DSR of the Month

Profiling the industry’s most accomplished foodservice equipment and supplies dealer sales reps. Only one will go on to be named DSR of the Year.


DSR Discusses how Operations Experience Helps Shape her Current Role

Theresa Peterson, National Accounts Program Manager,  Rapids Foodservice Contract and Design

fes2210 Theresa PetersonFor many in the foodservice industry, their roots in this business tend to run deep. Take, for example, Theresa Peterson, national accounts program manager for Rapids Foodservice Contract and Design. The industry is in her blood, as Peterson’s parents still own and operate a bar near Minneapolis. “My mom still opens the bar every day and my dad still closes it. And I still tend bar there every so often,” Peterson says.

Starting while in college and ultimately spanning close to 10 years, Peterson worked with a national dining chain with restaurants in the Midwest. Then, like so many on the operator side of the restaurant industry, she decided she wanted a fresh approach to work-life balance. A friend who is an independent manufacturers’ rep connected Peterson with Rapids and she joined the dealer in December of 2018. Peterson started out as a project coordinator, then served as a dealer sales rep working on bid projects before assuming her current role as national accounts program manager working with senior living operators with locations in various states.

Here Peterson discusses how her operations experience helps shape her current role.

Q: How do your former experiences in casual dining help you better serve your clients today?

A: Understanding the guest experience and being able to relate to the customer is really helpful. I have bar experience, catering experience, working the line experience and more. As a result, I know what works from a labor perspective and what does not. National chains work with a lot of different people to push the development of their layouts and that gives me a sense of what works and what does not. Plus, I got to work in a variety of different stores and work with a variety of demographics. So, when I say I get it they understand. And when they say they want a flattop with a cooler on the opposite side of the room, my experience gives me the credibility to counsel them on that. I can really help them get the biggest bang for their buck.

Q: How do you bridge the distance gap with a client base that includes high-end senior living operators with locations all over the country?

A: Communication is the big word that comes to mind. The other big one is consistent follow-up. If it’s not documented in an email, it may never happen and that applies even more so when working on projects across the country.

Q: How have you worked with your clients to deal with supply chain challenges?

A: Transparency and honesty are important. They are hard conversations to have because nobody knows when or how some of these issues will be resolved. You have to be honest and up front with them and that’s how you get their trust. They usually understand and will be more flexible and fluid as the project progresses.

Q: Describe one way you have seen cooking equipment evolve for the better in recent years?

A: Equipment in general is evolving and improving for efficiency. Can you use less labor to get something done? Can you combine two pieces of equipment to get something done? Can a new item use less gas or electricity? Equipment continues to evolve all the way around and the competing brands continue to hold each other accountable to higher standards.

DSR 3-2-1

Theresa Peterson, Rapids Foodservice Contract and Design, sits down with Jason Wange, Foodservice Powerplant Network, to talk about being named an FE&S DSR of the Month.

Find more episodes of DSR 3-2-1 here.

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Presents DSR 3-2-1 is sponsored by Salvajor.