Featured SEFAPros Archive – 2016

Kevin Corral – ADE, 
Addison, IL

Kevin found his passion for the foodservice industry when he joined ADE seven years ago. He told us that he couldn’t be happier working with the phenomenal team at ADE in this great industry.

Kevin’s strong commitment and hard work in the SEFAPro program afforded him Level 7 SEFAPro status. Kevin is dedicated to training and building relationships with SEFA partners. He has participated in every National Sales Conference and SEFA Academy in the last seven years, with the exception of two. He is grateful for the SEFA suppliers that give up so much of their valuable time to help educate SEFAPros and members of the group.

“I don’t know if there is enough time to properly give thanks and recognize every individual who has helped me grow personally and professionally in this industry. But I know one thing for certain, I definitely want to take this opportunity to thank Steve Schoop for bringing me on and mentoring me,” said Corral.

Kevin lives in Lombard, Illinois with his beautiful wife Tara. They have two lovely daughters, Avery – 8 and Carsyn – 5. Kevin loves spending time with his family. He says he spends a lot of time driving to dance classes, gymnastics, piano, and the activity of the month. He also says he loves every minute of it.

SEFA is very proud to recognize Kevin Corral as Featured SEFAPro for the second time. He is dedicated, focused, friendly, and professional. Kevin is an all-around good guy to everyone he meets.

Check out Kevin’s video interview where he talks about things he has learned and gained along the way. Find out which SEFA trainer he mentions by name for saving the day at ADE.

Mike Hammond – Jetro/Restaurant Depot
, East Coast

Mike has been in the foodservice industry for almost 30 years. He started as a bus boy/prep cook at the Windsor House in Windsor, CT when he was 16 years old. He worked for Applebee’s on and off for 17 years, carrying the roles of server, bartender, cook, kitchen manager, and bar manager. He also held a food and beverage manager position at the Ramada for a few years. In addition to his foodservice operator and management roles, he was a police officer in the Air Force from 1989 to 1993.

Mike has found his place at Restaurant Depot as the East Coast Regional E&S Training and Development Manager. In his position, he wears many hats. He is the training coordinator for regional sessions and the liaison for training between SEFA and Restaurant Depot managers. His responsibilities also include individual training, merchandising in the individual stores, and assisting with the closing of large quotes. Mike says he loves his job and especially enjoys witnessing someone new in the industry reaping the benefits of structured training.

The passion you have for what you do is your ticket for success.

Mike loves helping restaurant owners, operators, and chefs. He enjoys providing solutions to challenges a foodservice 
professional may be experiencing. He strives to win over his customers with an overwhelming response, and as a result, becomes a trusted partner to them in their business. “One of the things I love about the foodservice industry is that it is consistently changing, bringing new innovations and trends every year. Whether you’re a manufacturer, a rep, a dealer, or a restaurant owner, it’s the passion that you have that makes you successful. It sets you apart and brings about an immense amount of joy,” says Hammond.

Mike leads by example. He is a SEFAPro and is very successful in the training program striving to reach new levels. “SEFA is so special to me. I cannot express enough, the impact that Tedde, Jim, Tom, and the rest of the team has made on me. I know it sounds cliché, but SEFA is family. I have met so many great people through SEFA that are now friends for life. What SEFA does for dealers and manufacturers is a game-changer in the industry. The training and networking comes second to none and the dealer support is priceless. Personally, SEFA has shown me a standard of integrity that I have incorporated into my own life,” says Hammond.

Networking is not just business, it can be very personal.

Mike told us about two key industry people who have really inspired him and helped him to get to where he is today. “Larry Rosenthal of Restaurant Depot saw something in me and has always been supportive in my development. As an industry leader, I consider Larry a mentor and a friend.” He adds, “One person I met through a SEFA training event is Tom Rochon of Perkins. His love for the Lord, family, and the industry has been so inspiring. We have become fast friends and brothers in the Lord. His passion in these areas of life are infectious,” says Hammond.

SEFA is very proud to recognize Mike Hammond as Featured SEFAPro. He is passionate, hard working, and professional. Mike is truly a good person, who is always sharing positive feedback and inspiring others. He is passionate about his faith, his family, his friends, and his work. He has a sincere respect for Restaurant Depot, his colleagues, and his customers. In closing, Mike shares with us words he lives by: “You don’t want to sell to a client once, you want to sell to a client for life. Always own up to your mistakes. Some of your best bonds with your clients are a result of how you handle the hurdles. Rather than being a salesman, be a problem solver.”

Huff Harper, Oswalt Restaurant Supply, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Huff started in the industry at a young age. “Growing up in our family’s equipment repair business presented opportunities at an early age to see the inner workings of many types of foodservice facilities. Learning how equipment functioned, as well as how to make repairs, was a great step into the industry.” says Harper.

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that ends up paving your path, revealing your talents, and igniting your passion.

In 1993, Huff was presented with the phenomenal opportunity to join the Oswalt Restaurant Supply team. He will tell you that this is the year he really started learning the depth of the industry, as well as learning great business practices. Huff worked in all aspects of the company including service, warehousing, accounting, purchasing, sales, and project management. He has been with Oswalt Restaurant Supply for 23 years and loves it.

“Being a part of a great team is awesome, there are certain responsibilities that have to be done every day and that’s why we call it work, but most of my time is spent interacting with clients or members of our team, and it’s always pretty fun,” says Harper.

Kitchen design/layout is where he spends a lot of his time but he says helping a customer gain knowledge about SEFA manufacturers and the products they offer is very gratifying. Huff gets great enjoyment out of sharing his knowledge with customers and providing solutions and new opportunities for their operations.

He enjoys the fact that the industry has so many segments and concepts and that there’s always something new and challenging happening. “Fortunately, we are a close group so everyone gets involved in what’s happening throughout the organization. Some days when you have grudge work to do, it’s great to be able to walk down the hall and visit with a team member that has something new and interesting going on. It makes the whole day better!” says Harper.

Increasing your expertise through certifications and training is so beneficial to you, your customers, and your colleagues.

Harper holds his Master Mechanical License in multiple states. He is a Certified Foodservice Professional and a Certified HACCP Manager. He is certified in ServSafe Food Safety, in AutoCAD, and is successfully pursuing new levels in the SEFAPro Training Program. “The relationships, networking, and training we get from SEFA training is the best in the industry. SEFA demands a very high level of participation from all those involved in training, creating an environment that develops champions.” says Harper.

Huff is inspired by a very important person in his life. “My wife Kim inspires me every day, she is the glue that holds our family together and challenges us all to be the best we can. She has dedicated her life to teaching children and the world we live in today brings her many different types of challenges that she faces head on in a positive manner. When I’m down, she lifts me up, has always provided support, and I’m very thankful to have her in my life.” says Harper.

“We live in Yukon, Oklahoma – a suburb of Oklahoma City and the home of Garth Brooks! Our three kids have grown up and moved out, but they all live close and we love spending time with Courtney, Whitney, and Kale. We love to go camping and fishing when we can, love to travel, and spend time with friends and family. I’ve played guitar many years and enjoy learning new styles and playing with friends and family.” says Harper.

SEFA is proud to recognize Huff as Featured SEFAPro. The respect and passion he has for the industry, his work, and his family is a testament to his character. Even with the knowledge and experience he has, he is always looking to further his training and bring value to the company he loves and the customers he respects.

Rick Stark, Acme, Savage, MD

SEFA is proud to recognize Rick Stark from Acme Paper for a second time as Featured SEFAPro. Rick made a commitment from the very beginning to reach Level 7 and that’s exactly what he did. One of his goals is to continue to be the eyes and ears for his customers, keeping them on top of new products and industry trends.

Hunter Thibeaux, Lafayette Restaurant Supply, Inc.
Lafayette, Louisiana

Hunter has been with his family business, Lafayette Restaurant Supply, since 1995. Their company happened to be looking for help at the same time Hunter was returning from Texas to finish college at the University of Southwestern Louisiana.  An installer had just left the company to join the fire department and Hunter jumped in to help out while finishing school.  His responsibilities included deliveries, warehouse work, and equipment installations.

Today, Hunter’s roles and responsibilities are endless and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He enjoys being his own boss and pushing himself and his coworkers to be successful.

Lafayette Resaurant Supply covers a variety of different markets in this industry and that is one aspect of the work that Hunter enjoys. He also values the relationships he has built and takes great joy in seeing a project progress from pouring the slab to the successful end result.

Hunter is a strong believer in the SEFA training program.  In fact, he is currently a Level 4 SEFAPro.  “The SEFAPro training program has helped me tremendously. The product knowledge and the learning and conveying of ideas with other sales professionals and project managers is priceless,” says Thibeaux.

The best leaders inspire success and lead by example

Hunter and his brother Poonie, have a great relationship. They have built and run a successful business. They always keep their eye on the goal.  And there is no fear of hard work in this family. “I went from sweeping the floors and cleaning the toilet, to sales, to project management, and then to owning and running the company with my brother.  What pushes me is the desire to be successful, providing a good life for me and my family, and being able to reward co-workers for their work and accomplishments,” says Thibeaux.

If you know Hunter, you know it is very rare to see him without a smile on his face.  He lives very happily in Lafayette, LA, where he was born.  “I have an awesome wife and three great kids.  I like to hunt, fish, relax and BBQ at home, and attend Ragin Cajuns and Saints games.”

SEFA values the partnership with Lafayette Restaurant Supply and is proud to recognize Hunter as Featured SEFAPro for the month of May. He is hard working and professional, but also knows how to relax and enjoy life. He loves his family and loves his work.  He is an asset to the foodservice industry and a friend to most people he meets. Congratulations, Hunter!

Hunter wanted to give a special thanks to Tedde for taking a chance on his company 11 years ago.

Fawn Griffin, Budget Restaurant Supply,
Houston, Texas

Fawn’s introduction to the foodservice industry was 18 years ago when she started as a bookkeeper for GCS Service, a division of Ecolab Inc. She then worked for Preferred Foodservice for 14 years where she was responsible for bookkeeping, collection, sales, customer service, project management, purchasing, and inventory control.

She joined Budget only 8 months ago, but says this is the place to stay. “Being able to speak in Vietnamese with customers is a plus because I can take away barriers and put the customer at ease. We want our 
customers to know that their investment is spent on the right equipment for the right application. I earn my customer’s trust and respect by 
creating a relationship, not just making a sale,” says Griffin.

At Budget, Fawn’s focus is mainly on purchasing and project 
management. She also helps with the high volume of traffic that Budget receives in their showroom.

Finding sincere enjoyment in helping others be more successful 
is a true testament to your character.

“Being able to help customers with solutions to their challenges is what I enjoy most. Purchasing is my second favorite thing to do. At Budget, I can do both.”

Fawn started the SEFAPro training program several years ago at her former company. Fawn worked hard to become a Level 7 SEFAPro and is among an elite group of SEFAPros.

She is so happy to be a part of the great team at Budget Restaurant Supply and is grateful for the 
opportunity to get back to SEFA training. “There is no doubt that SEFA training has helped me become the person that I am today. I grew out of my timid shell and into a competent sales professional. Armed with SEFA knowledge, I can handle all challenges, large and small, with confidence. The entire SEFA family is so helpful and I have met and made friends with so many people through SEFA. Participating in a SEFA event feels like attending a family reunion to me. I love reaching out to newbies just like others reached out to me when I first started,” says Griffin.

Fawn told me the person that has inspired her the most is Tedde Reid. Fawn has so much respect and admiration for Tedde and what she has created in SEFA. Fawn also wanted to thank Tom Stritch for his constant encouragement and kind words.

Fawn has been happily married for 41 years. She and her husband have 2 daughters and a two-year old granddaughter. They have lived in the same house for 38 years in Stafford, right outside of Houston,
Texas. In her spare time, Fawn enjoys cooking, sewing, and listening to books on tape.

SEFA is proud to recognize Fawn as Featured SEFAPro. She is dedicated, reliable, professional, and friendly. Fawn is always positive and just a pleasure to be around. We are so happy to have Fawn back at SEFA training events.

Larry Fruchtman, Manning Brothers Food Equipment Company, Athens, Georgia

Larry Fruchtman has been in the foodservice industry for 31 years. Before the age of 18, he had already worked in fast food, pizza, and sandwich shops, and had mastered the art of bussing tables. Since then he has waited tables, bartended, and cooked in restaurants from casual to fine dining. All of his foodservice experience turned into management positions at restaurants and country clubs. Larry had learned and experienced just about every aspect of a foodservice operation.

A great aha moment happens when an opportunity comes along that you’ve trained for all of your life.

Larry decided to make a change when he learned about an opportunity at Manning Brothers. This would be his chance to help foodservice operations by introducing equipment and supply solutions to them.  He has been with Manning Brothers for 2-1/2 years as a sales representative. He covers the mountains and foothills of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. His opportunities include, but are not limited to, restaurants, schools, camps, country clubs, hospitals, and hotels.

Chuck Day, president of Manning Brothers, says, “When Larry came on board, I was skeptical at first. He had worked in all aspects of country club operations from busboy to Clubhouse Manager, but what did he know about sales? How would that experience translate into helping a customer solve the needs of their operation? My fears, it turns out, were quickly calmed as Larry has proven time and again, that he has the experience to ask the right questions to provide the right solution for the application.  Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling.”

What Larry likes most about his job is the people he meets and the opportunity to learn something new everyday.

To work for a company that provides training and opportunities for personal growth is to know that you found a place to be successful and loyal.

Manning Brothers is a strong advocate of SEFA training. This is one of the many benefits of Manning Brothers that Larry enjoys.  Larry is moving forward in the SEFAPro program. He says the knowledge gained through SEFAPro training helps him to serve customers better.  He is able to share the knowledge with his customers and offer them options and solutions for their operations. He says on a personal level, the training pushes him to always improve.

“You can’t worry about what an employee DOESN’T know, it’s better to recognize their willingness to learn and their enthusiasm. Larry wants to learn; he wants to be a SEFAPro Level 8! He wants to know everything there is to know about this business, and he wants to be the greatest possible resource to his customers,” says Chuck Day.

Larry recalls a significant moment when he was young and waiting tables. He witnessed a chef telling one of the waiters, “you have time to smile”.  Larry said, “It resonated with me how serious he wanted us all to be in order to provide the ultimate experience for the guests.”

Larry lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia with his wife Erin, their two boys Noah and Cooper, and their dog Lucy. He is an avid disc golfer, always looking for a new course to play.

SEFA is proud to recognize Larry Fruchtman as Featured SEFAPro for the month of July. He brings a multitude of operations experience to the table, and has a passion to learn and grow on the equipment and supply side of things with Manning Brothers.   Chuck Day told us, “In my years of doing this job, few people come along who can be as upbeat and positive as Larry ALWAYS is. We have sales meetings and webinars and he participates and asks the right questions based on his experience and helps my other sales and customer service staff see the industry from a different perspective. Larry has been a valuable asset to the success and growth of Manning Brothers.”

Ken Schleinkofer, PJP, Philadelphia, PA

Ken has been in the foodservice industry for 29 years. While in high school he worked at National Products in Philadelphia and continued working there through college.  When he finished school, he joined the sales team at National. He then spent 10 years managing a restaurant supply store, before joining the PJP family.

For the last 9 years, he filled the role of E&S Manager for the PJP Marketplace stores. He is proud of this position and very excited about the fact that they are in the process of opening a new location.  Catherine Davis from PJP says, “Ken is a valuable asset to the PJP team and has greatly impacted the success of our growing Marketplace Stores.”

A smart management team supports individuals on their team to utilize their talent, reach their personal best, and continue to climb without limitations.

“Opportunities are endless with PJP, as they encourage unlimited growth. I manage the E&S sales for our three locations and the fourth is opening soon,” says Schleinkofer.  His duties include maintaining accurate stock levels, pricing, and assisting customers with making the proper equipment selections for their business.

He told us his position at PJP is very rewarding because the ownership and management teams give him every opportunity to succeed. “What is great about the foodservice industry is that no two days are the same and I have the unique
opportunity to meet and work with a diverse group of great people,” says Schleinkofer.

Having a consistent drive to learn more and reach new levels is the best way to find your  open road to success.

Ken is dedicated to training and greatly appreciates the opportunity to advance to new levels in the SEFAPro program. In fact, Ken’s recent advancement has brought him Level 2 status and qualifies him for the upcoming NAFEM reward trip. “I have belonged to three different buying groups, (SEFA, NAFED, and IFED). SEFA training is by far the superior of the three.  The National Sales Conferences bring the best people from the factories to train and show us features and benefits of the products we are selling.  The training has definitely helped me and I’m sure will continue to help,” says Schleinkofer.

Ken has recently become a ServSafe instructor and proctor. “I really enjoy teaching the class and am hopeful that I am helping others to be safer with food handling and preparations. I also just began the Cicerone course passing level one and intend to move on to level two in the near future.  Cicerone is to beer as sommelier is to wine,” says Schleinkofer.   

When someone you respect influences you with wisdom, you know instantly that you’ll take it with you forever.

Ken told us about someone who stands out in his mind as someone who has inspired him to be successful.  “When I was working with National Products, Harry Caplen spent a lot of time explaining to me the importance of customer service.  He always used to tell me if you sell on price you will only sell them once, sell them on service and you will sell them forever.  When I joined PJP and walked through the building for the first time, I saw the sign that read ‘Where Service is First’ and I knew I was home,” says Schleinkofer.

Ken has lived in Bensalem, PA for the last 20 years with his wife Joan, daughter Samantha, and sons John and David.  He enjoys making homemade hot sauce, cheering on his hometown teams, and working on home improvement projects.

SEFA is proud to recognize Ken Schleinkofer as Featured SEFAPro for the month of August.  His passion for the industry matches his passion for the success of PJP. He is committed to training, both as a student and as an instructor. Ken shares his knowledge with his customers and enjoys providing equipment and supply solutions for their operations. Congratulations, Ken.

Eli Goldring, Culinary Depot, Lakewood, NJ

Eli entered the world of foodservice when he joined Culinary Depot, ten years ago.  Feeling very grateful for the opportunity to be on the Culinary Depot team, Eli recalls how he got started. “Sholem Potash, President and founder of Culinary Depot, was looking to hire a salesman to represent the southern New Jersey area. I knew Michael Lichter of Culinary Depot from growing up in the same neighborhood.   My past roles included experience in sales, so I interviewed and was hired to be part of the sales team,” says Goldring.

Eli is a sales executive/manager for Culinary Depot.  His role is to acquire new sales, as well as service and maintain current accounts.  His responsibilities range from the designing of new kitchens/dining areas to project management. Operating as part of a strong team, Eli also helps and oversees a few other salesmen. “Building and maintaining customer relationships is a huge priority,” says Goldring.  Being on the road and visiting his customers is a big part of his responsibilities and one that he enjoys.

Understanding the needs of your customers and striving for their success puts you in a whole different league.

“I truly enjoy the fast-paced, on-the-go aspect of being a traveling salesman.  Foodservice is one of the largest and most important industries out there.  I feel I do a great job at always making sure my customers have what they need, when they need it, with the assistance of all the people I work with at Culinary Depot.  The manufacturers and the reps that we work with are all such fine people and a huge factor in our success,” says Goldring.

Culinary Depot is a strong proponent of SEFA training and believes in investing in their people. Eli is very successful in the SEFA training program and is on his way to earning the NAFEM trip.  He believes in gaining knowledge through training and he works hard. “SEFA has definitely played a big part in helping me grow professionally in the foodservice industry.  With all of their teachings, they have helped me to go from a novice to an expert in product knowledge. The training has also given me a better understanding of the foodservice industry overall.  SEFA training has truly allowed me to grow every day on a professional and personal level and to develop great relationships with key factory personnel.  Without the opportunity given by SEFA to meet suppliers in person, I would not have the strong relationships that I have today.” says Goldring.

The source of your inspiration says a lot about your character.

Eli has a lot to say about the people who inspire him and have helped him to get to where he is today. “I would like to thank my parents for their support and guidance.  Without them, I would not be the man I am today. Our President Sholem Potash, as well as our CEO Michael Lichter,  have definitely inspired me to become the best salesman I can possibly be and have helped me along the way to excel in all areas of the job.  The manufacturers, reps, and the entire SEFA team have also been a great support throughout my career.  They have all helped me to get to where I am in my career today,” says Goldring.

Michael Lichter, CEO of Culinary Depot says, “Eli joined Culinary Depot as our first outside Sales representative. He has been a truly valuable asset from day one, whether it’s helping other salesmen when needed, going the extra mile for the company, or giving his customers the best experience possible. Eli has greatly impacted our success and growth. We are so proud of his achievements and look forward to continued success for many years to come.”

Eli lives in Lakewood, New Jersey with his family.  He enjoys being a husband to his wife Dini and is a very proud father of their five children, ranging in age from newborn to 11 years old.  Not only is Eli a good family man, he truly enjoys helping individuals in his community.  He enjoys his work and is very interested in and loves to learn about healthcare and the foodservice industry.  He loves to travel, especially if it is to visit one of his customers, manufacturers, or just to gain more knowledge in the industry.

SEFA is very proud to recognize Eli Goldring as Featured SEFAPro. He is very focused and he works hard. He enjoys helping others and is an all-around good person.  His dedication and loyalty to his family, to Culinary Depot, his customers, manufacturers, reps, and the foodservice industry is to be applauded.  Congratulations, Eli.

Nikki Shishido, Avanti Restaurant Solutions, Costa Mesa, CA

Nikki’s journey in the foodservice industry began when she joined Avanti Restaurant Supply in March of 2014. She not only found an opportunity with a phenomenal company, she was formally introduced to an industry she has loved from the very first day.

When a huge opportunity comes your way, you know instantly it will be one of your major milestones.

Nikki shared her experience of finding her life-changing opportunity with Avanti. “In late 2013, my college friend and now co-worker, Jamie Hernandez, advised me that Avanti was hiring a project assistant in their new Southern California office. Although I had not worked professionally in the foodservice industry, I was up for the challenge after hearing her speak so highly of the culture at Avanti, on so many occasions.  The companies I had worked for in the past did not see the value in creating a personal connection with their employees.  The core values Avanti set in place and strive to live up to each day were really appealing to me. It’s rare to find a company who invests in their people, making them feel valued and appreciated.” says Shishido.

Nikki is a Project Assistant for Avanti’s growing Southern California location. She says her role is to take any task her project managers give her and see it through to completion. Her tasks could be coordinating an install, finding a lost shipment, cutting purchase orders, or picking up gourmet donuts for Mark Rossi.

“One of our core values is “Desire to Grow.” This is my favorite core value because Avanti provides me with the daily opportunities to challenge myself in both my professional and personal life.  I appreciate that I have executives who trust me enough to let me figure things out and make decisions on my own.  As long as I keep our core values in mind while making these decisions, I’m allowed to make mistakes and can chalk it up as a learning experience. If I ever want to learn something new, someone in our company is there to mentor me and get me going on the right path!” says Shishido.

When your work brings out the best in you, you’re in the right place.

Nikki loves the fact that there are new challenges every day.  She enjoys working with clients and manufacturers on the many new up-and-coming restaurant chain projects. “There is so much to absorb. This industry not only feeds my natural appetite but quenches my theoretical thirst as well. I’ve always had a love for food growing up, but I’m not that great in the kitchen!  As a self-proclaimed foodie, it is rewarding to see a restaurant build go from design to equipment installation, knowing that we helped to play a part in that location’s success,” says Shishido.   

As Nikki mentioned, Avanti invests in their employees and equips them with the tools to be successful. Nikki is very focused on learning as much as she can and is successful in the SEFAPro program. “SEFA has been a valuable resource to me. The  National Sales Conferences provide me with networking opportunities with industry leaders that can help answer my questions. SEFA training also gives me learning opportunities and tools to educate myself while staying up-to-date on the endless products we spec into the kitchens we design and build,” says Shishido.

Mark Rossi, President of Avanti, had this to say, “Nikki is a rising star at Avanti and she is a pleasure to be around.  In addition, she is very smart and intuitive when it comes to dealing with the needs of our customers.  She is well-liked not only by her co-workers, but customers and vendors alike.  I’m excited for Nikki to be honored as this month’s SEFAPro!”

High achievers often have a strong foundation of inspiration behind them. “My parents have always been behind me 100% to support me in every endeavor I pursued, even if they didn’t always see eye-to-eye with me. They just want to see me happy and they love me enough to let me discover life on my own terms. I can’t thank them enough for that,” says Shishido.   

Nikki was born and raised in Hawaii, then moved to Los Angeles to attend USC for her undergrad.  After graduation, she decided to stay in Southern California to avoid island-fever.  Her desire to be closer to the beach as well as extended family, prompted her move to Orange County, California. “When I’m not at work, I enjoy traveling and eating my way through the world!  I also attend international music festivals which have taken me to different countries throughout Asia, Australia, and Europe,” says Shishido.

SEFA is proud to recognize Nikki as Featured SEFAPro. She is dedicated, reliable, professional, and friendly. Nikki puts 100% into everything she does and is no stranger to success. She enjoys being a team player and it shows.

Dave Benz, Dean Supply, Cleveland, OH

Dave has been with Dean Supply for 27 years. Early in his career, he gained valuable experience on the operator side of the industry, through a variety of foodservice positions. He has always enjoyed the foodservice industry. In addition to his position at Dean, Dave currently owns and operates a pizza, sub, and ice cream shop.

Dave’s official title at Dean is Purchaser and Bid Coordinator. He is also responsible for installations, whether it be the hiring of contractors, or conducting installs himself. At Dean, he has held many positions. He started as a stock person and moved into outside sales and customer service. After learning more about the equipment side while working with customers and salespeople on equipment applications, he was promoted to purchasing.

Knowledge and passion are a great combination for success.

Dave is a Level 4 SEFAPro.  He is dedicated to training and appreciates the opportunities to get first-hand training from the top manufacturers in the industry.  “SEFA training has taught me so much. I learn something new at every SEFA National Sales Conference that I attend. I rely on the training to help me make the best stocking decisions for our company and to help customers find the best solutions for their operations,” says Benz.

When we asked Dave who inspires him or has helped him to get to where he is today, he expressed a sincere appreciation for the commitment of the manufacturers that participate in SEFA training. He is proud to be a SEFAPro and recognizes the value that SEFA training has provided him both personally and professionally.

Larry DeSatnik, president of Dean Supply, says, “Dave always puts SEFA first and has utilized many of the tools that SEFA has provided to better his knowledge of the industry. He is a great example of what SEFA can do in the arena of training and core competency!”

Dave lives on the far eastside of Cleveland. When he’s not at work or at his pizza shop, he is spending time with his four grandchildren.

SEFA is proud to recognize Dave as Featured SEFAPro for the month of November. He brings talent and expertise to the table, while maintaining an intelligent focus and sincere passion for the industry.

Shelly Sorrells, Thompson & Little, Fayetteville, NC

Shelly joined the foodservice industry as an operations/office manager for an electrical contracting company that bid on and installed several electrical projects in the foodservice industry. Along with all aspects of A/P, A/R, human resources, compliance, marketing, and pay apps, she assisted the project managers as needed on their quotes, permits, and bids.

She went on to be the operations/office manager for a company that installed and serviced grease traps, collected the used fryer oil, and then converted the used fryer oil into bio-diesel fuel. There she did everything from managing employees, the truck routes, negotiating the sale of the used fryer oil, marketing, A/P, A/R, human resources, compliance, and overseeing of the recycling of the grease trap/waste water.

After gaining experience in different aspects of the foodservice industry, Shelly found the opportunity of a lifetime when she joined Thompson & Little.

Shelly interviewed at Thompson & Little for a position on the contracting side of the house, as an assistant project manager. “When I met with Drew, we just clicked and he created a marketing and eCommerce/sales development position for me and I was like a dog with a bone.  They had just been approved for their GSA eCommerce site and it was my job to load it up,” says Sorrells.

“Who knew the foodservice industry would be my calling? I find it fun and fascinating and love that I do so many different things every day. I absolutely love coming to work and enjoy working with the great people at Thompson & Little, wonderful Rep Groups, and our SEFA team. As corny as that sounds, I say it ALL the time!” says Sorrells.

The sky is the limit.   This is how Shelly describes her responsibilities and opportunities at Thompson & Little.

“At Thompson & Little, we pride ourselves on our quick response times and really helping our customers. We do what it takes to provide the best customer service,” says Sorrells.  Shelly says most of her roles are deadline driven. “Paying attention to detail is critical, whether it’s for a quote/ bid or a deadline to upload items to our GSA schedule, FedMall or any of our other government eCommerce sites. One little mishap can have a negative impact on the outcome and the bottom line,” says Sorrells.

Shelly has been working with the government in some capacity for over 23 years and says the role she enjoys most at Thompson & Little is her position as government sales manager. It’s so much more than a job to her. “When you walk into our department, we want you to feel at home and welcomed with rustic Americana and Patriotic charm.  I honestly am honored and have so much pride every day knowing that I get to help people who are in federal jobs, such as the Military, Missile Defense Agency, Bureau of Prisons, Police, etc.  This position truly makes me happy and I LOVE my job,” says Sorrells.

People who are truly successful, encourage success in others.

Thompson & Little is a company that invests in their employees and encourages training opportunities for personal and professional growth. Shelly is a strong believer in continued training and is very successful in the SEFAPro program. In fact, Shelly wanted to lend the following words of advice to anyone that is new to the program. “I recommend the SEFA training to anyone who actually wants to better themselves, both personally and professionally. The training helps you focus on key manufacturers and if you soak it all up like a sponge, there is nothing like it!  Participate in the webinars and at the National Sales Conferences. You will take something away from both the classes and the social events, it’s GREAT! Don’t be intimidated. It can be scary if you’re there alone and don’t know anybody or if you’re in a class and it seems like everyone knows more than you. But, we are all there for the same reason. Follow through with emails and ask questions when you don’t know something. That’s how I’ve improved. I’ve learned to participate, ask questions, and put myself out there. If you get something wrong, there will always be a Drew O’Quinn, David Maxwell, Chuck Day, Tony Riggins or another guru in your class to help you,” says Sorrells.

Shelly can think of so many people who inspire her and have helped her to get where she is today. “Both of my parents were extremely hard workers. Growing up, we knew the meaning of responsibility, hard work, and dedication. I definitely get my work ethic from my parents. My family, fiancé Will and daughter Alex, fully support me in anything and everything I do, especially the long hours, missed dinners, and weekends. I am the luckiest woman alive. Drew O’Quinn is a great boss. He not only motivates me when it’s needed, he is also my biggest cheerleader. He listens to all of my ideas and green lights most of them and tells me to go for it!  Playing sports all of my life has made me into the team player I am today.  Not only do I have an amazing team (Team Gov.), but I need to acknowledge Heather Hartley, who is our marketing director and our regular eCommerce manager. She has been such a wonderful addition to Thompson & Little and she helps us with all of our government pages/sites and marketing. And last, but definitely not least, is my amazing assistant, Michelle Szyjka, who works right beside me, tirelessly trying to keep me straight and working her tail off as well. So, she basically has two full-time jobs, but I can’t do this without her,” says Sorrells.

Drew O’Quinn, Vice President of Thompson & Little, had a few things to say about Shelly. “Since Shelly first joined the Thompson & Little team over three years ago, she has dedicated herself to learning the ins and outs of our industry. Shelly is the first person in the room to sign up for any training, whether that be a SEFA webinar, a factory tour, or a SEFA National Sales Conference. Her eagerness to learn the products and develop her skills as a DSR have been very instrumental in her department’s sales growth. Shelly works extremely hard and is the last person to leave the office on many nights. Given her pursuit of excellence, I am not surprised to see her efforts pay off in sales growth and satisfied customers.”

Shelly lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  She loves her fiancé Will and her daughter Alex. She also loves her “Wolfpack” which consist of her five dogs, Chaos, Harley, Pup Pup, Hammy (short for Mayhem), and Ace. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing board games, singing karaoke in her living room, and watching karaoke in a bar.  Shelly can be a practical joker. All in all, she’s just loving life.

SEFA is proud to recognize Shelly as Featured SEFAPro. She is full of life and it shows.  She is focused, professional, and always ready to learn more. Shelly has already achieved one of her 2017 New Year’s resolutions. After she was nominated, she admitted that being a Featured SEFAPro was one of her goals for 2017. Considering her dedication and success in the program and her desire to help others starting up in the program, it’s not surprising she’s already accomplished this goal.  Congratulations, Shelly!