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DSR of the Month, Aug. 2010: Becki Pretzer, The Wasserstrom Co., Columbus, Ohio

Once she got started in the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, Wasserstrom's Becki Pretzer wasted little time in establishing the foundation of an excellent career.

After spending some time developing the product knowledge that is the cornerstone of her success, Pretzer assembled a client roster that includes independent restaurants, restaurant chains and casinos. And in four short years in the E&S industry, Pretzer has cultivated a reputation for remaining proactive in introducing new products to customers and following through to make sure even the smallest detail is addressed.

DSR of the Month, Aug. 2010: Becky Pretzer
Becki Pretzer, The Wasserstrom Co.,

Pretzer's previous experience includes working in the catering and produce industries.

FE&S: What made you choose your current career?
BP: I've always been fascinated by the restaurant industry but never wanted to cook. This career gives me a way to stay connected with chefs I've met in a whole other aspect of the foodservice industry. I never knew I'd learn so much in such a short amount of time.

FE&S: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting to know the industry?
BP: My biggest challenges were learning about all of the different vendors and discount structures, in addition to familiarizing myself with the many products manufacturers offer and how those products differ from one another. Matching manufacturers' products with customer needs can be difficult.

FE&S: What information do you find most helpful when servicing clients?
BP: When I started with Wasserstrom, I didn't know much about kitchen layouts. Finding information in magazines is very helpful because it allows me to show customers developments within the marketplace. I also ask customers what brands they prefer and why. When I see information on new products, I'm usually the first to inquire about them to see how the product might fit with any of my customers.

FE&S: So many details go into the average job or order. How do you keep them straight?
BP: I always carry a notebook where I write all of the necessary information. I also have a very good memory. If I come across something that strikes me, I keep detailed notes. I have sheets on everything I've ever sold that I can quickly refer back to when needed.

FE&S: What do you like most when it comes to assembling a new tabletop for your customers?
BP: My favorite part of my job is bringing samples to customers so they have all the necessary pieces of the puzzle to make educated decisions. When choosing items, I always keep in mind what chefs prefer. With smallwares, it's important that items both look good and be functional. I've told customers I won't sell them certain lines if I feel they won't work for them or their operation.

FE&S: What inspires you in your designs?
BP: I think about the theme of the operation, the overall look and how everything will come together. When customers visit a restaurant, it's important to have a "wow" factor. My goal is for operators to get many compliments on how their tabletop looks.

FE&S: What tools, resources and materials have helped educate you in your career?
BP: During my four years in the industry, manufacturer reps have been very valuable to my learning curve. Every rep I've worked with has helped educate me. If need be, they accompany me on customer visits. Also, the Internet has been a wonderful tool. If I come across something I'm not familiar with, I will use a search engine to help me get up to speed.

FE&S: Describe your customer service philosophy.
BP: My philosophy is to take care of the customer with the highest level of service. I go out of my way to make sure everyone and everything is taken care of to the best of my ability. Sure, sometimes things fall through the cracks. It's the nature of the business. But when problems arise, I try to address them quickly. It's important to keep customers in the loop and provide as rapid a response as possible. Communication is huge.

FE&S: What are your short- and long-term goals?
BP: In the short term, I love where I'm at now. I enjoy going to new restaurants and working with owners and chefs to find solutions. In the long term, I see myself as more of an educator and go-to person, because I try to stay innovative and on top of things. I don't mind going the extra mile, even if it's like finding a needle in a haystack. I want to be the one people go to for answers and ideas. I am becoming this person for many customers. Everyone wants to set their operation apart, and I love helping customers find their unique niche.