The invisible hand of capitalism sweeps away weak companies and favors strong ones. The system also loves a turnaround story where companies that become weak regain their footing and establish a new chapter of growth and greatness. This is TurboChef’s story.
In Fall 2003, TurboChef was on the brink of extinction. The company was not making payroll. Debt was mounting. And existing management was struggling to keep the organization afloat. What TurboChef did have was a collection of nearly 300 patents centered around breakthrough speed cooking technologies. Building on that innovative foundation, Vista served as the internal brand and marketing team in concert with a team of talented professionals to turn the company around, unlock its potential, and create a brand and business from the ground up.
With speed, our TurboChef team gained velocity in the commercial food service industry by introducing a rebranded story, product line and differentiated platform.
The investments paid off quickly as well-known chains such as Subway, Starbucks, and Dunkin Brands adopted our platform across their entire enterprises. With a strong commercial footing, Vista turned its attention to the residential initiative evolving the back of house industrial oven into a coveted consumer kitchen appliance. Competing with well-known brands like Viking and Wolf, Vista guided TurboChef in the evolution of the products design, user experience, brand voice and multi-faceted brand and marketing investments that redefined the industry's status quo and generated significant enterprise value.
Innovation Through Design.
Undoubtedly, the speed cooking technology was highly-differentiated. And in a media world highlighting the power of appearances, it was difficult to illustrate the winning technology within. As the company's Chief Branding Officer who drove product design and development, Steve Beshara used design as a key differentiator. He hired the SF-based frog design team as well as Porsche Design from Austria to create a market defining design. The strategy was to create a beautiful, distinctive design that could be easily-recognized in the media, especially through live cooking demonstrations on broadcast television.
Starting with unorthodox market research, captured by 60 Minutes, the collective team created designs that showcased the exact demands and interests of the cooking consumer. The TurboChef oven became a media star by cooking live, real time, on leading networks including NBC's Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS's Martha Stewart Show.
People love real innovations they can use. And as a small company, we developed a powerful and influential recipe of market-leading individual personalities and organizations that saw the intrinsic power of the TurboChef oven. An oven that cooks at up to 80% faster than conventional methods with Chef-endorsed results proved fascinating to our partners. Together, we added interest and velocity to their brands and ours.
Renowned Chicago chef Charlie Trotter immediately understood the power and benefit of the TurboChef oven. At his restaurant concepts, he employed the TurboChef oven to produce award-winning culinary results. Trotter was very articulate about the oven and we asked him to cook for us at large event and product launches. We were honored to have him as one of our top spokespeople.
The reaction we received from our first cooking demonstration for Martha Stewart was irreplaceable. The ensuing endorsement relationship became an obvious decision. She quickly recognized how the oven enhanced the busy home cook's lifestyle with high quality results in a fraction of the time. Martha cooked on the TurboChef with fellow top chefs on her TV show. See here.
THE GENIUS OF 8
My goal was to deliver an experience that surpassed leading examples like the Apple Store. So, we engaged the award-winning design firm responsible for the Apple Store retail design. 8 collaborated closely with the TurboChef team to create a live cooking demonstration at large trade show events through use of the "food bar" where Chef Trotter and others prepared a four course gourmet meal for select dignitaries in under 25 minutes.
I believe publicity launches new brands and advertising sustains them. In order to capitalize on our unique offering, we employed the Magrino Agency in NYC to help us spread the story. With the challenge to cook on every major broadcast channel, Susan Magrino and team worked closely with us to unleash our product through live, real time cooking demonstrations.
From Underwater to $200 Million
After rebuilding the company for 5 years, TurboChef was acquired by Middleby Corporation in January 2009 for $200 million.
Since that time, Middleby has strategically enhanced the TurboChef technological platform by acquiring Viking Range in 2013 for $380 million. TurboChef's patented Airspeed technology is now being integrated into the iconic Viking Range.