Last night saw CESA’s annual light equipment awards handed out at Whittlebury Hall Hotel in Towcester, Northamptonshire, as part of the association’s Light Equipment & Tableware Forum.
The first award of the evening was the Distributor Cup, which recognises the distributor who has done the most to support the sales of light equipment and tableware over the past year. Members of the CESA Light Equipment & Tableware Group voted on this to arrive at a winner, taking into account increased percentage growth, quality of business in smallwares and utensils, and breadth of product range offered, among other factors.
Alliance Disposables triumphed in this category for the second year in succession, beating Brakes Catering Equipment and Lockhart Catering Equipment into runners-up spots.
Next up was the Sales Professional of the Year honour, which lauds the salesperson who has contributed most to the sales of utensils and smallwares over the last 12 months, including significant one off sales or contract wins, or adding value to their distributor’s business through helping end users identify key relevant products.
This year, Mike Deakin, KCCJ’s light equipment manager, beat Brakes Catering Equipment’s Antony Chaplain to win £500 and a free place on the Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) course.
One of Deakin’s customers commented: “I have always found Mike to be committed and diligent. He has a wealth of knowledge and always shows energy and drive to provide us with a first class service and looking at what you may need next.
“He is extremely personable; his communication is fantastic and he strives to understand our culture and expectations in order to deliver a comprehensive and professional package. He has superb customer service skills, he listens and is reliable in delivering our requirements to a high standard, within deadlines and on budget, and we are always satisfied with the end result.”
Furthermore, someone from KCCJ’s biggest end user, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, added: “Mike started on this project a little over a year ago. He has faced many challenges working on what continues to be a time sensitive, extremely ambitious sizeable project.
“He has always listened and understood what is required, even at times when we were unsure ourselves. Mike’s knowledge and guidance has been key to our success, everything he has done for us is truly appreciated.
The ceremony concluded with Patrick Gardner, MD of T&G Woodware, winning this year’s CESA Donald Bird Award, which honours an individual who has shown dedication and passion to the industry and gone the ‘extra mile’. Each year the recipient is nominated by the CESA Light Equipment & Tableware Group, based on who epitomises what well-respected Catering Utensils Association founder Donald Bird stood for within the industry.
And Gardner has certainly demonstrated sector knowledge and business acumen, having sold Scandinavian products since 1963 and subsequently forming what was then called Theobald & Gardner in 1975. Woodware was and is the core product, but success evolved with adding others – in particular, salt and pepper mills and ceramics.
Gardner has overseen his company exporting to 53 countries, and travelled many miles to find the best factories to produce designs that met T&G’s quality and reliability criteria.
The firm has reached 42 years in business with Gardner still at the helm, and he claims this is because of reliability of product, delivery and after sales service.
Upon receiving the trophy, Gardner said: “This is out of the blue – it’s fantastic. I’m getting the credit but really this is due to my great time, our design, sales, purchasing and logistics departments. This is a really nice industry to work in, where people are interested in quality and function.”
The CESA Light Equipment & Tableware Forum will conclude today, with groups of distributors visiting various light equipment supplier stands in a round-robin format.