Fagor Commercial

Reforming an industry leading line to fit a North American market
Written by: 
Aimee St. James
Produced by: 
John Carioti

Fagor Commercial (Fagor) was founded in 1956 in Spain. Although it shares a name with eight different companies, Fagor sets itself apart from the crowd by providing only the best quality kitchen equipment for its specific market. By knowing the consumers, Fagor has become an international leader in its industry.

Looking overseas

Fagor decided it was time to expand its market when the company recognized there were only two countries it was not doing business in: China and the United States. In 2003 Fagor founded a corporate headquarters in Miami, Florida, tasked with presenting Fagor to the North American market, while the China-based facility opened in 2005.

Jose Perez, vice president of operations in Miami, came on board with one goal in mind: methodically developing every aspect of Fagor’s line to meet the needs of American commercial kitchens.

“I’m the gringo of the bunch,” Perez laughs.

Perez knew that the key to success in the American market was providing the right product for the right kitchens. Taking its products straight from Spain was not going to work in America. Fagor needed to adjust to fit its buyers.

Slow brewing

What sets Fagor apart is that the company didn’t immediately start selling its line after settling in Miami. To market truly quality products, the company had to reform and adapt the line for American consumption, which was different than that of its primary European customer base.

“The European’s cooking experience is completely different than how things are cooked in North America,” Perez explains. “At the typical dinner in Europe you turn the table twice, and the person sits at that table for two to three hours. In the United States, at that same dinner service, you’ll probably turn the table three or four times and expect to have a two or three course dinner within 45 minutes.”

The products Fagor already produced weren’t designed for the high turnover of American restaurants. “The equipment has to handle a lot more demand in a very short period of time,” says Perez.

Beyond the nature of American restaurant patrons, Fagor also had to take into consideration the change in kitchen staff. “In Europe, chefs have a different approach to their equipment than in the states,” Perez continues. “Most European kitchens work in a brigade system, where a person works only one area or one piece of equipment. This way the chef can keep an eye on things more easily. European chefs take care of their equipment almost as much as their knives. Here, chefs look at the equipment as a tool to get the job done. They don’t go for anything but heavy duty, so you have to build your equipment a little bit stronger to be able to handle these needs. This is how I see North America versus the European marketplace.”

Serving up the goods

Outside of North America, Fagor can furnish 85 percent of an entire kitchen. As a worldwide leader in the industry, Fagor knew adjusting its line to handle the American marketplace was the right step.

Fagor laid the groundwork to start moving into American kitchens with a focus on dishwashing equipment in 2003. By laying the foundation for its product, sales and service network, the company shortly began rolling out its first line of refrigeration to the United States in 2007; the new manufacturing facility was established in Mexico to cater to America’s needs with North American specifications.

As the response to Fagor’s products was overwhelmingly positive, the company has begun expanding its commercial dishwasher line, as well as bringing in new refrigeration equipment. With everything from sushi cases to food-prep tables, Fagor is eager to have the entire American kitchen furnished with products.

The most recent milestone in the Fagor’s catalog came in 2013 with the addition of Combi Ovens. A high-end product for the industry, the Combi Oven, was adapted from original Fagor products, but built to North American specifications.

“The oven can be the highest ticket item in the kitchen,” Perez explains. “Our goal is to make it accessible to a wider market, through different feature configurations.”

Now drawing from three different factories to meet the demand, it’s easy to see the benefits of the slow development Fagor took to its new marketplace. Mirroring the different techniques of European slow-food service versus the American quick-serve industry, it’s clear that the Spaniards have the right idea.

A plethora of courses

At this time, Fagor is happily developing a strong presence in the North American market. “We feel the biggest project has been introducing Fagor into North America,” Perez details. “It’s been slow and steady, reliable growth.”

As far as the future goes, Fagor expects to continue finding that its steady rise to the top of the American market represents a comfortable, predictable expansion. With plans in the works to continue rolling out more redesigned products, this international leader has great products coming soon to a kitchen near you; Fagor Commercial shows no signs of slowing down.

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