Six Questions For...Rob August
Which challenges are primarily affecting your operator-customers and what is your company doing to assist them?
“We do a lot of business with multi-unit operators who are now concentrating on improving same-store sales and adding new menu items. In response, Beverage Air is developing several new products to help customers use refrigerated space more effectively, to accommodate ingredients for these new meal choices. We’re also looking at ways to incorporate new refrigerants that are more environmentally friendly then conventional refrigerants, which is what operators want, as well as more ENERGY STAR® certified products.”
What are your expectations for U.S. equipment sales through Q1 of 2012?
“I believe Beverage Air will record strong growth in the first quarter of 2012, due to our strategy of working with operator-customers who respect the quality built into our products. As a category, I expect refrigeration equipment will achieve modest growth during this time period, despite the proliferation of cheaper products being imported from Asia and the growing practice among dealers of sourcing on their own. Overall, equipment makers will likely to be to achieve some sales growth early next year despite some formidable obstacles, such as rising food and healthcare costs, political uncertainty and unpredictable raw material and gas prices.”
Which world issues keep you up at night?
“The most important issues for me are finding a long-term solution to healthcare costs for employers and employees. At the same time, we have to take care of our senior citizens. The world’s economy certainly also has me concerned.
What was the best meal you enjoyed so far this year, and where and with whom did you eat it?
“I have a neighbor who owns an independent restaurant in Charlotte, NC, the Villa Francesca. I recently ate there with my family and we had some of the best stuffed artichokes, meatballs and eggplant dishes I’ve ever tasted.”
What would you most like to change/improve in the relationships between factories and operators?
We would like operators to understand that we’re continuing to absorb material increases and surcharges from all of our metal, compressor and other suppliers. It is very difficult to stay even with material costs, even when we are allowed modest price increases. In addition we provide excellent customer and technical services and there is a value for those services, as well. Our sales management and engineering staff have close relationships with our large multi-unit customers. However some operators are more open about their plans and expectations then others.
Which parts of the world do you still want to visit and what do you want to do there?
“That’s a toss-up for me, as I’d really like to go with my family to both the Fiji Islands and Australia. Right now, I’m leaning a little more towards Australia, because I really want to experience the inland topography, the outback and mountains, as well as the cities, beaches and Great Barrier reef.”