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.


This DSR Shares What's Ahead for 2023

Kristi Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh Restaurant Supply Inc.

fes2212 DSR Kristi KavanaughWhen it comes to small businesses, it’s not uncommon for everyone in the company to wear multiple hats. Such is the case with Kristi Kavanaugh of Kavanaugh Restaurant Supply, a dealer based in Madison, Wis., with 20 employees. Kavanaugh has been with KRS for five years. Her client base includes colleges and universities, independent restaurants, schools and healthcare. In addition to growing and maintaining her own book of business, she takes great pride in being the one to open the dealer’s doors in the morning, collaborating with other team members when questions arise from the showroom floor and even helping out with purchasing.

Q: What is your secret to keeping your projects on task while still being a resource for others?

A: It really boils down to two things: organization and teamwork. Growing up, I loved my assignment notebook, and I like to make a lot of lists. I learned early on how to differentiate between noise and action. You cannot become a victim to your inbox. You have to learn how to prioritize. Someone is not going to wait for me to provide an answer if they can find it on their own. So, I try to respond to emails within 24 hours. Also, know your strengths and weaknesses. I am not a hood expert. If someone comes in and asks about a hood, I will lean on someone from our team that really knows that product. And vice versa. If a teammate gets a question about furniture or tabletop, my two areas of expertise, then I will try to help them. We have a great team that is constantly bouncing ideas off each other and sharing experiences.

Q: Furnishings and tabletop are two areas of expertise for you. With so many options, how do you find the right solutions?

A: Listening to the customer and really understanding their goals is important. One of the things I love is mixing and matching and finding items that complement each other. I love to see people’s creativity and restaurants that match their visions. Mixing high- and low-priced items together can really lead to interesting tabletops. Purchasing something that is inexpensive does not mean you have to sacrifice design or quality. 

Q: Projects oftentimes will not have enough time or money or even both, and today, most projects face historically long lead times on items. How do you balance all of this?

A: Take time to ask questions. What is the timeline? What is the budget? What do they truly need? The more information you can gather up front, the better you can start to align everyone’s expectations. Honesty is important here, too. Really talk through what you can and cannot do. It is not a win for anyone if you over-promise. And, yes, occasionally you have to deliver a message you do not want. But it is a matter of biting the bullet and doing it so you can move forward.

Q: What is one thing that excites you about the industry or your business in 2023?

A: Relationships. You never know who is going to walk through your door. In our industry, we get to work with so many different people, and it is important to get to know them. The more you get to know someone on a personal level, the better those relationships will be. 

DSR 3-2-1

Kristi Kavanaugh of Kavanaugh Restaurant Supply, 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.