Forging a New Career Path in the Foodservice Equipment Service Industry

General Parts Group Foodservice Equipment Technician with her CFESA Certification

Forging a New Career Path in the Foodservice Equipment Service Industry –
A Story of the Transition from Office to Field Service Technician in Just 4 Months

By Aaron Thompson – Branch Manager, Fort Wayne

This is a story of transition, personal growth, and teamwork! In my management career spanning over 20 years, I can say this will be one of my most memorable times. One of the most important things I think any good manager must do is to listen to their team and realize that everyone is unique in their thoughts and goals. As an example of this, during one of our branch team meetings I mentioned that we were able to bring on a new Foodservice Equipment Service Technician. A day or two later I was in the warehouse talking to Amanda our Service Support Specialist, she asked me if I thought it would be possible for her to become a Service Technician. I said, of course because I think if you want something badly enough you will strive to make it happen. I had talked with Amanda previously about some of the things she enjoyed such as taking metalsmithing classes and how she really enjoyed working with her hands. I remembered this, and my initial thought was she obviously had abilities beyond her current role. This together with a couple of years’ experience working with parts and our customers, at which she had done a great job, it was easy for me to imagine she would be successful working with our Foodservice Equipment Service clients. She mentioned she had been thinking about this for some time, but was apprehensive about asking, so I asked Amanda if she would like me to investigate how a transition like this might work. She agreed and was excited at the thought that maybe something could happen.

Beginning the Foodservice Equipment Service Technician Journey
I reached out to my then Regional Manager Ed Eisen and proposed the idea, and he was very receptive to it, and we talked about coming up with a plan on how we could help her transition to the role. I spent a couple days putting together some thoughts and ideas and came up with the idea to offer Amanda a 6-month trial. The trial was designed to allow Amanda to continue in her existing role but give her the opportunity two days a week to go out and train in the field with some of our other Technicians. On top of this I asked Amanda to show commitment on her side by picking up online manufacturer training outside of work. To say she was thrilled is an understatement! So, with all of this in place we set June 6th, 2022, as her first day out with Shane one of our technicians.

General Parts Group Service Technician with Pizza OvenDuring the trial period I talked with Amanda frequently to listen to her feedback which helped me pick up on some things that she felt she needed extra help with. We talked about things she was learning in the field as well as training she was doing on her own. One thing she mentioned more than once was she was really working on her electrical skillset to better understand it. With this information I went ahead and issued her an electrical meter so that having her own to use in training and on the job would really help her progress in this area. Helping Amanda with tools was a team effort, our technicians were giving her some of their extra tools and a tool bag so that she could start putting together her own kit, she also mentioned she “borrowed” some from her Fiancée. I also went and raided our discarded tools bin and gathered those up too!

To further help I lent Amanda our CFESA study books to help her study in the areas of electrical and gas. I also got her a couple of work shirts so she wouldn’t have to wear her own and so that she would look like a technician which boosted her confidence and enthusiasm.

CFSA Technician Training
Over the next couple of months, I was getting great feedback from the technicians she was working with, and she was feeling more confident about herself and because of her progress I was already working on moving up her transition date. In early October we learned of a last-minute opportunity to have Amanda take the CFESA new technician training in South Carolina. This happened on Friday and the class started on Monday and it happened when I was out on PTO but thanks to our Regional Manager Jean Hodge, she made all the arrangements so that Amanda could go. When she came back from the training, she was explaining all that she had learned and at that point it was obvious she was ready to go out on her own, the smile in the picture below says it all.

General Parts Group employee with CFESA certificationI sent the appropriate paperwork to approve moving Amanda into the technician position and received approval to make October 31st, 2022, her first day as an official General Parts Group Field Service Technician! It’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could be able to manage working in the warehouse, and in the field, and training at home after work!

I have all the confidence that she will be successful in her new role and look forward to seeing her progress. One final thing is I am proud to say I work for General Parts Group because without their support and approval this would not have happened. A special huge thank you to the Fort Wayne Branch for all your support and for cheering on Team Amanda. A note to anyone who has been thinking about making a move like this, my advice is to ask, it might be the next step to something great.