Jameel M. Burkett, President, Burkett Restaurant Equipment

Jameel M. BurkettSemifinalist, Distribution

Upon graduating from the University of Toledo in 2002, Jameel Burkett took his bachelor’s degree in business administration to Burkett Restaurant Equipment, the business his father had built. At the time, it was nothing more than a local restaurant dealer.

But Burkett believed he could take the business and transform it into a nationally recognized restaurant equipment distributor. Determined to make his dream a reality, Burkett identified the importance of understanding the intricacies of the business and elected to spend time working in various roles throughout the business.

He spent time in the warehouse managing inventory, as well as time with the Web design team and the sales staff. With a thorough knowledge of the business, he was named president in 2011.

Burkett made significant investments in his employees and, more specifically, his management team. He wanted Burkett Restaurant Equipment to become a place where talented young professionals could envision a rewarding career, not just a job. Burkett takes pride in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of himself as well as others, so he has strived to build a management team in which the members would complement each other.

He hired strategic managers from the automotive industry to enhance the company’s capabilities in warehouse distribution, acquisitions and marketing. Building expertise in those areas has proved critical as the company faced the challenges of the recession, along with the loss of a major customer.

Faced with the decision to either cut costs and lay low until the economy improved or invest more in key areas, Burkett chose the latter, tripling his workforce and investing in new technology that has helped the company achieve new heights.

HOW TO REACH: Burkett Restaurant Equipment, www.basequipment.com