CFESA’S Outstanding Technician of 2022, Surprise, Surprise, it’s ME!

Pat Finley winner of the 2022 CFESA Service Technician of the Year
By Pat Finley – Master Certified Technician

After my experience with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show I have been looking for my next opportunity to meet and network with some of the top people in the foodservice repair industry. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t on the cards to go to our trade association, CFESA’s annual conference. I was upset but I understood. I am a valuable asset to the Indianapolis location and our customers need to be looked after. I did my best to promote the event on my personal social media channels as well as through my podcast, Commercial Kitchen Chronicles but I was still disappointed not to be attending.

Fast forward to two weeks before the show. I received a call from my branch manager that someone could no longer attend, and I was General Parts first thought as a replacement. I eagerly said I would gladly attend.

I found out the schedule and saw there was an awards ceremony. It was black tie or western formal. I wasn’t renting a tux, but I gladly bought a suit jacket and hat.

I attended every session I could. From CFESA’S Young Professionals Council event on impromptu speaking, to finance, to how to avoid burnout and more. I learned so much from a variety of industry giants. I met so many amazing people, a lot of who I had previously met online and was excited to see them in person. I had the opportunity to network and make some great contacts, hopefully a lot turn into interviews for my podcast.

I was curious as to who’s spot I took, but always got a vague response like “I’m not sure” or ” someone from PT Holdings. Even the staff from CFESA wouldn’t give me a name. It didn’t matter as this was an amazing opportunity and no way, was I not going to take it.

Finally, the event was upon us. I donned my suit jacket and cowboy hat, then headed down to the mixer. I hung out with everyone from General Parts Group, they had done so much for me the last few days, ensuring I was included and having a great time. We took our seats and enjoyed an amazing dinner.

Once dinner was completed, it was awards time. CFESA’s Director of Training, Dan Reese took the stage to present the award for the 2022General Parts Group's Pat Finley with CFESA's Dan Reese Outstanding Technician. He joked that the award used to go to a hot-side tech that would be willing to put on some door gaskets on a cooler. Then went into listing things this person had done. Worked on hot-side equipment, cold-side equipment, HVAC, resolved customer issues, secured new customers, fostered relationships with manufacturers and vendors, and trained new employees. Then he stated that this person was also CFESA’s newest refrigeration trainer. Before he could say my name, I realized it was me, I freaked out. As I went to the stage, I was awe struck. Everyone congratulating me, fist bumps and high fives all around. To be honest, I can’t even remember what I said. I know I mentioned starting this journey 16.5 years ago with a couple people in this very room. I could not put the simplest words together and was holding back tears. I thanked everyone and went back to my table. I was greeted by colleagues and friends.

Back at the table my colleagues finally spilled the beans that I was there for the award. They were all fully aware and had been keeping it a secret the last few days. Even Dan from CFESA was scared he was going to spoil the surprise and tell me. The rest of the night was a whirlwind of meeting people and taking pictures. I made several jokes about, now I know what it would’ve been like to be popular in high school, lol.

This was an amazing experience. It shows that hard work does pay off. Going above and beyond IS noticed. I have not always made the best decisions in my career but coming to General Parts Group is one of them.