Heavy Duty: Will “Good Enough” Be Good Enough?

Heavy Duty foodservice equipment

Have you noticed how meaningless superlatives abound in marketing, overused until they no longer have any impact?  Hackneyed terms like “magnificent, outstanding, superb, best, extreme, consummate, matchless, standout, highest, greatest, best, and world-class” are now regularly dismissed as pointless fodder, or simply ignored.

Joe Ferri
Joe Ferri

And then, there’s the one that you’ll hear ad nauseum in foodservice equipment: heavy duty.

Nearly everyone will have a different understanding of this now-hollow descriptor. Just what in the heck does it mean? 

Is it metal gauge? Horsepower? BTU’s? Will “good enough” be good enough? Is the product fit for your purposes, will it last reasonably long, will the manufacturer fix it when it breaks?

If you are like most people when purchasing (or specifying) kitchenwares, you’ll want a benchmark against which to measure their quality. Occasionally, trade journals will attempt to establish value hierarchies. More telling are the operator surveys of equipment and supplies quality.

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Specifications, too, often belie nuances in equipment differentiation.  Weights, dimensions, and utility requirements are rarely an indicator of performance metrics, especially in the tech-centric world we live in. 

Although the budget may permit their inclusion, bear in mind that appliances of greater quality might not even be appropriate for a given application; lesser quality units, just because they are cheaper, shouldn’t be the automatic default either.

Transactional purchases further complicate the price/value continuum.  E-commerce purchases offer little or no exchange of expertise!  The Internet does a fine job of putting published information at our fingertips, but is no substitute for boots-on-the-ground experience.

Operators and specifiers truly must rely upon the integrity of suppliers to distinguish between “good, better, and best” offerings. Differentiation between trading partners should also be a critical factor in the selection process. Often, sadly, it is not. No, not all salespeople are interchangeable with each other. 

When consulting potential suppliers, look for CFSP (Certified Food Service Professional) designees NAFEM – the National Association of Foodservice Equipment Manufacturers has a stringent testing and vetting process for this designation. These folks are most likely to be the most heavy-duty of vendors.

Establishing the correct equipment for the job at hand should not be left to architects, operations personnel, service agents, or accountants either, although they all should have some input into the process. 

Several classes of vendors should be consulted in tandem, when an installation is critical to an operation’s ultimate success (and when isn’t it?).

Manufacturer’s representatives are partisan in their support of their factories, giving them the most granular perspective on product selection. The manufacturers pay them, and thus come at no cost to the operator/specifier.  Dealers will have a broader palate from which to paint, and can contrast different brands.  Consultants are fee-based and thus represent the client’s best interests in the specification process. 

We strongly believe that trusted expert suppliers are the key component in the value equation for a successful project.  Now, more than ever there are a multitude of choices.  Lean on the folks who know to benchmark them and bring clarity.

Clearly, “Heavy Duty” is in the eye of the beholder; the heavy duty rule? Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)!

Joe Ferri (aka the Foodiequipper) was conceived in a Greenwich Village speakeasy’s walk-in box, the love child of the hat check girl and bartender. He is in his fifth decade of (somewhat) gainful employment in the foodservice industry. He is past chairman of MAFSI and currently COO of Pecinka Ferri Assoc., a NY area equipment, furnishings and supplies representative.