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Interested in Tundra’s culture, employees or history? This is our story. This is what we believe in & how we work – it’s all fun here!

15 Year Veteran Employee, Alonzo Clemons

15 Year Veteran Employee, Alonzo Clemons One of our veteran employees has a gift that has inspired people worldwide.  His name is Alonzo Clemons and he has Savant Syndrome – “a rare, but spectacular, condition in which persons with various developmental disabilities have astonishing islands of ability or brilliance that stand in stark, markedly incongruous, contrast to the handicap (Treffert, n.d.).”

When Alonzo was three years old he had an accident that left him with a disability that harbored his mental capacity, leaving him with an IQ of 40.  It took a while for Alonzo to learn basic things that we all take for granite, like tying your shoes or being able to communicate your needs, but what Alonzo was brilliant at was being able to form a lump of clay into the most amazing masterpieces imaginable.  This gift came almost immediately after his accident, and Alonzo has been perfecting his gift ever since.

At first, Alonzo started his sculptures from looking at photography, which gave them a very 2-dimensional look.  But when Alonzo’s work really came to life was when he started visiting different animal habitats like the Denver Zoo, the National Western Stock Show, and local farms. His sculptures began to be more realistic and precise.

Such works of art, like Alonzo’s first life-sized sculpture called “Three Frolicking Foals,” can take most skilled artists months to create, but Alonzo created this sculpture in as little as 15 days.  He has an amazing photographic memory where he can simply look at what he wants to recreate, and bring his sculpture to life later on without staring at the object or using a photo; in fact, he can even sculpt in the dark.  His works of art have sold for as much as $45,000!

15 Year Veteran Employee, Alonzo Clemons

What’s Alonzo Up to Now?

Today, Alonzo lives by himself, and stays very active in the Boulder community.  He maintains his part-time job here at Tundra – where he’s been working with us for over 15 years – while also working at the YMCA doing ground maintenance.  He also visits the local schools to teach children about his gift and just how easy it is to sculpt (easy for him of course).  He also enjoys power lifting in the Special Olympics, and has been on numerous television shows, including Discovery Channel’s Brain and Intelligence.

Learn more about Alonzo on his website.

Reference

Treffert, Dr. D. (n.d.). About Savant Syndrome. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from: http://alonzoclemons.com/about-savant-syndrome/.

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Restaurant Designs From Jeff Katz & The Tundra Design Group

Restaurant Designs From Jeff Katz & The Tundra Design GroupThe Tundra Design Group is a talented team that provides design services to owners, operators, developers, and design professionals involved in restaurant, hotel and resort food service facilities worldwide.

With restaurants including Frasca, Mountain Standard Vail, The Kitchen and Hapa Sushi on his resume, Jeff Katz has perfected the art and science of restaurant design. I recently sat down Katz, Vice President of Tundra Design Service, to learn the latest from him on his teams recent design projects.

Katz and his team designed, planned and completed kitchen and restaurant designs across the country, their impressive list includes:

  • Northside Coffee & Kitchen is nestled in the famous Vail Valley. Northside specializes in breakfast and flavorsome coffees not to mention they offer the only donuts in town! Northside offers a full bar and extended menu in the evenings.
  • Mountain Standard Vail is a fresh, pioneering restaurant. This rustic and relaxed tavern aims to set a new standard in the Vail valley by using an ancient form of cooking via the most primal cooking methods: over an open and live wood fire.
  • 5 Star Burgers combines gourmet burgers with some of the best wines and beers. With locations in New Mexico, Colorado and Missouri, USA Today recently rated 5 Star Burgers as one of the best burger restaurants in the country.
  • Pizzeria Locale is a contemporary pizzeria inspired by traditional pizzerias of Naples, Italy. Located on the trendy Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, Colorado, Pizzeria Locale is quickly becoming a foodie favorite.
  • Amante Coffee is the exclusive North American importer of Ghigo family coffee, the most popular coffee and espresso in Northern Italy. Based in Boulder, Colorado Amante is committed to bringing a piece of ‘old world’ charm to its customers. Amante offers a sleek yet comfortable ambiance.
  • Hapa Sushi has four convenient locations in the Denver Metro area where you can always satisfy your sushi cravings. Hapa’s menu is based on traditional Japanese cooking fundamentals, which are then amplified, muted, or mixed with influences from many different styles of cooking until they are something completely new.
  • The Kitchen is a community based restaurant where they are committed to environmentally-friendly practices and working with local farmers and ranchers.
  • Ace Restaurant is a Ping-Pong hall, fostering social gatherings, playfulness and healthy competition. Ace serves Asian inspired dishes that encourage sharing, drinking and hanging out.
  • Frasca Food & Wine is a neighborhood restaurant that is inspired by the cuisine and culture of Friuli, Italy. Frasca has continuously been ranked No. 1 by 5280’s Top 25 Restaurants to dine in the Denver Metro area.

Jeff Katz and his team choose projects that inspire, imagine and create tantalizing dining experiences. Whether they are creating a local neighborhood burger restaurant or designing a five-star fine dining experience, once you visit a Katz restaurant you not only see the difference, you can feel it.

 

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Tundra Culture: An Interview with Ryan Lewis, President

Tundra Culture: An Interview with Ryan Lewis, PresidentHere at Tundra we have team members that have been here since the company started in 1993, and team members that have worked in almost every department.  It’s a place that breathes fun and expression; in fact, it’s written in the values.  But these are only a few attributes that can be considered part of our culture.

I recently sat down with Ryan Lewis, President of Tundra, to interview him on the culture here at Tundra (including hard to answer questions that may have made him squirm).

1.    If you could describe Tundra’s culture in three words, what would you say?

Team Members. Experience. Connectedness.

2.    If you were going to give public tours of Tundra, what stops would you make?

Generally I’ll show them the photo board, I’ll show them the values on the walls, and the kitchen – it’s kind of social in there.  I think just standing in the showroom and experiencing the open nature of our office space is nice to show too, like how the big glass windows connect to outside and to the warehouse.  I think it’s important to show the way we all communicate and how we care for balance like with the Turtle room where people can rest and relax if they want to.

In general, I don’t think it comes down to a specific location though – it’s an energy.  Locations are attributes, but that doesn’t create culture. At the end of the day, culture is the look on people’s faces, the smiles, the comfort.  My goal is for people to come to work and have them be extensions of themselves, be able to express themselves.

3.    If the local paper were going to run a four-page article on Tundra’s culture, what would be impossible not to include?

Our values are absolutely imperative because that’s the framework.  I want people to express themselves fully, but it has to be within that set of values – that’s what ties everything together.  And our mission statement – it’s about our customers, and our success depends on theirs.  That’s critical too.  Our Culture Crew – we have a formalized group of people that focus on our team members experience.  All of these would be important.

4.    What’s the best part about working in this environment that someone wouldn’t be able to see from just a walk around the office?

It’s what creates that environment and the focused effort into it – the team members and customers experiences.  It can’t just be about the bottom line.  We care about making sure people are engaged, and if they aren’t then why?

We allow people to (within reasonable guidelines of course) work the way they want to work, dress the way they like, bring their dogs to the office.  It’s important to have a certain level of flexibility.

I really like the Megaphone, and we read every single one of those team member suggestions in our Culture Crew meetings.  We’ve gotten a lot of great ideas from that to help move the culture forward.

I try to make it to all of the Culture Crew meetings.  I tried to suggest that maybe I shouldn’t be in them so that it was more organic, but even as the members of the crew change, they always tell me that they feel that it’s important for me to be there, so I am.  For the Megaphone it’s anonymous, I want people to feel like they can be authentic and talk about opportunities here at Tundra.  I know it’s uncomfortable to talk about some things and make suggestions, and this gives people an outlet to still be able to communicate, and most peoples responses are very sincere and honest.

We can always do a better job though, there isn’t a finish line.

5.    What are the most common complaints team members make about Tundra’s culture?

I hear that the company is too focused on the bottom line or making money.  And I also hear that team members want more money and more bonuses.  It’s usually focused around compensation and finances.  You know, we are a for profit business, so sometimes its sort of low-hanging fruit when the team members are upset about something: not everyone is into the flexibility we have here, like dogs at work.  It’s one of those things that you’ll never make everyone happy in any one category.

But that being said, I can’t reiterate enough that we focus on every single team member; making sure we read each and every one of those suggestions at those culture meetings and listening to every team member.  When you have 130 people you’re going to have unreasonable suggestions from time to time, but I always try to go into matters with eyes and ears wide open.

6.    How would you describe your ideal workplace environment?

For people to come in here with an understanding of the values of how we operate and the mission that we’re trying to accomplish.

I would hope that our team members feel that they are fully an extension of themselves here – that they are living up to their fullest possibility everyday.  That they are fully engaged, feel safe and are able to communicate effectively between peers, customers, management and vendors.  Good communication is key.

Really the values are the vision of the culture – express yourself, have fun.

7.    What does it take for someone to be successful here?

I think people need to be authentic.  You know, people that come in here and start looking for a role, looking to be told what to do, given specific agendas and expect a routine wouldn’t really fit in that well here.  We need thinkers, people that challenge the status quo and aren’t afraid to express their thoughts.

8.    How are team members recognized for going above and beyond?

We line them up every Friday afternoon and throw water balloons at them.  No, I’m kidding.

I think this is another area that there’s definitely no finish line – we can always do a better job here.

But we do have the Star Card, where peers and managers can acknowledge a team member.  And at the end of the month there’s gifts given out for people that get these cards turned in.  I like to think it’s an iterative process.  It’s the culture saying, “Hey, nice job.”  This is more informal in that sense, but we do have a bonus program too that’s based on company and individual performance.

9.    Given that you adjust for each team member (because each person is different), what would you say your preferred management style is?

Controlled chaos.  No (laughing).

You know, I’ve asked people that about me, because I don’t necessarily, consciously try to follow a certain way, but I do like to look at the end goal.  Let me know if anything gets in your way.  Let me know if I can support you, or if I can accelerate your pace.  Let me know if you need anything, but otherwise, use your peers, use the company, use the resources you have.  I’m not going to manage how you get there.  Stay within the values, understand your end point, and let me know how I can support you or move hurdles.

10.    What do you love best about the culture here?

The community; I think the people that get the most out of our culture come here to work among friends, to be part of a community.  It’s more than a job.

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How Does Tundra Decide to Bring in New Products?

How Does Tundra Decide to Bring in New Products?Cara Schlarb, Director of Product Marketing at Tundra, is the go-to-person for vendor relationships and product standards. She’s responsible for ensuring that the more than 60,000 products we sell are the best products available for our customers. And, of course, she’s also responsible for staying atop of industry trends so that Tundra continues to offer the best new products available.

So, this made me wonder, how do we decide to bring in new product lines? And for that answer, I had to ask the person in charge, Cara.

How does Tundra decide to bring a new product line in?

Like most industries, new products are constantly being introduced to the market. I follow several factors when considering offering a new product line.

The good, better, best philosophy is how I navigate through new products. I want to make sure that every product that comes in is needed by our customers. Yes, we are in the business of selling restaurant supplies, parts and equipment, but to do this well we have to ensure we offer a product regardless of price point. Following the good, better, best science allows us to thoughtfully add products to categories.

How do you feel we successfully accomplish this?

Good partnerships and good value are vital. Tundra will only work with brands that support their product lines; this means that the ‘after purchase’ support needs to be top-notch. For example, if a customer purchases a $5,000 oven they can trust the brand to follow-through with its warranty. Good value is also significant – we’ve all heard the economy is starting to recover, but as a nation we’re still looking for value. Tundra strives to offer products that improve the customers’ business. Fair pricing and quick lead times play into good value as well. Improving efficiency and quality are the top attributes when sourcing new products.

Any secret weapons on discovering the best products?

You have to always be listening – customer feedback is huge. In an age where customers voice their opinions and concerns on social media outlets, you have to be there to listen to that. It’s important for our product team to see this feedback and make decisions based on what customers are saying, not just industry news.

However, we also have to research industry trends for innovation and uniqueness of new products. The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and Tundra has to make sure we offer the products the end user needs to stay up with customer requests.

And finally, my team and I attend industry trade shows to search for new products that could offer something different, unique, helpful and efficient for our customers.

Even with Tundra’s stringent guidelines, we offer an amazing selection of products for restaurant operations. We strive to offer the best of the best at every price point.

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The Dog Days of Tundra

When you visit Tundra Restaurant Supply, you’ll often see one of our four-legged friends roaming the hallways, or lounging on their doggie bed. And we think that being able to bring our dogs to work is a great perk here, so we had one of our biggest friends (Royal, an Irish Wolfhound that stands well over 6 feet tall when standing on his hind legs) give you a grand tour of Tundra – which is really more of a “pet me, please” tour.

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Meet Royal, or Royal’s point of view anyway. Aside from lounging, eating and shedding, Royal likes to do his daily round of meet-and-greet at Tundra. We think he helps us build productivity, and overall staff camaraderie. HR thinks Royal, and his other K9 friends, help make Tundra a “Pooch-topia.”

And studies have shown that dog-friendly workplaces make us all happier. According to American Pet Products, about 1.4 million owners took their dogs to work last year – that’s a lot of happy people!

So, we asked Royal what he thought about being so prolific to our work environment. And we think he summed it up quite well…

“Got rubbed and petted… my favorite!”

Thank you Royal for helping us bring more to the table!

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Do You Have a Special Request?

“Bringing OVER 60,000 Commercial Restaurant Supplies to the Table” is an accomplishment Tundra would like to yell from the mountain tops! Our assortment of products includes everything from restaurant equipment and parts, to kitchen supplies and disposables.  And with all of these products – from over 600 manufacturers – it’s hard to believe Tundra doesn’t carry everything the food service industry has to offer.

Do You Have a Special Request?

Well, I have news for you… you can special order just about anything you gosh darn please for your restaurant!

Custom Size Products: Tundra has developed unique relationships with a variety of custom fabricators that can manufacture just about anything you’re looking for. The best part is that in some cases, custom products will save you money by avoiding manufacturer branding. Here are the types of products you can custom order:

  • Gaskets
  • Cutting Boards
  • Wire Shelving
  • Walk-in Doors
  • Equipment Legs
  • Drain Covers
  • Hood Filters

Just make sure you use care for the measurements and specifications when ordering because custom products are non-refundable.

Do You Have a Special Request?

Equipment Requests: Tundra can track down and competitively price just about any piece of restaurant equipment. Whether you’re looking for a stylish counter top griddle, jumbo walk-in cooler, trendy espresso machine or an entire restaurant remodel, let us know your needs and we can provide you with a detailed quote. You can lease-to-own on orders from $1,000 – $150,000! Oh, and did I mention the Low Price Guarantee?

Non-Stock Replacement Parts: Can’t find what you need on the eTundra site? Easy peasy lemon squeezy, Tundra can special order just about anything.  OEM parts, specialty shop supplies, equipment needs, you name it – we get it.

Special requests are welcomed by our team. We have an entire department dedicated to product sourcing to satisfy customer needs. Seriously, try to stump us… call 1.888.388.6372 or contact us here today!

 

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NAFEM Scavenger Hunt

What is NAFEM

The NAFEM Show (North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers) in Orlando, Florida is the largest food service equipment and supplies solutions trade show in the country with over 500 exhibitors on display – that’s 760,000 square feet of exhibits!  Dealers and distributors, end users, food service manufacturers, consultants, designers, specialists, service technicians and business services will all be in attendance to see what’s hot and what’s not, what’s new and what’s old, and what’s to come in the food service industry.

Tundra has approximately 10 Tundraroos (i.e. Representatives) traveling from Colorado to Florida to explore NAFEM’s offerings, chat with new and existing vendors, seek new products and consume industry knowledge.

NAFEM Scavenger Hunt

Game Details

To liven things up, I’ve created a scavenger hunt for those who plan on attending the NAFEM trade show. The first  to complete the scavenger hunt will receive a 2 week promotion on Tundra’s website!

The web promotion will include:

  • 705 x 80 homepage banner (website generates 190,000 monthly visits on average)
  • 1 Dedicated email to 12,000+ contacts
  • 1 Blog post (blog generates 14,000 monthly visits on average)
  • Social media shout out through Twitter (1,000+ followers) & Facebook (2,500+ fans)

Here’s What You Have to do

To be a contestant in our NAFEM scavenger hunt you are required to take a series of photos with our Tundraroos and tweet them with hash tag #TundraNAFEM included.

Pick any 5 of the following photos to tweet. Take a picture with a Tundraroo ______________.

The winner will be announced on February 11th, 2013 following the NAFEM show on Tundra’s twitter page (@eTundra).

Good luck, have fun and tweet away NAFEM attendees! Can’t wait to see your amazing Twitpics with Tundra’s Tundraroos!

 

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Wing Obsession in America

Super Bowl is around the corner, and we here at Tundra are getting ready to enjoy the game, but more importantly, all the food! We have plenty of cooks here armed with tongs and their favorite wing sauces just begging to get started in the kitchen; in fact, I think we’ve heard so much about wings lately, that it sparked our interest to see just how many people consume wings during game time. But, we had no idea that the number was 1.23 billion wings (and that’s just during Super Bowl), and that 4 out of 5 US adults consume them on a yearly basis!

Yet, the wing obsession doesn’t stop there, oh no, across America, we love our wings so much that we’re expected to consume 13.25 billion chicken wings in 2013, that’s 3 billion pounds of wings – equivalent to 455,000 elephants!

To get you in the mood for wings, we created a “Wing Obsession in America” infographic, just in time for the big game!

Get the Infographic

Wing Obsession in America

Get Prepared for the Game

Whether you’re looking for restaurant and kitchen supplies for the game, or a last minute party idea, Tundra’s got you covered for the game this year! Let us know what your favorite game time recipe is, and how your family and friends plan on celebrating this year.

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The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies

A foodie, in its simplest form, is a person who has an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food. They know the best restaurant and you never turn down an invitation for dinner – or should I say a seven-course culinary experience.

And yet, foodies are sometimes the hardest people to shop for because they either already have the latest kitchen gadget, or they’ll be disappointed by the simplicity of the gift.  When it comes to gift giving for these fickle fiends, there is one rule of thumb: commercial is key.

Foodies pride themselves on having the best quality cookware, worthy of any five-star restaurant.   When most people hear “commercial quality” they think high-dollar products. True, a commercial range can be pricey, but don’t be discouraged, there are always accessories with a much more wallet-friendly price tag! Here we will talk about gift ideas for 3 distinct types of foodies that is sure to please and guarantee another dinner party invite in the near future.

The “Chef” Foodie

The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies

This type of foodie considers themselves to be culinary masters. It’s all about a savory, explosion of flavor – taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.   Food prep accessories are guaranteed to be a hit, and there are plenty for every price range.
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies You may not be able to borrow a recipe from them because the spices are so unique, but leave them to the cooking – just show them you know their spice passion with this Commercial Spice Grinder.
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies Plating is all about setting up the absolute best experience in tasting. A sprig of parsley is no longer enough, but you’ve got this one too because no culinary master is set without an official Decorating and Carving tools set.
The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies One of the best parts of restaurant dining is dessert! But the time it takes to perfect crème brulee is far too long, but you know that won’t stop this culinary foodie – help them get a head start on holiday sweets with a Butane Micro Torch.

 

The “Drink” Foodie

The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies a visit to this foodie’s basement bar is like a time warp back to the 1970’s when the cocktail was king. They can turn a beer drinker into a martini drinker, and have you schooled in whiskey 101 before your departure.  This foodie is all about purity of the drink.
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies Did you know there were literally thousands of different types of drinking glasses?  From highball glasses to copper cups, this type of foodie loves the idea of showcasing their mixology talents – like this martini chiller.
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies Who doesn’t love homemade sangrias, especially when served for the masses? That is, if you can get a glass before it’s all gone.
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies And those cold winter nights (or mornings, no judgment), nothing perks you up and keeps you warm like a cup of Irish coffee. But a “Drink” Foodie’s version – with imported beans from Guatamala – is matched by no other.

 

The “Host” Foodie

 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies For the “Host” Foodie, it’s all about presentation: a different plate for each course, a different glass for each drink, a different napkin fold for each day of the week and if you need to know which fork to use, they are the flatware guru.  Shopping is easy for this foodie – it’s time to hit the dining room supplies!
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies Some people don’t repeat outfits, these foodies don’t repeat platters.
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies It could be a bowl of cereal being served, but as long as the table is dressed with these beautiful salt and pepper meals, this foodie is happy!
 The Perfect Holiday Gifts For Foodies The “Host” Foodie knows that the best cookware is the type that can go from the oven to the table and not disappoint.

 

Understanding foodies is part of who we are here at Tundra, especially since most of us classify ourselves as foodies as well.  As a company we’re proud to sell to restaurants and the everyday aspiring chef.

Good luck with your holiday shopping and remember:  the best gift is giving the perfect gift.

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Share Your Story of Restaurant Mayhem

The United States has faced devastating disasters in the last 10 years that have not only affected families, but businesses too.

  • In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in recent history, hit the Gulf Coast.  In a 90,000 square mile area,  thousands of local residents were left Share Your Story of Restaurant Mayhemunemployed and homeless while the death toll rose to more than 1,800 people and the total cost of damage was estimated at $125 billion.
  • Midsummer of 2012 ignited another catastrophic disaster – the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. This fire was named the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history: killing 2 people, burning 346 homes, forcing an evacuation of 32,000 people and smoldering 18,247 acres.
  • Most recently, Hurricane Sandy aka ‘Frankenstorm’ ripped across the east coast. The death toll has risen to approximately 109 people while 17,500,000 people were affected and an estimated $60 billion in damages (see this compelling Katrina vs. Sandy comparison by the Huffington Post).

Now more than ever, restaurant owners are learning what it means to prepare for a natural disaster – like those aforementioned, as well as the numerous earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and other catastrophic  weather patterns that have devastated our nation. Precautionary steps need to be made for before, during and after an event: building and food care, evacuation plans, support needs, etc. Unfortunately, the lack of available resources to learn more about what this means is few and far between.

Share Your Story

Share Your Story of Restaurant MayhemShare Your Story of Restaurant Mayhem
That is why we need you! Your story can be extremely valuable to other restaurant owners, not only in the US, but around the globe…
  • What is it like to live through a natural disaster?
  • What did you do to protect your business?
  • What didn’t you do that you wish you would have done to prevent damage?

We would love the opportunity to hear your story, and in return, your story could be published in our next flyer publication! We send our quarterly flyer to 250K independent restaurant owners nationwide and, of course, you would get the opportunity view the article before it goes to print.

If you are interested please share your restaurant’s mayhem story; we can’t wait to hear your story!

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