Tess Denton Rex, Singer Equipment Co.
Tess Denton Rex got her first taste of the restaurant business by working with a technology company that aggregated point-of-sale data to help operators better run their businesses. While she realized she did not want to pursue a career in the technology field, she also knew she really loved the restaurant industry.
A family member who also works in the restaurant industry introduced Denton Rex to Morgan Tucker of Singer Equipment Co. Both Denton Rex and Tucker are graduates of the Cornell School of Hospitality and immediately hit it off. Denton Rex joined Singer Equipment Co. as an account executive and never looked back. She now serves as senior account executive for strategic accounts.
Denton Rex’s customer base includes a mobile restaurant company, chef-driven concepts and restaurants in boutique hotels. Her expertise is in tabletop but as her customer base has evolved, so too has her knowledge base, which has expanded into smallwares and equipment, among other areas.
Q: What’s the secret to finding the right solutions to best meet the needs of each unique customer and project?
A: It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I try to listen more than I speak. I ask a ton of open-ended questions and that usually leads to the heart of what my customers are trying to achieve in any given project. People view projects through completely different lenses. Some know exactly what they want their tablescapes to be while others want me to take the creative lead.
Q: What’s one way the industry has changed for the better since you first started?
A: There is a little more diversity in the industry in all roles, although we still have great strides to make there. Restaurant workers are better taken care of than before, but there are more strides to make there, too. We are thinking about and taking better care of people, which is important because we are in the business of hospitality and before you can take care of others you have to take care of yourself.
Q: What’s one foodservice (or foodservice design) trend that really excites you?
A: Color and customization. Every single restaurant and hotel opening I worked on in 2022 included something custom, whether it was plates or glassware or flatware. I love that because I am a maximalist when it comes to design. Prior to that people were going with more matte finishes and neutral tones. It was more minimalist and Scandinavian design. I am seeing people adding more color and mixing finishes, which is more fun. And if you are opening a restaurant, it should be fun. Color is back and I love it.
Q: When something goes awry with a project, maybe an item will be late or perhaps something shows up cracked, what’s the best approach to going about resolving the situation?
A: Total honesty. I always call my customers and lay out the entire issue. Before I make that call, though, I make sure I have all the facts and two or three ways to resolve the situation. I would never call my customers with a Plan B or Plan C. My customers appreciate that because it makes them feel as if they have a partner and they will be able to get that project open on time.
Tess Denton Rex, Singer Equipment Co., sits down with Jason Wange, Foodservice Powerplant Network, to talk about being named an FE&S DSR of the Month.
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Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Presents DSR 3-2-1 is sponsored by Salvajor.