WSU Hospitality Kitchen & Lab
Ryan Lockwood, Sales Representative for Bargreen Ellingson's Spokane branch, knows what it takes to excel in the foodservice industry. From humble beginnings working as a bus boy to earning a degree in Hospitality Business Management from Washington State University, and now, as a successful sales representative, Lockwood's in-depth knowledge and experience is what gives him his edge. Pair that with the genuine care he shows for his customers and you have a recipe for success. Read his interview below for advice and expertise and see how he is making positive changes for his customers in Spokane and beyond.
What interested you in becoming a salesperson for Bargreen Ellingson?
The desire to learn another side of the business is a good start, I would say. Bargreen Ellingson has been a part of every place I’ve worked and is synonymous with being the best in the foodservice business. It was a natural fit in my mind.
As for the job itself; finite measures of success, dedicated professionals, freedom to work independently, influence on my income, and a chance to broaden my network of hospitality professionals.
Left to right: Chad Friddle, Tommy Meneses, Keith Hayward, Ryan Lockwood
What has your journey been like up to this point?
My journey began working as a bus boy for the Tacoma Country & Golf Club in my hometown of Lakewood, WA. Throughout high school and college, I worked my way through different front-of-house positions under the mentorship of Josh Bridge and Brett Draper. I then graduated in May of 2010 with a degree in Hospitality Business Management from Washington State University. Shortly after, I was hired on as the Food & Beverage Manager for Rainier Golf and Country.
After spending almost five years in that capacity, I had an important life choice to make. I decided with only a small window left that I would give sales an honest TRY. My Bargreen sales representative at the time - Seattle-based, B.J. McKasy - put in more than a few good words for me, and as a result, I joined Bargreen Ellingson on May 1, 2015. I am very thankful for that.
I spent the next few months developing a new network of friends and colleagues. Most notable were my pledge class pals, Mr. Chad Friddle and Mr. Keith Hayward. Working next to those guys on the front counter in Tacoma felt like summer camp most days; it was something I really needed at the time. On October 5th, 2015 I made my first call as the new Pullman-Moscow, Lewiston-Clarkston “Bargreen guy”. Since then, I’ve been warmly accepted by the 003 team and for whom I have the utmost respect. With On Board fast approaching in November, it is a pleasure making this introduction.
What is it about the foodservice industry that motivates you every day?
From an early age, the hospitality industry has always been a place in which I've felt comfortable with myself and feel as though I belong. To honor that, I’ve always tried to be a person that people can depend on and relate to.
What is a typical day like for you?
I usually start with a few quiet hours in the morning organizing my day and touching base with the factories. From there, I hit the streets at 9:00 am until heavy-prep begins for dinner service. Once home, I catalog my emails, enter non-stock orders and prepare a few quotes. Finally, it’s a long hot shower followed by “me" time on the stoop.
Foundry Kitchen & Cocktails - Pullman, WA
In what ways is Spokane’s food scene growing? What kind of opportunities do you see coming from these changes?
Speaking on behalf of my territory, there seems to have been an explosion in the food scene the last few years. New ideas, concepts, and owners have begun to change the landscape of two college towns located less than 8 miles apart. A big part of this is due to the tremendous growth each campus has seen in subsequent years. In order for this growth to be sustainable, a new level of service and quality products have to be maintained. Our company is widely known for both, so it becomes an opportunity to leverage this over my competition. It is also a once and a lifetime opportunity to give back to a place that has given me so much.
What is a common problem that your customers face? How do you resolve this?
Time, without a doubt, is the biggest challenge in this market. Whether it's lead time, service time, time students are gone, etc., time has a great impact on how people do business. Applying a few lessons that I was taught in the club business has brought success in helping minimize this issue. First, have an answer before the question is asked. Keeping my customers informed shows that I care and helps alleviate some of the frustrations when playing the waiting game. Providing alternate solutions to combat time also gives them ownership. It may require yet another cost evaluation, but it does give them a choice. Finally, using the slow periods to be creative and plan ahead makes time productive in the absence of sales.
In your opinion, what item or equipment is often overlooked but should be in every kitchen?
A sound proof walk-in cooler. In it would simply be a heavy bag and drop box for comment cards. The box would be emptied each night and cards burned. I think ideas like this might just boost morale, decrease breakage, improve communication, and create a buzz amongst neighboring kitchens.
What is the most rewarding customer story you've recently experienced?
A few months back, a line cook approached me about a chef knife for personal use. In conversation, I learned that he had just graduated from WSU with a degree in International Business and Supply Chain Management. Fluent in Spanish, he seemed to be incredibly intelligent with a bright personality - a dangerous combination in this business. His plan was to move to South America and begin his career by helping restaurants operate more efficiently. To get his foot in the door, pay rent and expand his culinary knowledge he figured all he needed was a decent knife. He left a week later, and I can only imagine where that knife has taken him since.
Make a conscious effort to call on your customers the same way you want them to remember you.
P.S. GO COUGS!!!
Contact Ryan Lockwood for your restaurant supply needs at email@example.com.