitizer and other forms of PPE. I tried but realized that was not who I am. So, I started to focus on what I could control and what I could do for my customers. I took the long-term approach with my customers by focusing on carryout and packaging alternatives because we saw that there were supply chain challenges on the horizon. We got the operators to build the right takeout and delivery programs and then build a backup plan.
Q: Speaking of supply chain challenges, how have they affected your business?
A: It’s about being completely transparent and sharing with customers the reality about what’s happening next. We have a perspective that our customers may not have given our position within the industry. There are still some challenges out there today. Bar equipment, for example, is still 25 weeks out. I treat the vendors I work with like they are my customers.
Q: Given there are lots of options out there when it comes to smallwares, what goes into finding the right product?
A: It’s about knowing the customer and knowing the different grades of quality among the various products. But really, it’s about your customer. How they are going to use the item and their volume are two factors that play important roles in determining what provides the best value for what they want to do.
Q: What’s one thing that excites you about the future of the industry?
A: Long-term relationships. About five years ago I partnered with Joe Palumbo, another sales rep in our company. Seeing him in action and the relationships he has is exciting. He has some relationships that span 35 years with these companies. And what that taught me is that if you take care of these relationships with your customers and manufacturers they will continue to flourish. I say customers and manufacturers because they are both important. When you have that connection between customer, distributor and manufacturer you see a strong bond develop; relationships are based on respect and honesty.
In the inaugural episode of FE&S' DSR 3-2-1, Greg Blasgen sits down with Jason Wange of the Foodservice Powerplant Network to talk about being named an FE&S DSR of the Month.
Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Presents DSR 3-2-1 is sponsored by Salvajor.