Joe Scherer has worked in the food services industry for his entire career. His fifteen years of experience spans from corporate to private dining. Ultimately, Scherer followed his true passion and is now the Senior Director of Sales and Operations at Pedestal Foods.
Pedestal Foods provides contracted services for private K-12 schools and universities. Their clients range from Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, TN to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. In addition, Pedestal Foods operates in several K-12 schools in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis. The company offers on-site management of the teams that provide the campus dining programs. When a school or institution approaches Pedestal Foods, they’re usually seeking some sort of guidance or consultation on their dining program. Perhaps they want to enhance some aspect of their services, or diversify their offerings. Generally, Pedestal Foods is approached with requests to update an institution’s facilities or insight into how a dining program could incorporate new and exciting food trends. In some cases, national brands such as Starbucks and Chick-fil-A can be brought in, but Pedestal Foods also offers refreshing in-house branding concepts as well.
When working with clients, Scherer’s previous experience on the culinary side of the industry has proven quite useful. “I still have that vision, and can see through the eyes of the teams in the field,” he explained. The services that Pedestal Foods provides are extensive, ranging from the hiring and training of employees to the creation of menus. Additional services include development and marketing duties, such as on-campus signage. Also, Pedestal Foods spearheads negotiations with vendors (food distributors and national brand chains) on behalf of the institution. Scherer summed it up, “We do it all.”
The training program that Pedestal Foods utilizes for new employees is very comprehensive. The training begins with webinars for all new employees. Topics include the basic aspects of the company, such as the mission, vision and values. In addition, new employees can expect to be educated on the expectations that Pedestal Foods maintains regarding how they work with clients and customers. The next stage of the program moves to on-site training at the location that the new employees will actually be working. The intensive on-site training portion provides information on the day-to-day operations and the quality and safety protocols.
Once the training program is completed, Pedestal Foods continues to play a very active role in the client’s dining program. There is a very structured and elaborate quality assurance unit that ensures continued compliance with expectations. Each location has a Director of Dining Services that runs the unit. There are regional support teams that oversee their specific districts. In addition, the corporate team has scheduled visits with clients to receive updates firsthand.
Pedestal Foods is also able to offer customized services to their clients. Joe Scherer explained that, “We understand, working in this industry, that no two clients are the same, and because of that, no two dining programs should be the same.” For example, Pedestal Foods has some clients that don’t have any on-site national brands. Conversely, Scherer describes a university that he’d worked with that wished to incorporate some very distinguished national brands that the student’s had requested, such as Chick-fil-A. Pedestal Foods went on to create a relationship with Chick-Fil-A in order to facilitate their customer’s request. There is certainly an echelon of quality that is guaranteed to all clients, but Pedestal Foods is willing and able to fulfill requests that can be very specific in nature.
Continuing with the customization trend, Pedestal Foods has introduced a new concept called WonderWorks to some of their locations. WonderWorks locations are essentially made-to-order stations that allow the diners to completely customize items off of a rotating menu. Scherer predicts that the trend will continue to move in the direction of fast casual dining with a strong emphasis placed upon customizable, made-to-order and fresh foods. Looking down the road, Scherer said, “I think a lot of locally grown products, fresh products, and made-to-order options along with high quality brands are really going to be a part of what we do.”
Based in Nashville, Pedestal Foods primarily serves clients in the Southeast and Midwest. While the focus of the current growth strategy is Southeast expansion, a future in the Northeast is certainly not out of the question.
Pedestal Foods offers a comprehensive, high quality service with a focus on the specific needs of the client. The service is unique in that it offers all-encompassing solutions to dining programs. Pedestal Foods recognizes the importance of customer service and predicting the upcoming trends of the industry. “I think the future for us is to stay on the forefront of innovation like we have been, and understanding the trends in the industry. But the main thing to consider is what our students want.” The future certainly appears bright.
To learn more about Pedestal Foods, visit their website.