Eric Zills Reflects on His First Year in the Food Industry

For this month’s Drake Blog, we decided to talk to Eric Zills, our North America Sales Manager, about his first year in the food industry. Eric joined Drake in January 2022 and has over twenty-five years of engineering and sales experience for industrial applications. He is responsible for expanding Drake equipment sales and Middleby complete line solutions throughout the United States and Canada.

Drake: “Congratulations on your one-year anniversary. As someone who recently joined the food industry, what has been your biggest surprise in the last year?”

Eric: “Probably the biggest surprise to me is just how many hot dogs are consumed in a year. Living in Wisconsin, I knew that most people like to eat hot dogs, but I never realized the extent to which people truly love hot dogs. I now understand why our customers need Drake’s high-speed loading capabilities. There are a lot of hungry mouths to feed.”

Drake: “That’s totally true. So, what has been your biggest challenge in the last year?”

Eric: “The biggest challenge for me is the sheer quantity of information one needs to learn to properly serve the food industry. It is amazing how much is involved in the process of making hot dogs. It is so much more than just adding color and spices and grinding up the meat.

I’ve learned that a hot dog is not just a hot dog. There is a big difference in the varieties and brands in the market. There are so many different recipes and mixes out there and much more that I am still learning.

Looking back on this past year, I am glad that I made the decision to join Drake. My customers have been great to work with and the team at Drake is spectacular. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues and their dedication to our customers and the industry is impressive.

Drake: “That’s great to hear. Is there anything else of note from this past year?

Eric: “I started at Drake at a great time. The hot dog industry knows us for our high-speed sorting and loading of cooked product into packaging machines. We realized this knowledge could help the poultry industry with the sorting of raw product, so around the time I started at Drake, we introduced a machine specifically for their needs.

Hot dogs have minimal variation in size and shape. In contrast, raw poultry can vary by 50 percent or more in size and shape, which traditionally made automating these processes difficult.

Fortunately, Drake has taken our singulating expertise and created the PS-60 Poultry Singulator, which is a highly efficient machine that can help poultry customers streamline their processes. A bunch of poultry arrives at the PS-60 all at once and it spaces the product apart (e.g., the poultry exits the PS-60 without contacting another). It’s perfect for customers who need their food product to not touch other food products when entering an injection or X-ray machine.”

See the PS-60 in action in Booth C11729 at IPPE in Atlanta, January 24-26, 2023.

Drake – Your Partner in Automating the Food Industry.

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