General Manager Gillian Huggins joined Allied Caterers Ltd. almost four years ago, and was first attracted to the company because of her love for and interest in the food industry. She has a degree in business management, an accounting certification and senior-level experience in corporate finance, marketing and business development. This experience, combined with her love of cooking, deepened her interest in Allied, where she has continued to grow during her tenure. She says, as such, Allied Caterers’ plans going forward involve a continued focus on understanding what brings greater value to each customer and satisfying that need.
Based in Trinidad, Allied Caterers has been in business for more than 35 years. It started as a caterer/flight kitchen to the local airlines, and now it is the sole airline caterer in Trinidad and Tobago. Providing the airlines with food and equipment, its clients include Continental Airlines, Caribbean Airlines and many private corporate jets. From there, the company expanded into corporate catering and event management in Trinidad (GCG Events), as well as catering and facilities management for international offshore energy platforms.
With all of the markets and customers it serves, “customer service is key,” Huggins stresses. “We do a lot of training to ensure consistency in our service. Additionally, we are very high-end in terms of safety. All of our operations focus on quality and safety and maintain international standards in both areas.”
Allied Caterers demonstrates its commitment to customer service by re¬spond¬ing to clients’ individual needs. For its offshore oil production and drilling customers – including BPTT, Respol YPF, BHP Billiton, British Gas Trinidad and National Gas Co. – the company provides a comprehensive service that involves the supply of personnel, groceries and equipment, laundry management and house-keeping services. Be¬cause Allied controls every aspect of its operations, it can meet clients’ special requests, Huggins notes, including the provision of carrying cargo units and sourcing of small equipment.
“We have people who reside on the platforms to ensure a high level of service is maintained,” she says. “Of course, before they even go out there, our employees are tested on quality with our processes, food preparation and operation of the special equipment we have to use on a platform. Our goal is to provide our customers with a full solution.”
For corporate clients, Allied offers catering services to offices, factories, banks and educational institutions, with clients such as Nestle Trinidad, the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business and Unilever Trinidad. In addition to organizing and serving everything needed for breakfast seminars, boxed lunches, snacks, brand launches and business meetings, this division also staffs and manages large corporate events, weddings, fine dining occasions and in-home events.
Allied tailors its event menus to the clients’ requirements, and it can accommodates an entire cycle of menus lasting from one to six weeks. Its executive chef also works closely with corporate clients to regularly compile and review menu options to provide variety.
Allied Caterers monitors quality by de¬termining key performance indicators for every aspect of its contracts, and then setting standards based on the level of service that is expected. Additionally, the company operates from a modern, HACCP-compliant plant that meets or exceeds all international standards.
“We audit our own facilities – our plant, offshore platform operations and in-flight kitchens – and we adhere to strict standards,” Huggins says. “We also apply lean manufacturing principles to our operation. We adhere to our key performance indicators, but we also look at our processes to see where we can be more efficient.”
The company’s dedication to quality, she believes, is what will enable its ongoing growth. With its success in Trinidad and Tobago, Allied Caterers is looking to expand elsewhere.
“Our operations are guided by the dictates of our annual strategic plan, and we constantly focus on addressing our customers’ needs,” Huggins says. “We do that by working closely with customers to understand their changing needs and values. We plan to expand our events management business and go to other Caribbean islands, and we want to be No. 1 in everything we do. The only way to do that is by maintaining a reputation of providing and fully embracing a high-end quality service.”