With a family background in the food industry and sales, it only seemed natural for Bianca Anaya, territory sales in Oahu, to explore working in the same field. Her passion for food, dining out, and meeting interesting people sparked her interest in the industry but it's the everyday challenges, rewards, and Ohana that keep her motivated. Read Anaya's interview, below, as she reflects on her journey and accomplishments, and her reasons for attending the Hawaii Foodservice Show in October.
Left to right: Outrigger Canoe Club, Director of Food and Beverage - Dave Brown, Territory Sales, Bianca Anaya,Outrigger Canoe Club - Executive Chef Dan Bower
What interested you in becoming a salesperson for Bargreen Ellingson?
I started with Bargreen Ellingson a little over eight years ago as a receptionist in Portland. From there, I moved into front counter sales for four years where I learned about the industry until a territory position opened. After two years of territory sales, Tim Irey, VP of Sales and Marketing, called me on a Tuesday afternoon to ask if I was interested in moving to Hawaii for territory sales. I still have the two and half-minute message saved in my voice mail and listen to it when I reflect on my journey. Sometimes it’s crazy to think that I went from living in a cold, rainy city like Portland to living on the beach in Honolulu.
What are some of the challenges and rewards associated with territory sales?
In many ways, you’re given complete autonomy to drive your business as you see fit. Of course, there are both pros and cons to being in that position. You have to keep yourself structured with both immediate and long-term goals, and even though you’re running your own territory, I’ve learned that it is the team around you that keeps you motivated in achieving those goals. The great thing about Bargreen, especially in Hawaii, is the extraordinary group of territory sales people I get to work with every day. At first, I used to think the Aloha Spirit was a "Hawaiian-ism" that didn’t mean anything, but the group in Hawaii has been nothing short of amazing in welcoming me into their Ohana. We are like brothers and sisters! Sometimes we bicker and annoy each other but at the end of the day, I know each person has my back and will support me with anything.
How do sales in Hawaii differ from sales on the mainland? What are some of the challenges and advantages of being a salesperson in Oahu?
One of the biggest differences from working on the mainland is Hawaii’s geographical location. Many of the factories we partner with are based out of the mid-west and east coast region. Managing logistics has become a major part of my day-to-day task. On the mainland, the process of moving products across land is simpler than moving products across an ocean. The biggest advantage is the emerging food scene in Oahu. Chefs and restaurant owners are willing to explore new trends, experiment with different products, and ultimately take risks. The wonderful thing about Hawaii is that the community wants people to succeed and will support their dreams, whatever that might be. These two factors create an exciting dynamic.
How do you think your customers will benefit from attending the Hawaii Foodservice Show?
This is my second year attending the show in Hawaii, and I am truly blown away by the number of factories and people that come to present their products, solutions, and ideas. It’s so much more than vendors pushing their products and agenda - they are there to help customers find answers to what they’re looking for, and there are factories there that have you covered from the front-of-the-house to the back-of-the-house. Also, since NAFEM is right around the corner, I’ve heard that many of the factories will show products that will not be released until February. It’s an awesome opportunity for Hawaii to get a first look at new trends in the market.
What do you think is an item that is often overlooked but should be in every kitchen?
That’s tough to say. I work with a lot of clients that have efficiency down to a science, so it seems like nothing is ever over-looked. I think if I were a chef, one gadget or tool I couldn’t live without would be a solid, tasting spoon. Most of the chefs I work with either have a spoon in their jacket pocket or a huddle of mismatched spoons in a bain marie on the counter. The spoon is the vehicle to your guest's heart, and a chef’s time and creativity lie within the first bite. You have to know that what you are serving is perfection.
Describe a common problem that your customers face. How do you resolve this?
Again, being isolated on a rock at least 2000 miles away from the mainland is difficult. I think sometimes it takes longer for word to travel down to Hawaii. While some customers lean towards traditional and standard presentation, most are looking for the next best thing to take what they offer to the next level. They want to know what trends are coming out of popular food centers like New York, Chicago, LA, Miami and even my hometown, Portland. The great thing about Bargreen is that we are constantly exposed to new trends, innovations, and ideas. Bargreen promotes a culture of learning and broadening our scope, and for that reason, our customers like to work with us. They know that we can offer anything that they dream up.
What is the most rewarding customer story you've recently experienced?
I’ve had a lot of successful sales this year that I’m very grateful for! Truthfully, it's hard to name just one. I will say a lot of my successful sales have been with the aid of my reps that have helped me make a vision become a reality. For that, I will say thank you to Ruby Mukuch, Davin Aki, Peter Pao, David Nelson, and the rest of the Hawaii reps. It’s refreshing to know that even though we are thousands of miles away, they care about us and growing our business! I’m really looking forward to 2017 as we have a lot of exciting projects in the hopper!
Learn to keep a work/life balance. Often times, it's easy to get swept up in the fast pace restaurant world. The culinary life is a very romantic world that can easily suck you in and wrap you up. It’s important to keep boundaries and make sure you spend time with friends and family. This job can be very rewarding so it's important to stop, reflect and enjoy the life you have!
Bianca Anaya is located at 2234 Hoonee Place Honolulu HI, 96819. Contact her at b.anaya