It was with deep sorrow that Franke Foodservice Systems noted the passing of John J. Smith, Vice President of Operations for Franke Foodservice Systems. Smith passed away April 23 after an extended illness. He had the distinction of being the company’s longest tenured employee, having started with the company 47 years ago as an assembler on the production line at Franke’s predecessor company, Progressive Inc., in Philadelphia.
“We have lost part of the soul of Franke,” says Foodservice Systems CEO Thomas Campion. “John best represented the spirit in our company which says, ‘We can find a way,’ even when confronted with the sometimes daunting challenges that our global customers present to us.”
As head of manufacturing operations for Foodservice Systems, which produces kitchen equipment for major restaurant chains, Smith contributed to the growth of Franke’s production footprint as it grew in the United States, shifting from the Northeast to rural Tennessee; expanded to cover Asia from bases in China and the Philippines; and most recently entered India. Smith played a critical role in the continued adoption of Lean principles throughout Franke under the direction and constant encouragement of former CEO Hans Ott and later under Campion.
In 2011, on the occasion of parent Franke Group’s 100th anniversary, Ott cited Smith for his commitment to problem solving. “For more than 40 years, John woke up each morning thinking of ways to make things work better, and he brought leadership, heart and dedication to work each day.”
Smith is survived by his wife, Debra, six children and twelve grandchildren. Services were held at Fayetteville, Tennessee, also the location of Franke’s U.S. manufacturing facilities. Memorials may be made to REACH of Lincoln County, Tennessee, or your local Autism Awareness group, or Motlow State Community College Foundation.