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Future Foodservice Leaders: Mark Rossi

Future Foodservice Leader: Mark Rossi, Avanti Restaurant Solutions Inc.

Mark-RossiName: Mark Rossi

Company Name: Avanti Restaurant Solutions Inc.

Title: President

Age: 38

Industry Involvement: CFSP, California Restaurant Association, FEDA member, SEFA

Years in Foodservice: 17 years in the industry, started company in October 2003

Educational Background: BA in Public Relations and Media with a minor in Business from University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

What's the best career advice you have been given? Don't go into this business. But the best advice I ever followed is you have to make problems disappear for your clients.

Describe the biggest challenge you have overcome. When we first started the business I thought it was important to have a lot of people with industry experience on the team. After a couple of unfortunate instances, we basically turned over the entire staff, hiring almost exclusively people with no industry experience and that has allowed Avanti to flourish in recent years.

What's the most important lesson you have learned? From a customer perspective, it is not about who is right or wrong. The issue is about how you solve their problems because even if you are right and they don't see it that way, the customer won't feel their problem is solved.

If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be? We need to improve our margins. Our customers often have double to triple the margin of the typical dealer. We have to stop undercutting one another in our pursuit of sales in order to maintain sustainable businesses. Customers and suppliers need to think about what's a reasonable margin in their business and try to be fair when dealing with their partners.

What has been your proudest business accomplishment? Unquestionably it is Avanti. Being around for eight years and getting to the level where we are at with our people and customers. It's a real accomplishment to have built the business from the scratch.

What attracted you to the industry? I love food and wine and eating in restaurants. I knew that I did not want to own a restaurant but knew I wanted to be connected to the industry. I am sort of a systems person and like setting something up so it can be done over and over again to help our customers' businesses run smoother and creating a legacy system that allows for this. So it is really a culmination of those factors.

What makes you want to stay in the industry? If you show up, work hard every day and stay true to your company's values you can be successful in this industry. Showing your customers that you care and really applying yourself will allow a company like ours to make a mark in this industry.