It could be said that warewashing represents the final catering equipment frontier for Jeremy Hall.
Having experienced the cooking side as a former MD of Rational, and refrigeration through his connections with Williams and Precision, he has spent the last year getting to know what makes the market tick on the ‘clean’ side of things.
And from now on he will build upon that knowledge from a new vantage point after being named Meiko’s new group sales director, a post that has remained vacant since Nick Falco left the business late last year.
Hall originally assumed the post of business development director when he arrived at Meiko in September 2013 and his remit was tightly defined: build a rapport with the foodservice design consultant community, particularly the newer generation of individuals and companies emerging, and develop the specification of product within the multi-site and chain accounts.
Those responsibilities still remain even though his job title has changed, but he also now faces the added task of leading Meiko’s UK sales force, which totals around 10 members at present.
A slight restructuring of the company’s sales activities has taken place to reflect how important Meiko regards it to get its representatives in front of customers to sell the benefits of its product — though Hall stresses that all business continues to be channelled through dealer partners.
“We are now refocusing our sales team to get them to get product specification with consultants and multi-site operators. One of the main reasons for that is we are a premium brand product and that generally means we are a more expensive product — so we are going to market suggesting that someone buys something more expensive. Of course, you have got to have something to back that up.
“If you look at Meiko’s UK business, we are approximately 80 people in the UK and more than 40 of those are field service engineers. That immediately shows how much we think about product support and the need to look after our product in the field to make sure that it is running in the most efficient way and at the lowest cost for the operator.
"We are a single product manufacturer, so we have got to be good at what we do. Our offer is to give someone, over a period of time, reduced costs, reduced running costs and reduced capital costs over and above others on the market.”
The strength of Meiko’s technical services team is further supported by the ‘No Bills’ guarantee it offers on its GiO technology-based machines, which Hall sees as a major competitive.
So, too, is the ongoing investment in R&D that has led to a throng of world-class products flowing off its conveyor belt, including M-iQ rack and flight machines and, more recently, the new undercounter M-iClean models. On top of that, Meiko’s unique GiO water treatment options create the best water supply available, he says.
One question that Meiko’s loyal UK partners will be keen to get answered is whether Hall’s promotion is likely to signal any shift in distributor strategy. He insists not, stressing that the company runs a tiered dealer programme, believes in rewarding those that put the effort in and encourages progression through doing business together.
“I don’t think there is any need for us to change anything really with respect to our strategy. I think we have just got to push a bit harder and sell the benefits of our product a bit harder rather than just assuming everybody knows them. It is a brand name that has been in the country a number of years, but you can sit on your laurels and say, ‘oh well, everybody knows who we are’.
"There are always new people coming into companies, new buyers, new property directors that might come from outside the catering industry, who don’t know Meiko over anybody else.
“Our strategy is to direct business through our partner distributors, to work with our distributor base, but to try and get our product specified with our sales team, so their focus is on getting in front of the user, the operator, confirming the benefits of our product, showing them the cost savings that can be made and then channelling that business through our distributor partners.”
Meiko has developed one of the most sophisticated distributor frameworks in the catering equipment industry over the last few years but one of Hall’s immediate objectives as he settles into the role will be to learn from partners how it can improve further still.
“I will be spending more time going to see distributor partners and finding out what they like and don’t like about the company. There must be areas where they can see room for improvement, rather than us looking at it from within,” he says.
If he does conquer the final catering equipment frontier, the journey to do so will certainly be an enlightening one.
Revamped site offers more content for distributors
Meiko has just launched a new look website featuring improved photography as well as comprehensive product information, including video demonstrations of its top of the range M-iQ rack and flight dishwashing systems. The company said the new website has been designed to provide a user-friendly experience with improved navigation and functionality.
The site — www.meiko-uk.co.uk — allows distributors to access comprehensive product information including full technical data, case studies and a detailed breakdown of the technologies built into each warewasher, such as the GiO pure rinse water technology, AktivPlus cost-cutting filter system and EWS Energy and Water Saving system.