MCS Technical Products has become a stalwart of the UK catering equipment industry, especially when it comes to induction cooking. Here’s what you need to know about the Wiltshire-based importer and distributor still hungry to expand its niche offering after 15 years in business.
10. Energy savings that deliver the wow factor
MCS Technical Products was set up with an emphasis on energy saving equipment and food safety equipment, and it has retained that very strict focus, insists managing director Steve Snow. “When I say energy saving I am not talking about 5% — that would just bore me to be quite honest with you! It is about large energy saving and bringing new opportunities in the way the equipment can be used. Where it has taken something like 23 minutes for chains to heat fajitas in a gas oven or under the grill, we offer a specialist ‘Faheater’ unit that can heat them in 150 seconds. The energy payback on that equipment is eight months, which is serious stuff.”
9 CookTek’s UK partner
MCS is synonymous with the American CookTek brand, which it has forged a long and trusted relationship with over many years. “CookTek is our biggest agency and there are a lot of different sectors that we go into with them,” says Snow. The CookTek range includes heated food delivery systems, buffet holding systems and, of course, induction cooking equipment.
8. Loaning out kit to lure in customers
The amount of induction cooking systems being sold and installed in the market is growing every year, but Snow concedes that convincing potential buyers and users of its merits remains an ongoing challenge. “There is no doubt that induction is more expensive to sell and it is a story, which is one of the reasons why if we get the opportunity we will lend equipment out,” reveals Snow. “We have just done that with two distributors in the north. One is to a CPU and we are going to get a very large order through that distributor and the other is to a restaurant. The chef was challenged with whether it was right to go away from his gas units but the energy savings are so great that a three-phase six burner unit is going to come from that.”
7. From serious flak to serious competition
When MCS first brought induction products to the UK market, it was part of a very exclusive group and Snow remembers taking “serious flak” from suppliers loyal to gas cooking. But all that has changed now, he says: “When I started there were probably three competitors. I just did the list about a month ago and we have now got 30. The main point about our induction, though, is that it is true commercial equipment which is designed for use 24 hours a day, and you can’t say that about all induction equipment.”
6. Success without service is impossible
With more than £1m of induction equipment sold into the market each year, MCS has had to establish a services infrastructure capable of supporting its business. It has a team of seven UK engineers, most of who are self-employed but have been trained at MCS’ Swindon-based HQ. “We support our products with a five-year parts and labour warranty,” reveals Snow. “To reinforce, that is a seven day a week service with no extra charge if we are called out at weekends or bank holidays. You can’t be at the top end of the market and not support your equipment.”
5. Dolphin range solves chafing dish dilemma
One of the more recent additions to MCS’ portfolio is the Dolphin line of chafing dishes, which boast glass lids that use hydraulics to ensure soft closing. Although it marks a slight deviation from MCS’ traditional product range, Snow says the company grew tired of getting service calls only for engineers to arrive on site and discover the problem was due to non-compatible chafing dishes being used: “I thought the best solution was to do it ourselves. Chafing dishes are very much like the pans — it has to be a good pan for induction to work properly.”
4. Educating tomorrow’s induction stars
One priority for MCS is getting in front of chefs and aspiring chefs. It is involved in this year’s Skills Show in Birmingham and last year it supported the London-based World Skills event, where it supplied 58 twin units and six single units for the demo kitchens. “We tend to support chef competitions, not just to grow our brand of induction but to grow the awareness of induction because it is surprising how many people still don’t understand it, even though it has been about a long time,” comments Snow.
3. Going Platinum with distributors
While it is inevitable that work involving large multinational customers such as McDonald’s is carried out directly, MCS makes the majority of its sales through the distribution network, and has just become a Platinum partner of the Catering Equipment Distributors Association for the first time. “CEDA only allow 10 Platinum members, so we are quite pleased to be part of that,” says Snow. “We want to support and build closer relationships with the distributor market and the CEDA distributors do tend to be the largest in the market.”
2. Patented vac packer promises magic margins
One particular commercial product that MCS is aiming to push more heavily moving forward is the Magic Vac Jumbo vacuum packer, which as well as being able to vacuum seal food boasts a unique patented system that can marinate various quantities of protein in just 12 minutes. “We have got several new products this year and this is one I really want to see starting to move better than it has. It has got some real unique things about it that nobody else is doing,” says Snow.
1. Breaking into new markets but keeping the niche focus
MCS is aiming to build on its ties with CEDA, FCSI and Craft Guild of Chefs to strengthen its presence in market areas where it is weak at the moment, such as the hospital sector. As well as doing more specification work in that sector, Snow is also keen to expand the company’s non-induction business without diluting the sales that it does generate from induction. “We’re trying to even out the spread of the business, but the products we’ve got are not mainstream. Every product we have taken has been unknown in this country and we have grown the brand,” he says.