Jersey Based Rep Pecinka Ferri Moves To New Quarters To Deliver Enhanced Portfolio Of Services To Tri-State Dealer And Consultant Community
Can you tell us a little about the history of Pecinka Ferri?
Ed Pecinka: The company started back in 1972 as McKeever and Dumbach Associates. McKeever was a direct factory rep for the Blodgett Company. George Dumbach had worked for Traulsen, then went to Blodgett as regional sales manager. They decided to put the two Blodgett guys together, gave them the Hatco line and that’s how the company started. George and my dad knew each other from the Traulsen days and my dad was looking to make a move. Traulsen was changing, he was given an opportunity and he decided to leave Traulsen after 38 years and go to work as a manufacturer’s rep.
Joe Ferri: Nineteen years ago we started up the process of me buying out George’s heirs. Ed and I have been partners for almost 20 years!
How has the role of the rep changed and evolved over the years?
Ferri: Before our move to Fairfield, we spent a week discarding the remnants of that role, including order pads, fax transmittals, carbon paper, and catalogs & price lists. We saved only the few that had any historic value. Reps formerly had extensive libraries, and we were the knowledge base. Now everything is online and digitized. Although technology has completely evaporated the way we did things, the concept of why those tools existed hasn’t changed. We’re still in the education and marketing business, but the mechanisms have evolved.
Pecinka: Some reps have used the analogy that the rep is like a calculator. The calculator did simple tasks. Now the same calculator will do a ton of functions!
Why, in a world of technology, has the rep become more important, rather than less?
Pecinka: We represent many forward-thinking companies. They also understand better than most that there is the need for manufacturing reps. No matter what we do in terms of the technology or how much of a role the Internet plays in the business, people still want relationships. Someone needs to take ownership of the customer when there’s a problem or issue. The game changer in sales is always going to be the relationship. Some may think it’s the bells and whistles, others price, but it comes down to the ability of that sales rep to answer those needs.
Ferri: Terry Brock talks about e-commerce and r-commerce. e-commerce provides the tools but r-commerce is the relationship commerce. It’s all still part of the human interaction.
Moving into your new home, how will it respond to this evolution of what you do?
Ferri: One of the issues with e-commerce is the paucity of experiential sales because folks are so tied to their screens. We need to take it to the streets! So we started a program of Hatco road shows. Simultaneously we’re building an enhanced test kitchen with all the bells and whistles that technology provides. Also, we’re adopting the Starbucks model so that end users, dealers and consultants have a crash pad here in our offices with WiFi and coffee and all the accoutrements required to do business in today’s mobile world. We’re a waypoint on the mobile highway.
Pecinka: One of the things we always tried to promote to customers in our prior facility was that it was their facility as much as ours. We had the test kitchen and training area but it was all done with what we had. Now we have a conference room for training where we can bring people in for training in a more professional environment. It’s the same concept in moving forward with our test facility.
You brought on a really bright young chef with your test kitchen. Last year you had a Greek dinner. You have a unique ability to understand the menu needs of your consultants and dealers and then their end-user customers. Talk about how you see that growing out of what you’re doing.
Ferri: Nick Mercogliano is a 23-year old certified executive chef. His latest experience before us was with a major health care institution, so he brings us an incredibly varied knowledge base on culinary trends, despite his young age. Nick was just at the ACF conference in Florida as the youngest president of his local ACF chapter, and he’s very active with the health care association, AHF as well. He gives us that window into culinary trends and the lowest-hanging fruit for foodservice and equipment, which is the health care market. It’s the largest growing segment.
What kinds of cooking trends should readers be aware of as we move into the new year?
Ferri: In pan-Asian there are still a lot of openings going on. Pizza, surprisingly, makes a comeback but a blending and morphing of different concepts. One of our lines, Irinox, has been a key growth instrument for us because of raw and vegan initiatives. We’ve been hearing about these culinary trends for a while, but they’re still very much upon us. With raw food there’s an enhanced need for proper refrigeration and handling. The cooking equipment guys have to recognize its importance in culinary trends.
Pecinka: People don’t even think about refrigeration solutions. It’s just a cold box. But being able to hold the proper temperature and being able to get the product to the right temperature rapidly is an invaluable solution for all of those food trends that are the next thing. On a monthly basis we still get calls about wanting to open a burger place. It continues to be the comfort food. Being that we do have so much experience with our frying business, we’re fortunate to be involved in all of that.
Sounds like we have mini-trends that have become not just fads but here to stay. As a rep you need to address that as each of those market matures.
Ferri: What we’re seeing is the food hall concept coming into the hinterland. We’re seeing blends of all of those and I was just out on the West Coast in Portland where they have the pod concept. It’s a blend of food trucks/mall food court, where trailers are assembled around a common area. Here in New Jersey we’re working on a few of these food hall concepts. In New York City tons of celebrity chefs will do those next year and all of those are a blend of various concepts. Millennials want an incredible selection of different food products at one seating and that’s why retail grocers are starting to do much better with meals ready to eat than in the past. Home meal replacement has skyrocketed there. It’s the blend of all the concepts and the various permutations of those blended concepts that you’re going to see take over the industry.
So the rep needs to be able to do a job with a non-traditional, foodservice operator as well as a traditional one?
We need on the fly to go from that Mediterranean concept to a Vietnamese concept to a coffee concept. You name it, particularly with our set-up, now that we’re in Fairfield, we’re going to continue to promote these vignettes in our facility where you can visualize the hardware needed to produce any one of those concepts.