As Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies prepares to move from its longtime headquarters in Toledo to a newly renovated facility in Perrysburg Township, Jameel Burkett is eager to put his foot back on the gas.
“We had to make this investment because we wanted to grow. We didn’t make this investment to stay-steady state,” company President Mr. Burkett said during a recent tour of the firm’s new facility. “We definitely have lofty goals, and we want to see the company move itself forward.”
Founded in 1977, Burkett sells new and refurbished kitchen equipment and supplies to restaurants across the country. The company, which reports annual revenues in excess of $20 million, has made multiple appearances on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing firms in America, but its growth trajectory has been limited recently by the difficulties of its 89-year-old headquarters.
Mr. Burkett said the company has dialed back its growth efforts over the last couple of years because of concerns sales would get ahead of infrastructure. The longstanding Council Street location offers plenty of space, but with a single elevator serving four floors of segmented warehouse space and a small shipping and receiving dock, bottlenecks are common.
“As our business has been growing, we found ourselves at times challenged with being as efficient as we can because of the multiple floors,” Mr. Burkett said.
The company agreed last fall to sell the property to Amerco, the parent company of U-Haul, for $2.2 million. In turn, Burkett bought a 95,000-square-foot facility on Glenwood Road in Perrysburg Township for $2 million. Officials expect to spend $1.5 million on renovations.
Mr. Burkett said he wanted to stay in Toledo, and he worked with the city to find a suitable building for the right price but was unable to. Much of Toledo’s inventory is old, presenting the same challenges Burkett had on Council Street.
The company has moved its warehouse stock and shipping and receiving operations to the new facility. Construction crews are working on installing offices, a service area, and a 11,000-square-foot showroom. That space, about twice the size of what the company has now, will be more Home Depot than Pottery Barn, Mr. Burkett said.
“We don’t go for the glamour. The target customer, they think glamour in a restaurant-supply place, and they think they’re paying for it,” he joked. “It’s going to be something nice and clean to be proud of, but not something overdone.”
Officials hope to complete the move in March or April.
When Burkett first opened its doors, the focus was to supply Toledo’s busy restaurant scene with refurbished equipment. As the company grew, it expanded into new equipment. Today, Burkett stocks about 2,000 different items, offering pretty much anything someone could need for a commercial kitchen.
Guiding a tour through the expansive warehouse, Mr. Burkett pointed out three specially painted Italian-racing-red Hobart mixers destined for Marco’s Pizza. The refurbished machines look brand new but are probably 25 to 30 years old.
Used equipment makes up less than 10 percent of their total sales, but officials say it’s an important part of their offering.
“It’s not a huge part of the business, but it’s our differentiator,” he said. “It gives us the ability to be able to help a client who’s looking to save some money.”
About half the company’s business now comes from Internet sales, which span the country. Mr. Burkett wants to expand that coast-to-coast reach both through Internet sales and with national, multi-location accounts.
Within three years, the company hopes to have second regional sales office, and within five years, a second distribution facility, possibly on the west coast.
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