Customer Service Shines Bright in the Sunshine State
Similar to a catered event, projects are meticulously planned affairs that are prepared “a la minute,” or to the customer’s order. It can require a smorgasbord of collaborators that crosses datelines and cultures. An example of such an undertaking brought the teams, from Horequip and Leister, together to team up and serve Puff ‘n Stuff Catering with their newest location.
Tampa-based Puff ‘n Stuff Catering started as a small pastry shop in Trinidad in 1971. Since 2003—under the watchful eye of the founders’ son, Warren Dietel—Puff ‘n Stuff Catering has grown from a small pastry shop, to a large, full-service catering company who continues to win over its clients with its attentive service and exceptional cuisine.
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When the leaders at Puff ‘n Stuff made the decision to build a second, state-of-the-art facility in Florida, they searched for a flooring solution that could withstand the every day rigors of a fast paced kitchen environment, a solution worthy of the nationally-recognized catering company. Those in the food service industry understand that commercial kitchen flooring is subjected to many demands day-in and day-out. These environments are often bustling with numerous personnel in relatively confined spaces; furthermore, the flooring is subjected to spills, which can lead to a slippery surface. Therefore, safety is the preeminent factor when determining which material should be used in a kitchen’s design. Commercial kitchen flooring is expected to provide a non-slip surface during the extremes of the catering operation.
Pièce de Résistance
Dietel, seeking answers, attended a conference in Maastricht, Netherlands. It was there when he encountered Mario Peters, a resultant with Horequip Food Service Architecture based in Steenwijk, Netherlands. Horequip has over 20 years of experience in the design and development of turnkey kitchen solutions for catering operations, restaurants, schools and food labs.
Dietel shared his expansion intentions with Peters, who responded by highlighting recent innovations that Horequip had been implementing over the last few years, including in particlular, a welded PVC flooring. It is here, where Puff ‘n Stuff uncovered the “pièce de résistance.”
The decision was made to proceed with Horequip’s proprietary flooring solution. As part of their solution, their resilient flooring material—manufactured using recycled PVC—is described as being an ergonomic solution that provides a non-slip surface while also providing a litany of additional benefits including: the absorption of sounds, like a silencer (Have you ever dropped a pan in your own kitchen?); the tiles are nearly flame retardent; resistant to chemicals, oils, and grease; watertight and waterproof; and are resistant to cracks and fissures.
While breaking from the traditions of old (ceramic tiles or vinyl sheeting), Dietel had searched for a flooring solution that could provide more than just a slip-resistant surface. For all intents and purposes, Dietel happened upon the perfect solution when he discovered Horequip.
The Right Tools at the Right Time
Once the decision was made to pursue the Horequip solution, the flooring tiles were still unavailable in the United States, and the local U.S. flooring contractors/installers who were contacted, did not have the experience, or equipment, required to tackle an operation of this magnitude.
According to Peters, the secret to the quality of the flooring “lies in the correct application and installation.” Since the team at Horequip had previous experience (including a certification from the U.S. Coast Guard for the application of this type of flooring system onboard naval vessels and cruise ships), and had access to the appropriate flooring materials, it was clear to them that it would be necessary to fly-in an installation team from Horequip, in order to install the flooring themselves.
Enter Horequip’s crew foreman, Frans Hamelijnck. Hamelijnck is a gourmet and a true craftsman who is more critical of his own work than a patron who can appreciate the beauty of his work as a whole. Hamelijnck, although a recent addition to the company, came to the project with previous experience using the tools necessary for this installation. However,
his knowledge of the U.S. made it clear to him that his 230/240V Leister flooring equipment, that would normally be used for European projects, would be rendered useless if he wanted to utilize the 110/120V house power available to him and his crew in Tampa.
With a condensed timeline upon him, it was vital that he locate the right equipment for the job. Hamelijnck required reliable and trustworthy 120V equipment that could work with the Horequip resilient flooring system. Drawing from his previous experience with Leister tools,the decision was made to stick with Leister, “Because you can rely on Leister” to get the job done.
The Final Course
When Horequip approached the Chicago-area team at Leister Technologies LLC, and inquired about using a set of tools for the term of the project—because purchasing a 120V set of equipment for the single installation was not feasible—Leister jumped at the opportunity to participate. Dave Nordentoft, marketing manager, worked quickly to ensure that the equipment (TRIAC ST, UNIFLOOR E and GROOVER) was delivered in time for the project’s estimated start date.
Horequip insists that their staff are provided with the best possible training, in order to provide the best possible end result to their customers. Therefore, in September 2015, after receiving an additional 1/2-day of installation training in Germany, Horequip’s six member team arrived in sunny Florida to begin work on what would soon be Puff ‘n Stuff’s newest facility. On the menu, included wall-to-wall installation of the 20” x 20” (500 mm x 500 mm x 6 mm) PVC tiles in the 22,600 ft2 (2,100 m2) facility. Together, the installers were capable of installing and sealing 1,076-1,615 ft2 (100-150m2) of tiles per day. Working 12-hour shifts each day and six-days per week, the team estimated the project would only take three to four weeks (five weeks max) to complete.
Customer Service Shines Bright
Although the installation crew encountered a few obstacles on-site (including an existing concrete base in extremely poor condition that added to the prep time), the team from Leister kept in direct contact with their partner, Horequip, to ensure the equipment was working as intended. When Hamelijnck experienced any problems, Leister product managers conferred with engineers from the material manufacturer. They requested material samples and tested the tiles in the Leister lab in Kaegiswil, Switzerland, in order to adjust the equipment settings appropriately, for use on the soft recycled material in the late summer heat of Central Florida.
After a recommendation from the manufacturer, Leister provided additional blades, which were more suitable for the recycled material than the blades that had come standard with the GROOVER automatic grooving machine, and it allowed the team from Horequip to work with the machine on a lower setting. The GROOVER was used throughout the entire project.
Leister Sales and Service Center: Leister Technologies LLC | Itasca, Ill. United States
Installation Company: Horequip Food Service Architecture | Steenwijk, Netherlands
Material: Recycled PVC Tiles and PVC Welding Rod
Leister Products: GROOVER, UNIFLOOR, TRIAC
Text & Imagery: Daphne Mischel | © Leister Technologies LLC. © Paha_l | Dreamstime.com