E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


Family Matters: Johnson-Lancaster and Associates

It's fairly common for people to refer to their co-workers as family. And that often happens with good reason. Start with the simple fact that in a given work week you likely spend as much or more time working with your work family as you do with your actual family.

In many cases, though, that's where the comparisons between work and actual family often end. That's far from the case at Johnson-Lancaster and Associates, FE&S' 2017 Dealer of the Year. Spend any time with the company's associates and you can't help but notice an unmistakable family-like atmosphere. And that's not by accident.

Johnson-Lancaster and Associates' thoughtful and detail oriented approach starts at the top with the Lancasters, which include the husband and wife duo of Jerry and Donna Lancaster, who founded the company in 1979, and their son Brad, who serves as president of the dealership. The trio leads by example with a rock solid work ethic that earns the respect of the company's associates.

As the company's revenues have grown, Johnson-Lancaster and Associates has resisted any temptation to add a layer of middle management. Instead, the leaders of the dealer's various divisions — contract, chain, purchasing, estimating, e-commerce, etc. — all work shoulder to shoulder with their associates in serving customers. This breeds loyalty among the dealer's associates and, more importantly, its customers.

The net result is a uniquely unified corporate culture that has an unmistakable family-like quality. The associates treat Jerry and Donna with the reverence befitting a company patriarch and matriarch and Brad with the respect reserved for a tribal elder. Similarly, the associates treat one another with a refreshing sibling-like level of respect and irreverence. The associates good naturedly rib one another often, but everyone understands the value their colleagues bring to the table.

That points toward another element of Johnson-Lancaster and Associates' success: an unwavering customer focus. The company knows it can't lose by putting its customers first. Johnson-Lancaster and Associates also places an emphasis on developing meaningful relationships with members of the factory community. This trait is not lost on its customers and business partners, who openly recognize the company's heart remains in the right place, empowering associates to rectify any challenges and collectively learn from their mistakes. All of Johnson-Lancaster and Associates' constituent groups — customers, vendors and associates — feel that help is always one phone call away and have an appreciation for the company's transparent approach to handling its business.

Johnson-Lancaster and Associates has a vision for the future that will include continuing to invest in the right people to help grow not only market share but also its footprint. No doubt Johnson-Lancaster will remain fair and straightforward in its approach because that's what matters to this family.