Chris Coan of Gas South Wins 2010 GRACE Industry Partner of the Year Award
Chris Coan , General Manager, Business and Government Markets, Gas South, was honored at the 2010 Georgia Restaurant Associationâ€™s Crystal of Excellence Awards (GRACE) with the Industry Partner of the Year Award.
Coan joined the Gas South team in November 2006, but his first restaurant experience stretches back to when he was in high school. He used to work Saturdays and Sundays busing tables at Veederâ€™s Family Restaurant in Schenectady, N.Y., to earn extra money.
Today, Chris helps restaurants with their natural gas needs as part of his job with Gas South, and knows the amount of hard work required to be a successful restaurant. He works with restaurant customers to develop creative solutions for their needs as far as rate plans and price, but also looks at ways to help expand their marketing reach. He is responsible for all industrial and governmental customers with annual natural gas consumption greater than 30,000 therms.
A graduate of the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University, Chris also received an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the State University of New York and a degree in Ceramics from Georgia Tech.
What restaurant industry means to Georgia: The restaurant industry plays a key role when evaluating the strength of the Georgia economy. The industry is a large provider of diverse jobs for Georgians while bringing together community members for one of the countryâ€™s favorite shared pastimes â€” eating out. As such, the restaurant industry plays a key role in keeping our local economy and communities strong.
Major trends: In this economy, controlling operating costs, including those associated with utilities like natural gas, will be very important. The other trend I see is more customers asking for local produce and sustainable products served at their favorite restaurants. The GRA has seen the interest in local and sustainable issues surfaced by various roundtables, committees, and GRA partners and acted quickly to build the Green Foodservice Alliance. The GFA is a great addition to the GRA and will have a big impact on helping its members learn and implement programs that promote environmentally friendly best practices.
Industryâ€™s most pressing challenges: Credit issues will continue to be a big challenge in 2011. It will hit restaurant owners on two fronts. Most importantly, restaurant owners will find it much harder to find capital to support expansions or to stay afloat during slow times. In addition to tight credit, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in Georgia and regulations around data security for restaurants that accept credit cards will add additional costs and risks for owners as they work to stay compliant.
Advice to those just starting out: I donâ€™t have much advice to offer someone entering the restaurant business, but for those who are new to the GRA, I would recommend they get involved. The best way to optimize your membership is to get involved with the various committees and roundtables. Working on a committee is a great opportunity to network with restaurateurs and the vendors who support their businesses. This is a great opportunity to learn about whatâ€™s going on in the industry and a friendly environment to refine your value proposition. For anyone looking to sell their services or products to a restaurant, I recommend you go out and eat at the restaurants your want to serve. Itâ€™s always easier to start a sales call with â€œI really enjoyed your special last night.â€