What’s Your Connection?

Sometimes you have these “small world” moments as you figure out odd connections between your past and present or work and personal life. Most stories about these kinds of connections I hear today involve social media. This “small world” connection is a bit different than that, you see it involves a Rippe Associates employee, a major educational institution, and an architect.  As Mike Rowe might say, this is the way I heard it . . .

During Shane Cory’s first year the University of Minnesota, he lived in Frontier Hall and was looking for ways to connect to the campus. As an avid participant in student programs in high school, he saw a poster to join the Frontier Community Council and thought he’d give it a try. While on this council Shane worked with the Assistant Residential Advisor, whom then asked if he wanted to be on a panel that gave a student’s perspective during the programming and design of a new residence hall. As an architecture and art student, Shane decided to jump at the offer and thought this could provide valuable and potentially applicable experience.

During the planning of 17th Avenue Residence Hall, Shane was surprised by many things, the soil testing, the thought that went into the landscape design, that they discussed many shades of paint and brick. The most memorable for Shane was when Shawn, from Studio Hive, filled a huge room full of variations of furniture that could go into the residence hall. Chairs, tables, couches and so much more were all there for the entire panel to try out and give opinions on.

17th Avenue Residence Hall

View of the finished salad bar area at 17th Avenue Residence Hall

Another part of the experience he remembers were all the digital walkthroughs that were done because you could visually see what the space would look like. He remembers architects from TKDA and KWK, Brian, Sara & Paul, adjusting the plan based on feedback given during these sessions and seeing the updated versions right then or at the next meeting.

He also gained some experience at Centennial foodservice during his freshman and part of his sophomore year. After being a part of the ground-breaking ceremony, Shane went on to live in Comstock Hall and get involved in the Community Council at Comstock as well. “Living in the dorms you are presented a lot of opportunities you don’t get living off campus,” says Shane.

Later in his college career, Shane was given an assignment in one of his classes to interview people and find out what they like about their job, Shane interviewed Shawn and Brian. Through these interviews and his experience on the student panel, he learned that customer service is extremely important. Being able to listen and react to the customer’s questions, comments and answers are valuable. Nobody wants just the cookie cutter design or equipment package.

After graduating, Shane was looking for his next step. He saw an advertisement for a position that required the ability to utilize Revit. Being the self-confident one that he is, he took it upon himself to start learning Revit. As it turned out, his AutoCAD skills were not as translatable to Revit as he would have liked, but this company called him in for an interview and to take a Revit test! “Oh man, I freaked out during that Revit test! I knew I missed a measurement. I sat in my apartment debating if I should call and fess up to my error or not. I finally called Jan and started telling her what I missed. After I hung up, I convinced myself I had no chance of getting the job.”

But at this company, they thought he was ideal! He knew enough to be dangerous, but not enough that he was too set in his ways. Once here for a few weeks, he heard people talking about the 17th Avenue Residence Hall project and decided to join the conversation. After everyone figured out the “small world” connection, it was an interesting exchange of stories and perspectives. Its things like this that prove to me repeatedly that you don’t know how the connections you are making now, will be useful later. And sometimes, you even get to dig out that groundbreaking hard hat and golden shovel for one more photo op!

Shane & His Golden Shovel

Do you have a small-world connection in your work life?

Our Time Gaining Perspective and Cultivating Relationships

Some foodservice design consultants walk into a custom fabrication shop . . .

. . . no, this is not the beginning of a really great joke, nope, just another day at the office for some members of Team Rippe.

Thanks to Brandon Hansen and his crew at Albers Commercial Kitchen Services, we were welcomed into – or invaded (however you want to look at it) – their shop last week. Members of our team had the opportunity to see custom fabricated pieces, in progress, from projects they had drawn. They also discussed various construction methods, asked questions about our standard details, and gained a better understanding of the fabricator’s job and perspective.

Zach wanted to go to Albers in an effort to “better understand the inner workings of a counter. It’s one thing to see something in 2D on a computer, but it always helps to see it in person.”

Rippe Touring Albers

Mark and Brandon discussing construction while others look at the in-progress cabinets.

You see, occasionally, we must admit that what we thought would work in our heads and on paper, doesn’t necessarily translate into real-life the way we envisioned. Having a positive relationship with Albers, helps us to do our job better. When we do our job better, Brandon, Jason, Tom and the team at Albers are better able to do quotes, produce accurate shop drawings, and build the final piece from our construction documents because they are clear and reliable.

While at the shop, the group was able to take a few measurements and photos of the framework for the counters he draws in Revit. “It was also helpful to understand the restraints and capabilities of their equipment because it will help to think ‘can this be done’ during design.”

Rippe Touring Albers

Serving counter in progress.

Our project managers also value having a good relationship with the fabricators we recommend and work with during the construction administration phase of a project. Getting a phone call with a problem AND potential solution is always preferred. “I’d much rather have a fabricator call and say, ‘Your drawings say you want this, but that doesn’t work because of this site condition. If I do this other thing instead, you will end up with a very similar result. Is that acceptable?’ It doesn’t serve anyone well when they don’t call at all and I see something that is unusable or detrimental to the efficiencies of an end user when I show up at the punchlist.” says Jill

During the visit, Ashley wanted to see the fabrication process and while there was unexpectedly able to “learn more about muffin fans than I ever thought I needed to know.” Which, some people may just get a confused look on their face, while others will be elated that foodservice design consultants even CONSIDER muffin fans!

Rippe Touring Albers

Check out these muffin fans!

And while we like to stay on-task and all business, we did learn that the team at Albers does have a sense of humor!  You see when the inspector came through and said they had to label ALL of their buildings (some of which seen in the picture below) they decided to name one of their buildings the White House!

Rippe Touring Albers

Millwork, Stainless Cabinets . . . where’s the White House?!

Thanks again to the Albers crew – I’m sure we’ll bother you again soon!

~Team Rippe

Confessions Of A Former Operator After An Amazing Conference


Attending the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) Conferences are one of the highlights of my year. The passion that the individuals have for their school and their program is always energetic and this year in Nashville was no exception. Occasionally I even miss being in operations when I’m at these conferences hearing about the amazing accomplishments of individuals, such as the newest Minah Award Winner Rich Neumann, or all of the incredible programs on various campuses. The education committee for each conference takes their job very seriously and I always enjoy the various speakers and edu-tainment which they provide. This year, among other professional speakers, 63 individuals from various institutions presented successful programs, information, and ideas on how to make their program better with their peers! Can you even believe it? 63 people just giving away their secrets as to how they were (and weren’t) successful so others can learn and succeed! The amount of information that these individuals share with one another is just amazing!

The items that stood out for me in the sessions I could attend were:

  • The definition of True Collaboration includes the word “PROCESS”
  • For a prospective student, when all other items about a college are equal (program, opportunity, scholarships, etc.), the DINING program can be the deciding factor!
  • I still totally GEEK out at analyzing numbers
  • Reducing food waste is on the mind of many and figuring out WHERE to start can be difficult
  • Being EPIC does not mean you are perfect
  • Including things like TVs, video game consoles and pool tables in a facility with an unlimited all you care to eat meal plan does not mean that there will be an increase in food cost or waste; it does mean is that student engagement INCREASES dramatically!
  • How we think we sound and what the rest of the world hears can be very DIFFERENT

Thank you to all the hardworking committee members of NACUFS for a great conference! In a world of so much negativity, it was a wonderful reminder that there are people who still want to Band Together – Learn together. Work together. Succeed together.

See y’all soon! – Megan 


Christine Guyott is honored with FER’s 2017 Industry Service Award

In February, Christine Guyott was honored with Foodservice Equipment Reports’ Industry Service Award. On the eve of the ceremony, she spoke about her career and why healthcare will always be her professional passion. Enjoy this FCSI Interview with Michael Jones.

FCSI Interview w CG-TakingCare_2017-2-cropped Read interview

“It takes a long time to learn how to be a consultant. And it’s hard to be the expert in the room until you have the experience behind you.”

Navigating Design-Build and P3 Projects

Terry Pellegrino presents at 2017 NACUFS Midwest Regional


Many campus projects have varying timelines, requirements and methods to get to the end result. We as Foodservice Operators only have one common goal – to end up with spaces that work in locations where students will come with enough support space to run our operation efficiently. The University of Iowa and the University of Kansas were asked to create two very different documents that went out with their RFPs. Both of these documents had great ideas and both of them caused challenges.

This presentation included case studies from projects on these two campuses. Terry and her colleagues shared lessons learned and best practices to enable operators in helping their department create successful projects. We received positive feedback from those who attended the session in that it gave them a better understanding of reporting relationships involved in a construction project and how to make sure you as operators can be involved.NACUFS MW-2017 Design-BuildNACUFS MW-2017 P3 slide

If your campus is planning a renovation or building project whether it be a Public-Private Partnership or a Design-Build, it helps to understand construction terms and phases. Knowing the players and timelines of Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, Construction Management at Risk, etc.

If you would like further information, have any questions or needs we can help you with, please give us a call 952-933-0313.


*Navigating Design-Build and P3 Projects co-presenters were two clients – Jill Irvin, Director of University Dining at the University of Iowa and Alecia Stultz, Assistant Director of Retail Dining at KU Dining Services.