Perspectives is a short-form Q&A with culinary and hospitality professionals navigating the new landscape. Each week we’ll hear from different members of various communities about their experiences in the COVID era and how they are helping their business, guests and community move forward. If you work in hospitality and would like to be featured in Perspectives, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each week we try to bring you a different “perspective” for how the COVID era is impacting all areas of hospitality. This week we looked beyond the kitchen and were fortunate enough to find a company that actually supplies the kitchen.
NBR Equipment, based in New Jersey, produces restaurant and bar equipment that supports a wide range of hospitality venues across the country.
Restaurants have obviously taken a hit the last few months. But there are many companies behind the scenes that support all forms of culinary and are also feeling the pinch.
Joining us this week from NBR is Ken Kreiss, vice president of sales and marketing.
Chef Works: Give our readers a brief overview of how NBR supports hospitality?
Ken Kreiss: NBR is a relatively young company, created in 2017. The plan was, and still is, to bring all our customers good quality, good service and good pricing. We have a wide range of products required for a commercial kitchen, ready to ship in twenty-four hours or less. We have been closely monitoring our inventory to make sure we have enough stock to supply the demand due to distribution and supply chain delays. The top priority right now for NBR is to make it easier for restaurants, bars, schools, hotels, etc. to operate their businesses.
We know that NBR is offering the best quality item at the fairest cost, but we also know that our customers have numerous vendors to choose from. We don’t try to kid ourselves or our customers. A sink is designed to hold water and not leak. A worktable is just how it is described — a worktable. In most cases, the deciding factor is value and experience, and that is how we support the market.
CW: How have you had to pivot your business in the COVID era?
KK: Being in what was considered the epicenter of the pandemic in March, like everyone else we were in a lockdown and working remotely. However, we prepared ahead of time in February by making sure all our support personnel could work from home and all our services were able to be re-routed to where we could access them off-premises. Our warehouse was fully stocked and we felt comfortable that we could quickly respond to our customers’ needs.
We returned to the office in mid-June after all employees volunteered to be tested before returning. Our office has a sufficient supply of PPE and we follow all the social distancing requirements. Meetings are held in open spaces and are kept to a minimum. It certainly is a new normal to see everyone in their cubicle with a face mask, but everyone’s safety is our priority.
CW: What has industry response been like to those adjustments?
KK: That’s difficult to gauge because the foodservice industry has been the hardest hit. Restaurants and bars, for the most part, remain closed. I think the businesses that adapted to take-out service or outside dining were glad to see we are here to help and have the products they need to get up and running as quickly as possible.
NBR is a profit-driven company, but during these unusual times we are always willing to work with our customers and offer a bit of a better discount whenever we can. I trust the industry responded favorably to that. I have seen some new customers lately and old ones buying more.
CW: What are some of the challenges and wins of the last six months?
KK: Challenges — We were having a great first quarter. Sales were exceeding last year’s, we had plans to open new territories and look for a second warehouse. But that all came to a crashing halt in March. We are persevering and working to get back on track as more foodservice establishments re-open. Local restaurants still have it much worse than others. Our goal is to support them in any way we can as we right our business.
As a company, I’m proud that we did not have to furlough anybody. We kept the company running, took care of our customers and, most of all, everyone stayed healthy.
Want more Perspectives? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured.
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