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times; don’t be afraid to talk the talk and walk the walk; remember, professional services demand professional fees, don’t ever give up and be humble in all you say and do.” Consulting proved stimulating and rewarding for Caruso. Looking back over a long and satisfying career over 44 years, he points to milestones such as the introduction of computers and design programs, automation, acceptance of independent consultants by clients and worldwide development and growth of the independent food facilities consulting industry. “I think that FCSI plays a crucial role in our industry for many reasons,” Caruso says, pointing to the opportunities it offers for educational advancement and its role in “binding worldwide markets into a common bond and goal”. In addition, he declares, it separates professional consultants from those who don’t practice at the same standards. Caruso became an FCSI Fellow in 1986 and through the years, it’s been a source of great pride. “I am proud to be in the company of a small, select group of individuals whom I admire for their hard work and achievements,” he says. “I bow to those ‘masters of the trade’ who are no longer with us, and that includes many industry icons over the years.” While he takes pride in the many projects throughout his career, one stands out as a favourite – the renovation of Boston’s Fenway Park for the Red Sox in 1987. Growing up in New Jersey, he played baseball competitively as a youth and Fenway was always an iconic venue. Caruso and his team led the charge into sports arena foodservice, he recalls, and since that project, has completed similar jobs at 162 stadiums and arenas.

What the Red Sox family wanted, he recalls, was unique and Caruso


was able to set new design and systems standards such as central beverage systems and other additions considered “new wave” at the time. “I love the interaction with the team and the front office and the ability to talk baseball jargon with them and have it actually affect foodservice results.”

The job involved Caruso’s favourite area of design – central fluidics systems. “We wanted to be able to serve the customers faster and to create clubs behind home plate. We worked with friends with central beverage distribution systems to run the beer through lines that were wrapped in glycol so they didn’t have to move big kegs around. The central system was one of the first of its kind. Today, you have similar systems for wine and even liquor.” He has enjoyed

He has enjoyed interacting with people since he can remember, and believes his level of social comfort and ease came from his father whom he calls “an excellent communicator”

interacting with people since he can remember, and believes his level of social comfort and ease came from his father whom he calls “an excellent communicator”. Many of his clients over the years have become close and loyal friends. “I’m a people person,” he says. “We start with a client and go through thick and thin.” Along the way, trust and friendships develop. Looking at the industry and its

evolution, Caruso sees a robust ‘scene’ today but one he believes contracts and expands more readily than in the past. The most pressing business challenges, he says, are finding qualified, bright, educated people and policing the value/cost relationship.

Over the years, he’s learned a lot about communication. “I can

recollect one major project issue many years ago where the architect saw me and one of our senior people at a conference in Europe that they were also attending. They thought we were ‘wasting’ our time there rather than working back home on their project, which had a major deadline approaching. I tried to explain that we had many others working on the job in our absence, but this issue caused a negative communications gap. Ultimately, we finished the project, on time and on budget, but the negative comments back and forth caused us to lose this major client for a number of years. Recently, we rekindled the working relationship, which is very good for us, but the experience taught me that upfront, careful communication with certain clients, who may have bigger egos than others, is important and you have to quickly gauge which clients fall into this continual maintenance category and ask yourself, is this the type of client you really want to have over the long run, anyway.” Today, consultants have to think big and market effectively, Caruso says. “I’m a controversial guy,” he points out, declaring that consultants today have lost market share in a marketplace that has become ultra-competitive. Clients are on a “quicker

schedule” he adds, and consultants’ margins are smaller. “You have to know the return on investment and how to use financial tools. “Somewhere along the way,

consultants, who once thought big, began thinking smaller.” And today, other industry segments such as foodservice equipment dealers, overlap in what can be a free-for-all, he notes, adding that consultants need to stress that they are at a certain level by marketing, thinking bigger and re-inventing.

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