Thirty-five years ago, in 1983, The Wasserstrom Company was named Dealer of the Year by Foodservice Equipment Specialist magazine (that would later evolve into the current Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine). We thought it was fitting to revisit this milestone as we hit the quarter century mark.
Many of the faces shown in the article have retired, moved on or passed away. But we are still very fortunate to have both Rodney and Alan Wasserstrom providing their guidance to the company today.
The Epic Review
The write up in the magazine was extensive. It covered multiple aspects of the Wasserstrom business as it existed in 1983. Although the company has evolved quite a bit since then, the basic business fundamentals that would continue to fuel the company’s growth were already in place at that time.
In announcing the selection, then editor Robert Ashton stated:
“Usually when we do a story on a dealership, we keep it to four or five pages. We focus on one or two aspects of the company, those aspects we believe to be critical to the company’s success and most interesting to others in the industry. The story on this year’s Dealer of the Year, The Wasserstrom Company, runs 19 pages. Frankly, a company such as Wasserstrom deserves, even demands, the space. It is large, diversified and complex. It is engaged in nearly every aspect of the business from designing and installing kitchens and interiors in hundreds of units a year for national clients to supplying a ladle to a coffee shop in its hometown of Columbus, Ohio. And Wasserstrom does just about everything it does well. There are many reasons why but the essential ones are the commitment of the company’s senior officers to planning, to people skills, and to constantly reinvesting it the organization’s future. These are not magic formulas but the result of intelligence, diligence and hard
In the 19 pages that followed, much detail was presented about the various divisions, their management personnel, and associates. The Wasserstrom story was probably best summed up by this statement:
“What factors underlie its leading, some might even say dominant, position within its chosen market niche? The reasons are complex. Certainly the foresight of the Wasserstrom family is crucial. Few other similar companies have so clearly identified the market opportunities and then pursued them so aggressively, creatively and with such determination. At every step in its history, the company has demonstrated its willingness to invest in facilities, systems and most importantly, people. But perhaps most significantly, all the associates at Wasserstrom understand that they are engaged in a service business and that providing that service is a team effort. The entire management structure from (then) President Rodney Wasserstrom on down, constantly play down their own contributions and praises the efforts of others in the company. Finally, Wasserstrom has long understood that the time-consuming, frustrating, nitty-gritty aspects of fulfillment-purchasing-warehousing-getting the product to the customer on time, are the key to retaining accounts and attracting new ones.”
2018 Postscript: Wasserstrom would go on to win this award twice more (in 2002 & 2014), making the company the first three-time winner of Dealer of the Year. In both of these years, the same themes expressed above were quoted as reasons why Wasserstrom was so honored.