Restaurant Technologies is Not Only Surviving Covid-19 but Planning for Growth

News & Blog

This article was written by Dale Kurschner and originally appeared on Minnesota Perspectives on June 11, 2020. To view the original article visit

In this week’s episode of One Take CEO Interviews, Restaurant Technologies chief Jeff Kiesel shares how his business prepared for and then adjusted to a drop in business due to Covid-19 shutdowns, and is now gearing up for growth.

His Mendota Heights, MN-based company is the nation’s most efficient fry-oil business, providing everything from fresh oil appropriate for what’s being fried, to equipment in the kitchen that dispenses new oil and then collects used oil. Its 1,000+ employees serve the food service, restaurant and hospitality industries that have been hit hard since mid-March.

Kiesel explains how the company was able to minimize the level by which revenue dropped, keep most of its workers employed and is now gearing up for growth via a “rebound team,” an “acceleration team,” raising debt financing and hiring a chief marketing officer.

What’s worked well for Restaurant Technologies thus far? Focusing on its core values, doing scenario planning that slanted worst-case and then adjusting spending accordingly, and communicating daily and equally with everyone from executives to front-line employees. His interview is available to watch here via YouTube or listen to here through Spotifiy.

One Take CEO Interviews are independently produced by former Twin Cities Business Editor in Chief Dale Kurschner to provide viewers and listeners with unscripted, unedited discussions on how Minnesota CEOs are leading during the Covid-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact on their operations, and the economy.

The first episodes are recorded home-to-home via Zoom, due to then-required “work from home” rules. The host is rusty at sounding good “on stage,” but the CEOs are excellent at sharing how their organizations are prevailing during the greatest economic upheaval and uncertainty of our lifetimes.

The CEO interview series is sponsored by Platinum Group, Minnesota’s most experienced advisory group helping business owners and leaders with extreme challenges including financial setbacks, lender and landlord re-negotiations, turnarounds and bankruptcies. Kurschner is one of its consultants.

Complimenting this series are interviews with key members of Platinum Group. This week’s is with Bob Stewart, an attorney, CPA, business manager and an entrepreneur with experience in several industries across several subjects ranging from international business and turnarounds to serving in the roles of interim manager, corporate oversight, general counsel and consulting advisor. He’s been with the Platinum Group for 15 years and specializes in strategy and turnaround assistance, transitions especially on the south side of matters, and corporate governance leadership.

In his short one take (unedited) interview, Stewart covers several important topics including communication and the need for leaders to be decisive.

“Communication is so vitally important. You have to communicate with your employees, your vendors, your customers and of course your primary source of finance. What you’re going to communicate depends on the circumstance,” he says. “But one of the things that I’ve seen in this crisis even more profoundly than at other times is that your people in all of these categories need you to lead.  This is the time for action. This is the time for decisive leadership. And it is one of those times when people may need some [outside] assistance in figuring out what is the right step to take as a leader. “

Stewart’s interview can be watched here on YouTube or listened to or downloaded from Spotify or Apple Podcasts.