Chip Kent

Today's Author is Chip Kent, MSc, SPHR, CDM, CFPP, FMP. He is the Thought Leader for our Partner Service Initiative. Prior to Clark, Chip spent over 35 years managing & leading organizations within the Hospitality Industry including Restaurants, Business, Health Care and Retirement Communities.

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Glance Around - Uncover the Not-So-Secret, Secrets of Organizational Success!

As I prepared to author this article, my mind kept coming back to how important it is that the organizations we work for continue to be successful.  It doesn't matter if we are in the hospitality business, health care or senior living industry, selling cars, or mowing lawns.  What are those things that we as individuals can do to help our organizations and, yes, ourselves to be successful?

Out of dozens of important attributes required for successful business results it comes down to the same thing that has been important since the '80's.


Develop a culture that provides a great customer experience consistently throughout the entire organization.

Yes, you're right, there is nothing new about this.  You may be thinking we already do this we provide this!

But developing and maintaining that culture is easier said than done because success lies within knowing and managing the perception that each customer has during every contact or "Moment of Truth" with you or your organization.  Many organizations talk-the-talk but they find it difficult to walk-the-talk.  Why?  Perceptions are hard to measure and seldom similar from customer to customer.

Two reasons why we can improve in the area of providing a great customer experience consistently:

  1. Studies continue to show that organizational leaders view the quality of the services they are providing much higher than their customers do when surveyed!  Understanding your customers perceptions is critical to business success. Discover that gap and close it!
  2. My second reason stems from what I have experienced over the last few months while visiting restaurants, retirement communities, and taking my five-year-old grandson on vacation. I have to say my customer experience has been a disappointment more than pleasure! I can appreciate how difficult it can be to offer a great experience under difficult situations or trying to fulfill different customer needs when the customers span three different generations and have different expectations.  I'm sorry but I paid a lot of money for our customer experience and I didn't pay for it to be a BAD experience!  Call me self-centered but guess what?  My customer expects the same and shouldn't have to care about my problems when I'm delivering an experience they are paying me for.

So the moral of my experience: Realize that it's easier to see a bad or great experience when you are the customer and not the boss. 

My Humble Advice:

Agree that the single most important thing for organizational success is to provide a great customer experience consistently throughout the entire organization.  

Manage your own pocket of quality and be a disciple of your successful methods.  Be a personal role model.  As once said, "If it's to be, it's up to me!"


Three strategies for achieving a great customer experience based on my personal knowledge and adaptation from three organizations that are icons of customer experiences:

  1. Provide your customers with all of their expressed wishes and do it with a performance attitude (like you were on stage).  If you can't provide those wishes because they don't work within your business model say so and provide an alternative solution even if it is going somewhere else. You are only as good as the weakest link in the experience chain.
  2. Provide your customers with their unexpressed wishes. Glance around and determine what experiences exceeded your expectations.  How can you adapt that?  How can you take the best experiences and "plus it"?  Another way is to provide services that are unexpected, unnecessary, and, yes, maybe undeserved.  Also, ask your key stakeholders their opinions for some out-of-box ideas for innovation.  These will be the experiences that set you apart from the competition.  These experiences create loyal customers!  These experiences create business success!
  3. Develop your tactics and measure results by understanding your customer's perception of the experience they have with your organization.  Always look at things through the eyes of the customer-not as the leader/manager.  If it's not important to the customer it's not important.

Glance around - always be learning.  You're never off duty the answers can be found in your day-to-day experiences!


Ryan Tiburtini

During his five years with Clark, Ryan has progressed into project development after spending time in project engineering and project management. Having graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a degree in Accounting & Business Management, Ryan began his career as an accountant with Ernst & Young before joining the Clark team. With Clark, Ryan focuses on the senior living and healthcare industries while providing quality capital budget planning for numerous operations.

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Getting to know high speed ovens

You may have heard some of the bold promises equipment manufacturers have been making about these high speed ovens, but they can't be possible, right?  Cooking three times faster than conventional ovens?  Five times faster?  Fifteen times faster?  Sounds crazy, but this could be the new wave of speed cuisine.  In this article we will further explain the new technologies associated with the high speed oven as well as dive into some pros and cons.  Now let's find out if your operation would benefit from this type of speed-cooking technology.

High speed ovens manufactured by Turbochef, Merrychef, and Amana innovatively combine microwave technology with convection technology to create faster cooking times with the ability to brown and crisp individual recipes.  Manufacturers have added a boost to the package through a form of focused convection. This package is called impingement cooking and radiant heat, which further speeds the cooking process.  As a result of this technology an 8oz filet mignon seared to a juicy medium will take just three minutes verse 12 minutes on a char broiler or in a standard convection oven.  Additionally, in just two minutes, cookies with a crisp exterior and moist and chewy interior are ready to be served.  And the list doesn't end there.  Pizza, hamburgers, chicken breast, French fries, Panini's, salmon, and bread can all be cooked with a standard cook time ranging from just 30 seconds to three minutes through this countertop oven.

With the small footprint of most models, you are able to position these ovens practically anywhere you would position a standard microwave (however there are exceptions based on the model selected).  Possibly the greatest feature is that this type of oven does not require a hood!  That's right, no hood!  Most models come with a UL-approved catalytic converter making them truly ventless ovens.  The attributes may seem endless however, as in all equipment, there are some pitfalls. Now let's take a look at some pros and cons:


  • Food is cooked up to 15 times faster increasing production
  • Increased moisture retention due to concurrent cooking
  • Programmable for standard menu items, further reducing time spent on the cooking process
  • Requires less skilled labor as a result of programmability
  • More consistent menu items and food can be cooked to order
  • No hood necessary
  • No special cookware necessary


  • Small oven cavities limit the amount of food able to be cooked at once
  • Exterior of the oven vs the interior of the cooking cavity may create a space issue on your counter
  • Multiple ovens may be necessary for high usage facilities
  • Different models do different things - understand the differences and select carefully

The combination of qualities in high speed ovens makes them especially convenient for operations that want an expanded menu of items that move at relatively low volume.  Some potentially good candidates are coffee shops, snack shops, bistros, retail grab-and-go counters, food kiosks, country kitchens, skilled care kitchens for select menus, and convenience stores.  Basically, anyplace that doesn't have access to a full service kitchen and wants to supply their customers with high quality, cooked to order food without installing a hood would be a candidate for this type of oven.  Another contender would be a kitchen that just wants additional variety and flexibility to enhance their line of equipment.

High speed ovens are capable of toasting, poaching, baking, roasting, grilling and steaming while limited only by their size.  These accelerated cooking ovens produce high quality results for most food products.  Research the best fit for you, comparing the various manufacturers, the range of options that are offered by the various models, understand the different sizes to choose from both internally and externally, and, as mentioned earlier, review the variety of technologies versus the menu items that you want to produce to make sure the products are compatible and fit in the model of the oven you have selected.  

So for those of you wanting to speed up your production and/or offer a broader range of menu items or would like an oven and don't want to install a hood, a good, high speed oven may just be the answer!  If in doubt, email and one of our equipment specialists will assist you in reviewing the options.

David Hoy

David Hoy is interning with Clark this summer in the equipment division. To research this article, David worked with a number of Clark’s experienced designers and project managers. In the fall, he will continue working towards his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State University.

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Stainless Steel Fabrication 101

Why Stainless?

Stainless steel has long been the industry standard for material in commercial food service equipment. Compared to lesser metals, stainless steel has a much higher tolerance for corrosion, rust, and staining in the presence of water and grease. Its ability to be easily cleaned and sanitized in addition to its overall strength and malleability make it the number one choice for material in basically everything in your kitchen!

Not all Stainless is Created Equal

There are two main factors that come into play when judging the quality of stainless steel: series and gauge. The series type refers to the nickel content present in the alloy. 300 and 400 series are the two main grades used in food equipment.




  • Lower nickel content, less magnetic
  • Suited for more corrosive environments
  • Ideal for damp or humid locations like ware-washing areas


  • Higher nickel content, more magnetic
  • More economical
  • Great forming ability and very malleable
  • Good for less humid & light-use areas









The second main factor to consider is gauge type which basically describes the thickness of the metal. Selecting the appropriate gauge really depends on the circumstances and application of the piece of equipment. 




  • Least Expensive
  • Lighter and thinner
  • Great for sides and panels that are in low traffic areas


  • Higher level of durability compared to 18 gauge
  • Most commonly used and very affordable for its quality
  • Great for all-around kitchen use


  • Highest durability used in food service
  • More expensive, but highly resistant to bending or denting
  • Great for heavy use areas such as prep or butcher tables that will experience heavy chopping and pounding











Deciding Fit and Finish

Now that you've learned about the series and gauge of stainless steel, there are still a few decisions that need to be made. One of these decisions is selecting one of three typical countertop edge profiles. Square edges allow tables to be tightly placed next to each other. Rounded edges are very easy to wipe down and clean. And finally, marine edges that contain a raised drip edge around the perimeter of the work surface are a good choice when you have messy liquids that you want to keep from dripping off the work surface. Other considerations should be made for the necessity of back or side splashes, under shelves, work drawers or table mounted over shelves and pot racks.

Caring for your Investment:

  • Clean with a mild detergent and warm water solution first
  • Always dry thoroughly to eliminate water spots and streaking. Then finish with the application of a stainless steel polish.
  • For hard-to-clean areas - speak to a professional about recommending an appropriate acid based cleaner that will not harm your stainless. While many acids can do great damage to stainless, certain forms in the proper concentration work as an excellent cleaning agent.
  • NEVER... Use abrasives, steel wool, or solvents containing chlorine or harmful acids! These will scratch and discolor your stainless. When acid washing your quarry tile, grout or cement floor, make sure all stainless items are covered as even the fumes from these high powered chemicals can damage stainless.

So as you can see, there is a lot that goes into stainless steel fabrication. Being educated on the options available to you and speaking with a professional will ensure that you are happy with your investment and that it will give you many years of service!

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