Clearly the key to success in any industry in 2020, is the ability to quickly adapt to challenges that have never before been encountered. In the foodservice equipment solutions business, nobody has done a better job than Plymouth, MA based JMC Food Equipment.
With University of Hartford graduate Brian Eck at the helm, the Baystate enterprise has been able to build on its well-known refrigeration and cooking lines. Those addition which include industry leading plexiglass dividers have found themselves at the center of foodservice operation strategies as restaurateurs seek to survive and, in many cases, even use the Pandemic to their advantage. Since taking the reins of JMC in 2005, Eck has continually listened to and quickly responded to the needs of the foodservice professional.
JMC’s initial foray under Eck was to create a furniture division. Eck brought a lifetime of being in and around the restaurant and real estate industry to his current post. Originally founded in 1995 by his family, J.M. Curley’s Restaurant Equipment started as a used restaurant equipment dealership but quickly moved to sell new equipment within a few years.
“I watched my Dad growing up operate restaurants and at the same time, take a vacant building he owned and begin to fill it with used equipment from former competitors,” Eck reflected. “So, at 15 years old, I was going to school and heading to the auctions on the weekends, to learn the business. I began in college where I went to play baseball, studying engineering and quickly realized that I loved the business side.”
When Eck finished at the University of Hartford, he brokered a deal with his Dad to enter the business full time. “The deal was that I would get to put my imprint on the business. We were not doing furniture, so I agreed to comeback full time and in return, he would allow me to build a hospitality furniture division. With that in 2006 Eck created a new division of the company called JMC Furniture. “The key was to build sources to find the right mix of tables and chairs and most importantly to have access to inexpensive warehouse space.” Eck built the furniture business with an innovative model. “We originally sold direct to restaurants and then when we grew, I was able to buy in bulk and shift our focus to the needs of the smaller dealer,” he explained.
Eck’s vision included a unique understanding of the furniture market. “We really benefitted from the impact of the internet on the furniture market. It really squeezed the profit out of selling furniture for the dealer. So we were able to show them how to sell it profitably. People in our industry also didn’t realize how much labor is involved in selling furniture. You need to work directly with the customer to choose color and even the unpacking of the product. I knew it was important and, in many cases, a big-ticket item. I understood early on that a restaurant’s dining customer may not see the frig in the kitchen, but they certainly see and feel the tables, chairs and booths that directly impact their customer
JMC is the exclusive distributor of Topalit in the US. These unique tops are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use alike. They’re easy to maintain, scratch resistant, and can withstand the elements. JMC carries a full stock furniture line that ships quick from its New York warehouse within 24-48 Hours to anywhere in the US.
JMC’s entry into refrigeration once again reflects Eck’s ability to pivot before the word became fashionable during COVID-19. “We were originally in the refrigeration business in a traditional distribution model in which we would buy and sell truckloads of a brand we didn’t own. When the deal changed, I could see the importance of selling our own brand,” Eck added. With that he set out on a course to launch JMC’s own brand. “It really gave me a great opportunity to take what I learned about globalization in college and put it to work at JMC.”
With that has come two refrigeration brands that have become the choice of dealers and the end-user professionals they serve. Spartan Refrigeration has quickly become a staple in the foodservice industry. Boasting a superior 430 stainless steel exterior and 304 stainless steel interior, Spartan units are sleek in design and powerful in performance. Eck’s ability to quickly respond to his customer’s needs has also paid dividends as the Spartan line now offers an ice machine equipped with UV lights to meet the industry’s new pandemic protocols for sanitation.
“We also realized early on that we needed a value engineered solution,” Eck continued. “Bison Refrigeration units deliver the performance an economy price. With units ranging from stainless steel to glass door merchandisers, Bison offers a comprehensive lineup of value-priced refrigeration solutions. Pound for pound and built with stainless in and out and tested at 104 degrees, there simply isn’t a better value than Bison on the marketplace.”
JMC’s cooking line has become a favorite of the nation’s culinary community. Its Copper Beech line boasts everything from 10 burner ranges, broilers to convection ovens, fryers, electric griddles and single burner gas stock pots. Top chefs like the line’s sleek design, low maintenance and standard features that separate its units from the rest of the foodservice industry. Copper Beech products are backed by a 1-year parts and labor warranty.
Eck has also positioned JMC as a leader in the PPE foodservice industry. “I could see early on that there was going to be broad need for plexiglass shields across multiple segments. So we made a commitment to purchase millions of dollars of plexiglass and the machinery to cut and manufacture the shields that have enabled restaurants to reopen safely.” Spartan Shields are made with high-quality clear acrylic that is guaranteed to help prevent the spread of airborne illnesses within workplaces and retail settings.
The Pandemic has also enabled the JMC to be looked at in a different light by the nation’s dealers. “We understand that dealers want to fulfill their commitments to their buying groups. However with COVID-19 and the uncertainty of manufacturers to fill orders to labor and materials challenges in their factories, we have become a “go-to”. Dealers understand that first and foremost, they need to respond to the needs of their restaurant and foodservice customers and JMC has the inventory to accomplish that, Eck added. In addition, Eck and his JMC team support their dealers by calling the end-user operator to walk them through installation and operational details. “We’ve built our business with those 5-minute calls that differentiate us from other manufacturers.”
With that commitment to service that is above and beyond, among JMC’s most significant additions in 2020 has been the expansion of the company’s rep network. “We are thrilled to partner with Frank Doyle and his TD Marketing team in Metro New York,” Eck said. “They share our passion for offering quality products and service that goes that extra step. I can’t say enough about the folks on the TD team including Mike Fortanscio, who has been a true mentor to us.”
Eck’s ability to see the needs of the marketplace, will continue to serve as the foundation of JMC. That growth and feel for globalization has in fact enabled the company to grow beyond foodservice with the launch of Spartan Medical. The new division will serve the medical needs of the nations’ hospital and healthcare professionals. With COVID-19, JMC is no offering a complete line of air purification solutions under the newly created Spartan Air line. Eck sees that step has a building block to offer a full HVAC line that will be supported by the firm’s service network of some 2000 plus professionals across the US.