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  • How did you get into the Food service industy

     Olivero updated 6 days, 4 hours ago 4 Members · 8 Posts
  • fixbear

    November 22, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    How did you get into food service industry

    Most all of us in the food service repair industry started somewhere else.  I’ve been wondering how many common factors there are between us.

    I’ll start by giving a short biography from myself.  I was born and raised on a small farm in northern New York. I worked with both my grandparents during home times.  My  Paternal grandparents had 4 to 6 jersey cows, a pair of Belgium horses,  30 to 50 chickens,  and 4 to 6 pigs at one time.  We hand milked, used a dump rake and hay-loader.  Horse drawn reaper, mower, corn harvester and mow hook.  Milk was placed in 100 lb. cans and chilled with well water in a troth.  I turned many a pound of butter, helped can chickens, and slaughtered hogs.  They lived about 1 mile from my parents home and only spoke a very limited amount of English. My mom peddled there eggs and butter every Thursday to family’s about 25 miles southeast of us and picked up rye bread and 4 bags of stale bread for the pigs.  They were self sustaining with a big garden and a lot of canning.  Yes, we had a outhouse and 2 hand pumps for water. One in the milk house for the troth. The 2 wood/coal cooking stoves. The one in the kitchen had a water tank for hot water.  The one in the woodshed was used for canning and chicken cleaning. I still remember my maternal grandfather coming in with a steam traction engine and thrashing machine to harvest the oats and wheat. 

    Now my maternal grandparents started farming, and got the motoring bug. My grandfather was a chaefer for Alco’s president and then his secretary. He then started the first bus line for Alco before starting his own in New York.  As government regulation started to get strict and the war became a difficult time to buy buses and fuel he sold out and started a water well business. From the time I was 12 years old I had to spend time with him drilling, pump installs and repair, and driving dump truck  (wooden blocks on the pedals) or operating a tractor backhoe. We sharpened our own bits, Blasted wells and rocks, poured our own bearings. Even made maple bearings for the derrick top head-stock.  This provided me a lot of mechanical and hydraulic background. Let alone internal combustion and electrical.  And there is always the time we blew up a house and damaged 6 others. Hate hitting gas lines. 

    My mom and her mother also had bus contracts for the school system. 12 passenger van for hill country. My dad had worked for my maternal grandfather as a bus mechanic before becoming a fixer at Mohawk carpet mill. He eventually was the foreman of the experimental lab where he designed the first loom using a burlap backing and latex for todays carpet.  Though he never went past 8th grade, he could see machinery in his minds eye and just make a machine to accomplish a job. He wasn’t a good welder like my uncle, but he could pound, shape file, drill and bolt together anything. We always had a side project in the yard to make something for somebody.  Whether is was a corn duster, a rolling mill, a dump wagon, or something for my grandfathers well business.  All while raising beef and farming 500 acres.

    Now, with all this mechanical backround I was destined to be a mechanic.  Even though Medicine and animal husbandry fascinated me.  I started working a a gas station part time as a sophomore in high school.  I also took a temp position for 2 weeks overhead welding at the army depot nights to install a stock rail system in my senior year.  Good welders for overhead are a rarity.  Molten metal and gravity don’t seem to like each other.  I also worked part time at 2 speed shop’s and raced. Upon graduation I worked for 3 car dealers, a tractor dealer, And a photographic processing plant. Owned by my great aunt. I mixed a lot of chemicals, stripped a lot of film, and adjusted the color balance of the printers twice a day..  I also maintained the water filtration system and the lighting in the inspection rooms.  Working in total darkness one learns some fantastic hand skills and first hand knowledge of what static electricity and the need for humidity control. People hate spark burns in there negatives. 

    I then got my draft notice and physical, and aptitude test. I had a very high testing score so was able to wheel and deal with the services for schools and branch. I elected for the Navy.  But instead of photography I went to Great Lakes for Boot camp (16 weeks then) propulsion engineering, Engineman “A” school, Whidbey Island for SERE, Camp Pendelton for special weapons,  and Coronado for Swift boat training.  Then Siagon to start a interesting life of moving around to solve problems for the “Needs of the navy” After a tour in country, 2 field promotions, and a commendation metal I got orders for a pre-comm detail for LPH-11 in Philadelphia. The ship had a pair of special Fairbanks generators that had not been used before. So back to school I go even though I didn’t have enough time left on my enlistment for the navy to get a return on it. After 8 weeks at Fairbanks i reported on board as “A”division petty officer with 26 men working for me. This is where I started working on kitchen equipment and refers. Also elevators, winches, steering gear and auxiliary boats. Oh, I forgot to mention, right back to Viet-Nam. I had 26 refrigeration compressors on board and 2 200 ton chillers. And a hospital. When in a war zone it’s amazing how many PM’s get deferred.  I would never give up the knowledge learned in that circumstance.

    After separation I went into diesel repair for a GMC dealer for a year, then a leasing company for another year. Tried sales for a hardware wholesaler and then into construction. In 1973 I started my own field repair company.  After 6 years I wound up with a shop and got involved with machine tools. And fabrication.  I built and repaired all kinds of equipment. The variation is what kept my mind involved and continuous learning. In 1989 I got bit by a tick in Braintree MA. IT knocked me down for 3.5 years. I could no longer work the long hours of construction or lift the weight I used to.  My local refrigeration tech was retiring and asked if I wanted his work. The Montreal protocol was just coming in and I was looking to stay local. Obviously once one gets a good recommendation form a customer, word travels fast The trick was to do systems so they were reliable yet you get repair work later. Once a customer has a major breakdown I would look at the system and revamp it to not fail. We see large extremes of ambient temp change here.  From 102F to -40F One has to really understand what is happening in a system not only at the present, but what will happen in mid winter or summer.  It took a lot of studying and field repairs to find all the answers. And just about the time you think your done, another problem presents. Guess that’s why I love it. In the early 2000’s one of my refrigeration customers asked me to look a a dishwasher.  The Chemical company had just installed a new system and it wouldn’t run. A quick look at the schematic and a trace of what they did and I was hooked on more than the cold side.  Then it was a Vulcan snorkel, A few fryers, Hatfield holding cases, Slicers, prep machines, Mixers, and of coarse Microwaves.  The fiends one meet’s along the way in this industry is amazing. I only wish I had joined it earlier than I did.

  • Tommy

    December 2, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    I was Machinist before starting into the food tech career been doing about three years only hot side guy love what I do so far it’s been a good job 

    • fixbear

      December 2, 2019 at 8:52 pm

      That’s funny. I worked in machine tool repair.  Mostly Teledyne-Gurley DRO’s and Bridgeport mills. But I also installed the first Mori-Sieke turning center in this area.


    December 3, 2019 at 4:49 am

    I started out when I was twenty four working at Sears as a  pm technician   . 

    Worked on residential appliances  for 15 years. I switched when I was thirtyfive and started working with Hobart. 

    • fixbear

      December 3, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Quite a difference from domestic to commercial. Which do you like better?

  • Olivero

    December 3, 2019 at 9:44 am

    I just kind of ended up doing hot side, started when I was 17, working on equipment and then learning from there, now I’m 23 and I’ve learned more than I thought. 

    Got into welding, fabrication work, then plumbing work, copper piping, gas, then electrical work, then got involved in the cold side, learned refrigeration, got my EPA license, etc.

    Now i’m here, 5 or 6 years of this work and I still love it, it’s challenging.

    I love everything but deep friers, deep friers should be banned.

    • fixbear

      December 3, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      What I always liked was that every day was different.  Deep fryers and Chinese restaurant roof ventilators. Often 3 inches of grease on the roof.

      • Olivero

        December 3, 2019 at 4:29 pm

        Very true,

        Spend most of my day today rebuilding an R2N and printing parts for what was missing or broken. New bearings in the motor, new power cord, took everything out and had the casing get cleaned out by someone other than me, lol.

        It smelled something awful when I opened it, really, really horrific.

        But now it’s better, printing the last parts for it and back together it goes.

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