Issue Winter 14
The most important recipe for foodservice companies or restaurants might not even involve anything edible – it could be the combination and arrangement of all the vital equipment that makes up the kitchen. Without the right equipment in the right configuration, restaurants and foodservice companies can’t deliver the dishes their customers visit them for, and that’s why having a trusted supplier of customized kitchen equipment is just as important as having the right source for ingredients.
For many years, major foodservice chains such as Chipotle, Red Robin and Papa John’s have relied on QualServ Corp. to provide them with the recipe for an efficient and highly effective kitchen. President and CEO E.J. Morrow says QualServ has built a solid reputation as a supplier that understands the foodservice industry and provides a complete, integrated solution to clients’ kitchen needs.
Based in Fort Smith, Ark., QualServ got its start in the ventilation business, providing air systems for restaurant customers. Over time, Morrow says, the company expanded its customer base and along with it the types of equipment it was able to fabricate. Today, QualServ is one of the nation’s leading turnkey providers of kitchen equipment and retail fixtures. The company’s products include refrigerators, stoves, fryers, dishwashers, blenders and grills, and the company also has the capability to custom-fabricate wood and stainless steel fixtures.
“Our customer base is generally large networks and chains in the retail and foodservice industries and other OEM-type customers,” Morrow says. “In all the industries that we work in, supply exceeds demand.”
All of the company’s capabilities mean QualServ has the ability to provide its customers with complete kitchen solutions, Morrow says. This has become especially important as restaurant chains and other foodservice customers look to streamline their supply chains and source more equipment from fewer suppliers. Morrow says QualServ’s ability to provide everything its customers need from A to Z means the company can continue to expect growth and success well into the future.
All In One
Morrow says that despite the depth and range of the equipment QualServ can install in its customers’ kitchens, the most important thing the company offers is its ability to combine them all into one solution. “We’re an integrator, and we’re able to integrate custom-fabricated products and custom millwork products, and align that with equipment and installation and field services,” he says. “And it’s all under one roof, one phone call.
“What’s happening is that the end-user wants simplification and accountability from their suppliers,” Morrow continues. “In the past, they’ve had a multitude of suppliers. Today, they want to coordinate it so there’s one phone call.”
QualServ’s capacity to provide customers with a complete solution for all of their kitchen equipment and fixture needs has made the company a go-to source for numerous multi-store rollouts and remodeling projects. Morrow says the company’s project management capabilities are among the strongest in the industry, and as such customers know that they can trust QualServ to get the job done right. The company touts its nationwide network of expert installers as one of the primary reasons its services are so successful, and it says its 440,000-square-foot facility is close to major transportation routes to reduce shipping costs to the customer.
Morrow explains that the company’s large facility also allows it to offer customers with supply chain management services and help them optimize logistics. “It’s all about efficiency and cutting costs and driving the value chain to optimization,” he says.
Beyond the company’s ability to provide customers with integrated kitchen solutions is QualServ’s ability to develop new and unique products aimed at solving specific problems. For example, the company recently introduced a mobile hand-wash station for applications in the hospitality industry where permanent plumbing fixtures are not possible or practical. The stainless-steel cabinet plugs into a standard outlet and provides a full-sized sink for easy and convenient hand washing.
QualServ also recently developed a new sandwich warming station specifically for Burger King restaurants that keeps food warm between the time it is prepared and when it is served to customers. The company’s innovative thinking also resulted in the development of a new stem cutter system for use in flower shops. According to the company, the new system was developed in conjunction with partner FlowerTech and uses a pneumatic system to cut flower stems, which reduces repetitive stress injuries for employees and makes cleaner cuts that help prolong flower life.
With all of the success QualServ has seen over the years and the non-stop nature of the foodservice industry, Morrow says the company’s biggest concern is simply staying on top of things. “Our greatest challenge is keeping up with our growth opportunities,” he says.
To make sure QualServ never loses a step when it comes to meeting its customers’ needs, Morrow says, the company continues to invest significant resources into its people, processes and capital. Morrow says one of the primary motivators of those efforts has been the company’s opportunities management process, which aligns key cross-functional areas and focuses attention on specific products or services to analyze them from beginning to end for customers. That way, the company has a complete picture of each process from start to finish and can identify any areas that can be improved.
Looking forward, Morrow says QualServ will continue to focus on doing what it does best for its customers, with additional attention paid to what the company can do for customers after the sale and installation of its equipment. “I see us expanding more into our field services solutions capabilities and bringing more to the table, taking more stress off the end-user,” Morrow says.
As long as QualServ continues to provide customers in the foodservice industry with kitchen equipment solutions that cover all of their needs, Morrow says, the company expects to remain on top. “We’re a value-added integrator that brings self-manufacturing capabilities and combines them with products to bring solutions to end-users,” he says.