Six Questions For...Dean Landeche
Senior VP, Marketing
Which challenges are primarily affecting your operator-customers and what are your companies doing to assist them?
“The number one challenge facing the operators we do business with is maintaining growth and improving customer counts while managing costs such as labor, infrastructure, food and energy to ensure profitability. Manitowoc’s job is to offer equipment solutions that help operators prepare and present new products, like toasted sandwiches or smoothies, and that provide greater speed of service. For some sandwich and burger chains, a six-second improvement in drive-through time for each customer generally results in a 1% increase in revenue at the operator level, so we provide rapid cook ovens and cabinets that hold products longer without degrading quality. We also work directly with operators to help design the most efficient layouts of our equipment in their kitchens. Our goal is to create optimum assembly speed and food safety in existing spaces.”
What are your expectations for U.S. equipment sales during the first half of this year?
“We will most likely see a slow and unsteady sales increase in the coming months, driven by new roll-outs, renovations and repairs. Depending what happens in Washington and how that affects unemployment, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some sales dips this year, but I think the overall sales trend will be positive. Best selling products are likely to include equipment that helps operators create new revenue and menu items, and products that facilitate speedier service. Items like refrigerated storage units and furnishings will probably lag on the sales curve.”
Which world issues keep you up at night?
“There are three inter-related issues that concern me most: raw materials, energy costs and stability in the volatile regions of the world. We operate as a global company, but the sustainability of our business model depends on the quality of innovation and service we provide in many different local markets. We can’t sell the same lines or even types of equipment in Asia, for instance, as we do in the States, we have to adapt to local preparation methods, food preferences and social customs. Taco Bell’s biggest sellers in India, for example are chicken and vegetarian wraps; KFC does best without bone-in chicken, but has added shrimp dishes and wraps. We’re going to have to be able to manufacture locally the equipment needed to support operators’ menus and match that with regional business and service support. “
What was the best meal you enjoyed during the past few months, and where and with whom did you eat it?
“During the holidays, I joined some colleagues at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City here in Tampa. Columbia is a 105-year-old Spanish restaurant that’s been managed by five generations of the same family. The menu items are largely made from family recipes, the service is always excellent and the flamenco dancing is fantastic.”
What would you most like to change/improve in the relationships between equipment makers and operators?
“I’d like to see us all try to achieve a better understanding of what it means to be true partners. One way manufacturers could do that is by developing open innovation models and strategic alliances to work on operators’ common equipment problems. We could co-produce specifications and even form R&D and manufacturing partnerships. This is not a new strategy; car makers around the world collaborate on engines and suspension platforms and are still able to differentiate their products and compete.”
Which parts of the world do you still want to visit and what do you want to do there?
“I already travel a great deal on business, but I still want to go everywhere and do everything. As a private individual, I’d like to visit Russia, the Nile valley in Egypt, Greece and spend more time in China.”