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Dealers, consultants and chefs from the UK recently got their first taste of catering equipment specialist Hatco’s new multimillion dollar training facility — and they weren’t disappointed.

Delegates visited the manufacturer’s plant in Wisconsin, USA as part of a trip organised by Gamble Foodservice Solutions to help customers understand its product ranges.

Gamble’s sales and marketing director, Andy Piggin, took three dealers to the latest in a series of five-day training schools held by Hatco each year in Sturgeon Bay.

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The trio — CCE boss Ray Costelloe, Sprint Group project manager Tony Arnold and Bunzl Lockhart Catering Equipment CAD designer and project manager Garry Allen — were among 30 delegates who had flown in from around the world to sample the facility.

The new cutting edge culinary training kitchen is part of a site that also includes a product bistro full of demo equipment in action.

Culminating in a ‘graduation banquet’ at the home of the eight-time American football world champions, the Green Bay Packers, the ‘hands-on’ training focused on the Ovention Matchbox and its precision impingement feature over two days, followed by three days exploring the benefits of the full Hatco range. The group then travelled onto Chicago to look at new restaurant concepts before embarking on the long journey home.

Sprint’s Tony Arnold said that the trip was particularly useful as an information-gathering exercise given the opportunity to drill into the finer details of the product.

“The main reason I went on the trip was for education, and as a hands-on guy I learnt more from a few days in the factory than I ever would going through a huge manual.

“I knew about the quality of the kit before I agreed to go, but what I wasn’t expecting was the calibre of the staff — an excellent bunch across the board. I would thoroughly recommend this to anybody in our field, and cannot stress enough how valuable the experience was.”

He said his favourite piece of kit was the Ovention oven. “The great thing was that everybody got the chance to programme one, cook in one and taste the outcome, while not being put under the microscope for making a mistake. In fact, it’s encouraged so that you can see the consequences.”

CCE’s Ray Costelloe was also full of praise for the excursion. He prefers to avoid corporate jollies or “dull” overseas factory tours these days, but feels there is a place for a trip that isn’t going to waste time and offers the chance to gain knowledge of innovative products while getting to know other like-minded people.

He said: “Gamble Foodservice Solutions is a company that brings you products that are outside the norm, always full of innovation and second to none in their service and support for their products. The energy that is needed to be away from your family while looking after their clients to the standard that has become their expected norm is only surpassed by the passion and knowledge they show for their products.”

Gamble’s Andy Piggin said he was pleased that the latest batch of dealers to experience Hatco’s facilities had found the trip worthwhile.

“The training school, incorporating ‘Ovention University’ and ‘Hatco University’, is quite unique in that it is very hands-on and relaxed, unlike some training put on by manufacturers, and very different to a meeting with a product list. The new facility is something else, with all the technology imaginable. Aside from this, it is a great networking opportunity with first-class hospitality.”

Gamble takes a group of professionals to the training school four times a year, with Hatco training more than 300 people each year.

Other UK catering equipment professionals to have visited the Hatco site this summer include James Woolnough from Catershop, Simon Hamnett from Francis Catering Equipment and Jason Wade from the Airedale Group.

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Andrew Seymour

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