Buying group ENSE UK has honoured two prominent retiring catering equipment executives at its latest conference, being held at the Beaumont Estate hotel in Windsor yesterday and today.
During last night’s gala dinner, attended by nearly 200 ENSE member and supplier representatives, the consortium’s MD Bob Adams praised both Court Catering Equipment MD Nick Howe and LLK founder Linda Lewis.
Of Howe, he said: “Nick is a national icon. He was championship rower and world record holder before he even got into the catering equipment industry.”
Adams recalled: “Nick was one of only three distributors that turned up to an organisational meeting we had when we were trying to start ENSE in 2012. There were supposed to be 12 confirmed people!
“But he signed up – he didn’t have a lot of questions but what I didn’t know is that he had previous buying consortium experience. Then Nick started gently guiding me; he was very influential and helped ENSE develop into what we are today: a group of suppliers and distributors aiming for the betterment of everybody.”
Adams presented Howe with a miniature mounted oar with the inscription: ‘The dog that trots about finds the bone’, which is a quote from former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. The plaque also carried the message: ‘Happy retirement! Never stop the commitment! Your friends at ENSE UK’.
Howe commented: “Back in 2012 I sat in that room and I thought, who are these Americans?! But coming away from that meeting I thought it was a no-brainer to join – if it works, it will be great for everybody’s business, and if it doesn’t, you’ve only lost a few quid.
“All these years on, just look where it’s got now. It’s a testament to everybody’s effort – suppliers and distributors, as well as everyone at ENSE, that it has become what it is.
“I’m proud to be associated with it, and Bob has become a great friend of mine.”
Earlier in the night, Adams also honoured LLK founder Lewis. He said: “Linda started her business back in 2006 and redefined the pizza oven market here in the UK.
“LLK was our first female-owned business within ENSE and actually one of our first suppliers. She is a brilliant marketer and even my American business partners feel her company is the best marketed in the UK in this industry.”
Adams concluded: “She’s got a brilliant mind and she’s helped us out so much.”
Lewis was presented with a commemorative pizza paddle with the inscription: ‘Quality is not an act, it’s a habit’, a quote from Aristotle, as well as the same retirement message given to Howe.
Lewis collected the paddle onstage and commented: “I just want to say a big thank you to everybody who supported us over the years. It’s been a really tough time and I really appreciate it, and thank you to Bob for this evening.”
The ENSE Conference is concluding today with the final sessions of round-robin meetings between distributor and supplier members.