Featured SEFAPros Archive – 2020

Mark Maggi, PJP, Philadelphia, PA

Mark entered the foodservice industry when he took a job as a busboy at the age of sixteen. Since then, he has held various waitering and catering jobs throughout the years.  Even when he wasn’t working full time in foodservice, he would moonlight on weekends out of college.  In 2007, Mark took a position as the foodservice manager of McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park. In this position, he managed all of the marketing, events, and corporate meetings held there.  “I was there during multiple Phillies playoff runs and their 2008 World Series victory,” says Maggi.

Mark received an opportunity to work for one of the vendors he was working with while at McFadden’s.  The vendor was PJP. Mark joined the PJP team in 2014 and couldn’t be happier. His responsibilities include sales with a focus on multi-unit operations, along with high volume and new construction projects.

To sincerely express the same passion for your customer’s business as they do, is the foundation for strong, loyal, and enjoyable relationships that last forever.

Mark takes great pride in being the person that customers trust to help them get what they need. “I love to work with people and provide solutions to their challenges. As a vendor, I still get to enjoy the excitement of opening a new operation or adding a new item to the menu.  My background helps me talk their language and truly understand the issues they have, because I once had the same issues,” says Maggi.

Mark is very successful in the SEFAPro program.  He is currently a Level 3 SEFAPro and climbing.  Mark earned and attended the 2019 SEFAPro Celebration trip for his achievements in the program. “The SEFAPro program has introduced me to new opportunities.  We sell paper and chemicals along with equipment and supplies.  There is a longer learning process for equipment and supplies and SEFA helps accelerate that learning process.   The sales conferences give me the product knowledge and the connections to key manufacturers that help me introduce product lines to customers.  I often take pictures while I’m at a SEFA conference and send them to customers.  I like to get them thinking and learning as I’m learning. From a personal development standpoint, the Academy programs are phenomenal.  They really help with your overall mindset when you’re out in the field,” says Maggi.

There’s nothing better for professional growth than mentors that have the qualities you respect and strive to achieve.

Here’s what Mark had to say when we asked him if he could think of anyone that has inspired him and helped him to get to where he is today, “My father, Larry Maggi. He also works for PJP. I followed his path in this industry.  He brought my brother Matthew into the business as well. Steve Lettero (Sales Manager when I started) and Bill Daily (E&S Specialist) pushed SEFA and its benefits when I first came to PJP.  I saw how involved they were and how much they learned. Then there’s the Furia Family.  I don’t think I would be at PJP had it not been for the Furia Family and the family culture of this company,” says Maggi.

SEFA is proud to recognize Mark Maggi as January’s Featured SEFAPro. Mark is dedicated to staying on top of industry trends and learning about new equipment and supply solutions for his customers.  He builds relationships based on integrity, honesty, and trust. He is a true asset to the foodservice industry. Congratulations, Mark!

Lindsay Render, Great Lakes West, Southfield, Michigan

Lindsay has been in the foodservice industry for eight years, beginning when she joined Great Lakes West as an estimator. Over the years, she took on more responsibilities, until eventually landing in a Project Management position.

Lindsay is the Project Management Lead for the National Accounts Department. “We handle airport and travel plaza concessions, as well as a few other chain accounts across North America and Canada. My department handles everything from a single replacement piece, to a full new construction kitchen, and everything in between,” says Render.

Lindsay loves the fact that no day is ever the same. “Even though I do generally the same thing for each project, every project has its own unique challenges to figure out, which keeps me on my toes. I love being a problem solver, and having the freedom to think “outside of the box” when providing solutions for my customers,” says Render.

“Every time I come home from a SEFA conference, I just feel good.  It’s like I’ve had my motivation and inspiration lit on fire!”

Lindsay earned and attended the SEFAPro celebration trip last year. She is very focused and takes SEFA training very seriously. “SEFA training has helped me tremendously from a knowledge and self-confidence standpoint. When I am on site for project installs, I’m not only managing the project, but my customers and their operators always have equipment questions that are unrelated to my current project (as they are usually in charge of multiple restaurants). Having the equipment training provides me with a great knowledge base, knowing at least a little bit about everything, so I can have those conversations on the spot. On top of that, the networking we get to do at these conferences is unmatched. We get so much time to meet new people that are working hard just like us and constantly trying to do right by their customers.  We are able to bond over common issues and help each other come up with solutions. We learn from each other’s experiences. Being able to get face time with the manufacturers and being able to call them when you have an issue, is amazing! Every time I come home from a SEFA conference, I just feel good.  It’s like I’ve had my motivation and inspiration lit on fire!” says Render.

Here’s what Lindsay said when asked if there is anyone who inspires her,  “I want to give a shout out to Mary Martin from Great Lakes West, who saw potential in me and gave me the opportunity to be part of her team. She spent so much time helping me learn and grow, and making sure I had the tools I needed to be successful.  I’ve never had someone put so much time and effort into me and I think it really helped me start my career at Great Lakes West on the right foot. She handed down her passion, and “do whatever it takes” attitude and I hope that I’m able to inspire others the way she has inspired me,” says Render.

Lindsay lives in SW Michigan with her husband, Jeremy, and their two cats, Thor & Loki. “We love traveling to new places, the outdoors, hanging out with friends and family (of course centered around food and drinks), and movies (to keep us busy during those inevitable Michigan winter months),” says Render.

SEFA is proud to recognize Lindsay as Featured SEFAPro!  Her attitude, hard work, passion, and ability to really maximize the training and networking, exemplifies what the SEFAPro program is all about. Lindsay is friendly, focused and determined.  Foodservice professionals are definitely in good hands when working with Lindsay.  Congratulations, Lindsay!

Dan Christians, Culinex, Fargo, ND

Dan has been in the foodservice industry for 19 years. He started at Dakota Food Equipment, now Culinex, in 2001 as an inside sales representative. “I had just graduated from college and had limited foodservice or sales skills. Still, Kevin Bouma, the current owner of Culinex, gave me this great opportunity,” says Christians.

Dan’s role at Culinex progressed through the years.  He spent fifteen years as an outside salesman, working with customers in western Minnesota. He is currently a sales manager at Culinex. Dan loves having the opportunity to guide and train their awesome sales team and enjoys his role on the leadership team, that allows him involvement with company development initiatives.

Mark Howes, President of Culinex, said, “Dan is very professional and a great student of our industry. He is a big part of Culinex’s success and its future.”

Dan is a huge fan of Culinex and a strong team player. “Over the years, the best part of my position has been the great customers with whom I have had the opportunity to develop long relationships.  Now as the sales manager, I still assist some of our customers, but primarily I enjoy guiding our salespeople and helping newer team members learn the foodservice business.  As we all know, in this industry, you experience something new almost every day and I love the constant challenges that come with that,” says Christians.

Culinex places a high level of importance on team training. They are also notorious for supporting their team and providing the tools necessary to be successful.  Dan has been very engaged and successful in the SEFAPro program. “Since we joined a few years back, I have been extremely impressed with SEFA’s dedication to training.  I have attended SEFA National Sales Conferences as well as a SEFA Academy, and bring back great information every time to help our team.  Not only does SEFA focus on product training, but sales training and personal development as well.  Thank you to everyone who puts this together for the dealers,” says Christians.

Behind Great Leaders, There are Very Often More Great Leaders.

We asked Dan who inspires him. “Culinex, Kevin Bouma and Mark Howes have been tremendous leaders and helped greatly in my development.  Also, my father has been an inspiration for me.  He was never in this industry, but he was in sales his whole life.  Watching him over the years, gave me a foundation of how to treat people with honesty and respect,” says Christians.   

Dan lives in West Fargo, North Dakota with his wife Karrin and their two daughters, Taylor and Samantha.  Dan and his family love to spend time swimming, fishing, and skiing at their family lake cabin.  “Also, I have had the privilege of coaching my daughter’s basketball team which was a blast and I serve on the executive council for our church,” says Christians.  He enjoys following sporting events and playing golf during the brief North Dakota summers.

SEFA is proud to recognize Dan Christians as Featured SEFAPro. He is dedicated to learning as much as he can so he can share what he learns with his team and customers. He is genuinely grateful for the opportunities he receives from being on the Culinex team. He is dedicated to his family, friends, colleagues, and customers.  Congratulations, Dan!

Michael Pearson, Kirby Restaurant Supply, Longview Texas

Michael has been with Kirby Restaurant Supply for 27 years; that’s when he considers himself officially joining the foodservice industry.   He says, if you count working in restaurants during high school and college, he’s been in the industry for 32 years.

Michael says he started in the foodservice industry by accident. He had worked in restaurants in high school and decided he never wanted to work in one again. “My career is somewhat ironic. I went to college to study architecture and design. At that time, “board” drawings with pencil, T-square, and eraser were still being taught as part of the curriculum, along with AutoCAD. I wanted to work in architecture and when I graduated from college, I had a few internships with local architects lined up, but none were ready to hire me. My dad was the Postmaster at a local post office, and he was pressuring me to go to work for the US Postal Service. I had developed a passion for design and instead responded to a local ad for a draftsman for layout and design, at Kirby Restaurant Supply,” says Pearson.

One recognized opportunity can change your entire path.

The opportunity that became available at Kirby, changed everything for Michael. “It was an entry level position since there was no field of study in college for this industry. After three months on the job, my supervisor/mentor left to take a position with Brinker International. This was during the period of Brinker’s (Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, etc.) growth. I was left to learn this business the hard way. It was a lot of early mornings and long evenings. When I finally looked up, I had been at Kirby for two years.”  Michael realized that architects were asking him how to layout and design kitchens and engineers were asking him how things worked. It all came together, and he was able to utilize his talents. This is when he realized Kirby was the perfect fit. “I have a passion for sketching. Everyone has their own unique gifts and God blessed me with the ability to see and visualize things in my head rather quickly and translate it to paper sketches. This was also a way to communicate our customer’s ideas, when 2D can only show certain aspects of thoughts.”

Michael is currently the vice president of engineering and operations at Kirby. He is in charge of their design and contract department. “I work with my estimators and contract administration staff to ensure profitability and success on our projects for both Kirby and our clients. Our opportunities are driven by our success. When we do our part successfully, we are positioned to be a valued partner for them. It typically leads to referrals to other members in their network.”

The most rewarding careers are the ones that enable you to utilize your talents.

Michael is passionate about his position with Kirby and is proud of what he brings to the table. “I enjoy working with our employees and our design clients. It’s satisfying to see a concept turn into a reality. I still remember the first project I was a part of 27 years ago and how that felt,” says Pearson.

Very successful in the SEFAPro training program, Michael is grateful for the opportunities to train. “SEFA training has helped me immensely. There is only so much knowledge retained when reading up on a piece of equipment. When time is invested to go to the National Sales Conferences, by both the dealers and the manufacturers, then true knowledge is gained.”

We asked Michael who has inspired and influenced his success. “I have several people that have inspired me. First, my father, Miles Pearson, always showed and taught me to treat people fair and to always do the right thing. Secondly, my mother, Rosie (Hong) Pearson, showed and taught me to always think about my actions and their consequences. Lastly, my grandmother, Mary Ella Pearson, showed and taught me that through faith in God, all things are possible. Growing up with these three people in my life, it was sometimes hard to see the lessons they were teaching at the time, but looking back now, I feel a tremendous amount of respect and admiration. My wife and I try our best to pass down their wisdom to our children.”

Michael has lived in Longview, Texas his entire life and loves to call East Texas his home. Longview has a population of approximately 80,000 people. “I enjoy the fact that we work in all the rural and major cities in Texas and across the country, but it feels so good to return back to East Texas.” Michael is a true family man and is very proud of his wife and children. “I have been married for 24 years to Kimberly. She has been a first-grade teacher for 17 years. I have a son, Miles, that is a senior in college. He will graduate with a civil engineering degree. I have a daughter, Ella, that is a senior in high school. She is enrolled to attend college in the fall of 2020,” says Pearson. He  enjoys tournament bass fishing and is usually on a local lake every weekend. “I am literally in God’s country. In less than an hour in any direction, I have access to some of the best lakes and fisheries in the country, not to mention Friday Night Lights,” says Pearson. He also enjoys watching high school football and baseball.

SEFA is proud to recognize Michael Pearson as April’s Featured SEFAPro. Michael is dedicated to staying on top of industry trends and learning about new equipment and supply solutions for his customers.  He builds relationships based on integrity, honesty, and trust. He is a true asset to the foodservice industry. Congratulations, Michael!

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