We are happy to announce that Holistic Hospitality Solutions has added a new member to the team: Roger Cummings, an industry veteran with 35 years of experience in hospitality. Just like Holistic Hospitality Solutions’ founder Trish Hudson, Roger has worked in a wide variety of roles in the food service industry over the course of his career. Starting out as a dishwasher at The Keg, Roger quickly climbed the hospitality ladder, eventually becoming VP of Sales for Western Canada for Waypoint, a leading national sales and marketing agency for food service and non-food channels.
Passionate, authentic and knowledgeable, Roger is a force to be reckoned with. When he’s not busy consulting, Roger enjoys boating, studying mixology, and experimenting with different cuisines in his kitchen.
Roger is keen to use his extensive industry knowledge to help Holistic Hospitality Solutions launch two new service offerings:
U.S. and International Companies
With Roger joining Holistic Hospitality Solutions, we are excited to begin working with U.S. and international brands that plan to launch or expand their existing food service operations and food brands into Canada. It is often difficult for international companies to understand how to properly market and expand business in Canada, as the demographic can be quite different. We look forward to helping companies identify the best way to grow operations and introduce their products in retail, deli, food service and c-store locations across the country.
We are often approached by entrepreneurs who have already established successful businesses or food products, and are interested in making the leap to the next level. Roger will be offering advisory services to introduce existing business owners to retail, deli, food service and c-stores. We will be working with everyone from food suppliers to companies that already have distribution, in order to help them successfully expand into these landscapes.
In a recent interview with us, Roger shared his experiences and the insights he has gained from 35 years spent in hospitality and food service.
You have worked in hospitality for your entire career! Tell us how you got started and why you are so passionate about this industry.
When I was 14 years old, a classmate and friend called to ask if I was busy. He was working at The Keg and they were short a dishwasher, so he asked if I was interested in the job. I thought, “why not?” and said yes.
As my dad drove me to The Keg, at that moment I knew I was on my way to something so much bigger than the dishwasher role. As soon as I walked into the kitchen and entered the “behind the scenes” area of one of my favourite restaurant chains, I was bitten by the bug. I felt right at home and I knew then and there that I was meant to work in food service and hospitality. I have never looked back.
“I still have the same passion for food service as when I first started 35 years ago. Hospitality lights a fire in my heart and I know this is where I am meant to be and what I should be doing.” – Roger Cummings
How did you transition from working directly in restaurants to consulting one-on-one for different food operations?
As my family grew, the restaurant business never slowed down (and still doesn’t!) I knew I needed to find balance, but I wasn’t prepared to stop working in hospitality. I had another classmate who made the transition from working in restaurants to working in sales, and he suggested I research the food brokerage where he worked.
Just like when I walked into The Keg for the first time, I felt the same comfort and passion as I transitioned to working in a sales role at a food brokerage. In fact, selling food supplies to my friends who I knew in the hospitality industry seemed (almost) too good to be true!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my success in this new role was due to the relationships I had previously established in the industry. There was a consistent sense of familiarity in our conversations and dealings, and I continue to attribute my success today to that. This is why I love what I do as a consultant. I want everyone to feel like a friend in the hospitality industry. I want my clients and customers to know I care about their success as much as my own, and I want them to know we are all in this together.
What inspired you to start offering one-on-one consulting?
Putting customers first has always been my driving force. I learned a lot working in the corporate world, but I believe my purpose lies in taking the customer on a direct journey myself. I enjoy walking alongside my clients and being an active partner in their successes and struggles, which was something I was unable to do in my previous corporate positions.
What are you most excited to teach your clients at Holistic Hospitality Solutions?
Entrepreneurs are idealistic and dreamers — and some might even say risk takers. When you add hospitality to the mix, what you get is a group of passionate people excited about food. Through my years in this industry, I’ve realized many hospitality entrepreneurs lack the ideal type of experience and background to avoid the pitfalls that come with working in food service and retail. I’m excited to share my knowledge and help entrepreneurs create solid business plans so they can reduce stress, decrease costs and succeed.
Which area of hospitality do you focus on?
My specialty is bringing together end-users, such as restaurateurs and distributors, and manufacturers in a unique way. As an independent consultant, I help different types of hospitality operations — from restaurants to delis to retail chains — improve business operations. I also advise small and large food manufacturers on how to enter the food service and retail space in Canada.
What is something you dream of helping your clients with?
When I’m with a client who is an owner or chef of a restaurant, they often have to jump out of the conversation because the kitchen gets slammed and they need to lend a hand. Most people in sales are annoyed when this happens because they view it as a missed sales opportunity.
However, for me, I would love the opportunity to jump right in with them and help them get through the rush. I’d love to work in the kitchen, help push out food, clear tables and even jump back into my first role as a dishwasher! While they might appreciate it, the joy would be all mine. I often miss the crazy and busy moments you experience when working in a restaurant, so it would be a delight to share just a few hours of it again.
Do you have a big vision you’re working towards in the future?
I love consulting and working with my clients. One other thing I have always wanted to do is to partner with other experts and open a Canadian-based food brokerage! A company that would share my passion for this business every day. I know my dad would be proud.
With his impressive experience in hospitality and unparalleled enthusiasm, we are honoured to have Roger as a member of our team. Please join us in welcoming him to Holistic Hospitality Solutions! Feel free to send him a note to say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask him any questions you might have.