Rewriting How An Equipment & Supply Firm Succeeds

Waring Commercial Chef Jon Ashton Living Proof
(L-R) Waring Head of Sales North America Marco Bottero, Chef Jon Ashton, and Waring Vice President and General Manager Dan DeBari. (Photo by Alison Margo)

Waring Commercial Continues Re-Engineering Of Brand With Dynamic Video Series

Going on 80 years strong, Waring Commercial continues to be a leading solutions specialist in the blend, prep and cook categories, striving to provide innovative, customized equipment to fulfill all of the industry’s needs.

Proud to offer continuously expanding collections of superior professional products, the company is now giving back to the industry with their creative and personal video series “Living Proof with Jon Ashton.” Waring Commercial teamed up with celebrity chef Jon Ashton to inspire the professional chef community. The series of short videos detail stories about real-world chefs who come from all walks of life to overcome a variety of professional and personal challenges.

Total Food Service caught up with Jon Ashton, Waring’s Vice President and General Manager Dan DeBari and Head of Sales North America Marco Bottero to talk about the new web series and about Waring’s vision for 2019 and beyond.

Chef Jon, can you tell us how you got involved and how it all came together?

Jon: We’ll I’m a chef by trade and have been working in the industry since I was 16. I attended culinary school and was in an apprenticeship for four years. Over the years, I got to see what was behind the scenes of the chef community. I’ve been blessed to do all the big shows, working with the Food Network and others. It enabled me to see the disparity of what is showcased on television and what was really behind the curtain. When you see the truth it is truly eye opening. It is simply so difficult to see and profile the truth. The amount of opiate and alcohol addiction within this industry is truly frightening.

When I first met with Dan DeBari, I thought he was a wonderful human being. When we first started talking about working together, Dan said he wanted to give back to the community that’s given so much to Waring. This wasn’t about product placement. These are true stories and this was before Anthony Bourdain taking his own life. It is about chefs overcoming the struggles that life brings when you have this incredible focus and talent that can engulf you if you let it.  Some chefs turn to drugs or alcohol. For others, these challenges manifest themselves in many other ways.

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Dan: Jon was the one that was able to bring that vision to life for sure. He has the eye, the personality and the talent to capture these real life struggles. We wanted to put something together that would be meaningful and inspirational.  You just feel the kindness and sincerity coming from Jon when you first meet him and he is able to make all the subjects of these videos comfortable enough to really open themselves up.  There are so many interesting and inspirational stories out there. That’s what we wanted to showcase.

Did these people think of Waring as a retail line they knew from back in their homes back in the day?

WaringDan: There was that notion for sure. About a decade ago, we decided to take a bit of a grassroots approach to educate the community on the reliability and durability and breadth of the Waring product line.  This is a brand with an amazing heritage that didn’t have much name recognition in the foodservice market.  Many chefs did not affiliate the Waring name with the commercial kitchen but, I would stroll through the back of the house with them and notice a Waring Commercial immersion blender or a spice grinder or blender.  It was time to expose and legitimize this brand with the talented men and women who relied on our product to keep their businesses running smoothly.

What brought you guys together?

Jon: I do work for a program that promotes healthy eating and exercise for the America’s youths and Waring is a lead sponsor.

Dan: It’s the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program.  We sponsor and donate to this program annually. They do amazing things to empower the children of our nation to set up this program in their schools.  Waring attends the Student Ambassador Summit every year and works with the team at CustomEd and the National Dairy Council to put together a cooking competition with the amazingly impressive group of students that attend each year.  This is where I first became aware of Chef Jon Ashton

Jon: I spent a lot of time with Dan and he’s truly an amazing man. We were both doing things that were meaningful for the industry. When I first met Dan, he was someone who wanted to change the industry and not just be a part of it. The goal here is to create a blueprint of work that can be seen by these next generations of chefs, to give them the roadmap to making healthier choices when it comes to their tremendously busy lives. And that’s the most beautiful thing about “Living Proof” the video series.

(L-R) Waring Head of Sales North America Marco Bottero, Chef Jon Ashton, and Waring Vice President and General Manager Dan DeBari. (Photo by Alison Margo)

How did you get these people to open up and make them feel comfortable?

Jon: You can do a lot of research on a human being just by going on social media. But then when you sit down with someone and look them in the eye, you can feel someone’s energy in life. Whether they’re honest or not honest. And I always sit down and I say that this is not about us, but about the next generation. I don’t want these chefs to be seen as stars. I want them to be seen as true souls and I tell them I won’t let them down as I’m telling their story. These shows are about positivity and about teaching people that you can grow. And I know this will sound deep, but we are all brothers and sisters on this planet and it’s important that we look after each other.

Dan: Like I said, Jon has the vision and a real passion for this and wanted to leave behind something that would inspire and influence the industry, which was great. You know, once Jon was on board and we were working towards something meaningful, I took a long, hard look at the Waring brand in general and I knew change had to be made internally as well.  And that’s where Marco came in. I had been talking to Marco for a couple of years, he was extremely successful over at the Electrolux brand and I just knew he was the right fit for our business. We had spoken about our goals and were in agreement with the direction of the Waring brand, the new strategies we wanted to put forth and so on. We wanted to develop a new corporate identity.

Well you know, based on all of our discussions, Marco was able to put that vision into place. He understood what was needed and he really had the experience and understanding of who we were in the past, and what we now wanted to become. So it was a lot of Marco’s ideas that really brought us to another level. Identifying ourselves as Solutions Specialists, focusing our efforts on developing product with our core competencies and making sure we were the experts in these fields.  Waring has always prided ourselves as having the best after sales service in the business but, even that area needed to be part of the evolution.  The ultimate goal is taking care of the people that are taking care of us.

So Marco, what attracted you to the opportunity?

Marco: I had been talking to Dan for a while and he was always saying how he really wanted to take the brand to the next level. He was very excited to put together a team that he could work with. And I had exposure to the Waring brand in the industry and also knew that the brand had a great heritage. Once I joined the company I just took a look and I listened very closely to our customer base, and I took a look at what some of the comments were from our largest dealers. I just realized we have to get out of our own way. I mean we are our own best-kept secret. We were making a fantastic product and have such a huge loyal customer base, but we needed a way to be able to package ourselves so that the dealer and the end-user customer base could see our potential more clearly. And that kind of led itself to defining the strategy of being a specialist within three core categories neatly packaging our product and being a specialist within Blend, Prep and Cook. That helped to shed the light onto what our core values were which were evident.  We were already doing them and they were already part of the DNA in our products. And that was Innovation, Reliability and Value-added solutions.

Those are core values. And that led us to our mission statement: a specialist with those very strong three pillars. We then were able to define our mission statement as a global leader providing innovative reliable and value-driven equipment to help make our customers’ lives easier and their business more profitable. And then with this kind of vision, we could give ourselves a very unique and direct roadmap of where we are going. It gave us the laser sharp focus as to where to put our R&D money. It gave us a sharper focus as to which products to evolve that would grow with us to being a specialist within those categories. Also, what products to invest in and what new categories to bring to market. We’re still evolving we still have a lot of room to grow and we’re going to continue to surprise and delight the industry.

So what’s in store for the next two episodes of “Living Proof”?

Jon: The next one is going to prove that the American dream is still alive and well. So we’re going to have someone who came to the country to become a well-known chef on television and now has many restaurants. So it’s a lovely episode.

What’s the next step for an operator or dealer that wants more information on the Waring brand?

Marco: I think they should absolutely go online and see the message the brand communicated through the new look and feel. Our website’s very unique approach focuses on the end-user with specific product education, recipes, blogs and an ROI calculator that shows how quickly you can improve your overall efficiencies by investing in Waring.

Dan: There’s a lot of amazing collateral for our products on the website along with the recently launched “Living Proof with Jon Ashton” series.  These resources will continue to evolve so we can ensure that our customers will have a one-stop source for all of their Waring needs, worldwide.

To watch Waring’s exclusive web series, Living Proof with Jon Ashton, go here.

To learn more about Waring Commercial, visit their website