In this exclusive Q&A series, operators get the chance to get behind-the-scenes and investigate one of our many unique distributor partnerships.
At Henny Penny, we go to market differently than most equipment manufacturers. Through our network of distributor experts, we’re able to provide hands-on-support before, during, and after purchase and installation. Our distributors are in the field everyday solving customer challenges and demonstrating that cooking precision and consistency lead to both quality food and operational savings.
PHT Systems was founded in 1981 by Jim Rimarcik. Once an employee at Henny Penny, Mr. Rimarcik was granted the distribution rights for Minnesota and the Dakotas. In 2013, he was awarded the Southern California territory. Chris Reichert would go on to purchase PHT Systems in December of 2018 and expanded their service territory to Iowa in 2020.
Get to know PHT Systems:
What is your corporate vision and strategy?
Our vision at PHT Systems is to provide solutions to the foodservice industry in the territories we serve and be a leading distributor for the manufacturers we represent. To do that we maintain a customer focus and provide dedicated resources for sales, training, and service, delivering added value to the customer. We strive to diversify and grow, seeking new customers and market opportunities while furthering current customer relationships. We will enhance customer satisfaction and company performance through commitment to building partnerships that last.
We currently have 27 employees: 18 in Minnesota, 8 in California, and 1 in Iowa. Our numbers are down from a year ago and we are trying to hire 5-6 people for positions in Minnesota and California.
What did it mean to you to expand PHT Systems territory to Iowa?
I was very proud that Henny Penny chose PHT Systems as its distributor in the state of Iowa. I felt strongly that we could improve customer service and sales in the territory. That was January 2020 and then two months later Covid hit. Despite that challenge, we have been able to grow the business and strengthen relationships with improved training and service for our three biggest customers: HyVee, Fairway Supermarkets, and Pizza Ranch.
You have been growing a lot, how did you adapt to the foodservice industry so well?
Before PHT Systems, I had experience and an understanding of the product distribution model, which at its core is about relationships and providing additional value. I was also fortunate to have a very knowledgeable and experienced team at PHT, making my transition into the industry very comfortable. We have a large enough team at PHT that I can operate more like a conductor in an orchestra. I don’t need to know how to play all the instruments. My job is to lead the team and make sure that they are all playing the right notes together.
What foodservice sector is your focus on?
In our original Minnesota market, PHT Systems was built on sales to the retail grocery sector. We have very good long-term retail relationships in Minnesota. In contrast, quick service restaurants drive most of our sales in our California market, although we have also built good relationships with several large Hispanic retail grocery chains. In Iowa, we are fairly split between sales to the retail grocery and restaurant sectors.
What % of your business does Henny Penny represent?
Henny Penny represents over 85% of PHT Systems’ equipment sales.
Who are your key customers?
The Cub Foods retail grocery store chain is a key customer of ours in Minnesota. In California, we sell to Jollibee, Vallarta Supermarkets, and an exciting new customer is Dave’s Hot Chicken. In Iowa, we sell to HyVee Supermarket and Pizza Ranch. But we take the attitude that all our customers are “key customers” because the potential long-term revenue streams from supplies, service, and referrals are very important in our business.
One of our favorite pieces of equipment that we sell is the Henny Penny combi oven. It’s so versatile and useful in many different food service settings. We also really appreciate the effortless WaveClean cleaning system.
Aside from the pandemic, what is the biggest challenge for your business?
A big challenge for us is staffing. We’ve had multiple people retire and 5 others left for other positions or moved. We have open positions in sales, training, service, warehouse, and administration. We’ve had a particularly difficult time in Minnesota getting candidates to apply. Our business is up this year, but we have fewer people, which strains the system. However, we have a great team and they have stepped up to make sure we continue to offer our customers excellent customer service and technical support
What is your goal for the rest of the year, how will you move forward?
We’re off to a good start this year with growth in each territory and in each of our three business segments (equipment, breading/seasoning/supplies, and service/parts). My primary goal for the remainder of the year is to fill our open positions, get our newer team members fully up to speed to reduce the demands on the rest of the team, and position ourselves for continued growth next year and into the future. Additionally, this year we began implementing the EOS model of running our business and I want to continue that implementation and rollout. I believe that it will help us stay on track, improve our performance, and culture, and grow. Finally, I want to hit the road and travel to other distributors to see their operations and learn what they are doing to be successful. Henny Penny is fortunate to have a lot of great distributors in its network, and I am excited to learn from them.
To learn more about PHT Systems, visit their website.