Apparently the new chief executive of the Gas Safe Register Russell Kramer has been quoted as saying

“Illegal gas fitters are putting people’s health and finances at risk.

Not only that but they are depriving registered gas engineers of work, and driving out legitimate businesses.

We will do everything we can to squeeze them out.”

‘Paul has been our Engineer for the past 8 years, covering all of our commercial equipment and ware washing.  He is always reliable, friendly and professional and  a great asset to our business’

Sandra Betts, Catering Operations Manager, Trent College.

Trent College

We were recently asked where Tower CC sits in the industry structure for commercial catering engineering service companies. It isn’t possible to be exact because businesses move into new sectors and address new markets. However, we see the market being split across 5 largely discrete groups / types of company or service provider.

Type 1 – National Service Companies

  • These businesses are generally the highest cost service providers because they carry significant overheads
  • They tend to employ engineers (possibly in the hundreds) to cover all sites / areas
  • All engineers will be fully qualified & accredited and the business will carry high liability cover insurance
  • Their service provision is 24/7 x 365
  • They are best suited to kitchens of multi-site, multi region, multi outlet businesses which can afford absolutely minimum downtime and which can benefit most from the nationwide cover available. Such clients include businesses such as: national fast-food companies, hotel chains / restaurant chains

Type 2 – Regional Service Companies

  • These businesses generally employ sales & administration teams and are often aggressively targeting growth and extension of the client base
  • They employ 5+ engineers, all fully qualified & accredited and the business will carry moderately high liability cover insurance
  • They might provide cover 24/7 x 365 for some contracts but not for all clients
  • They tend to cover regional contracts for example covering the Midlands rather than single counties
  • Due to somewhat lower overheads they tend to charge less than the National Service Companies but more than Local Service Companies

Type 3 – Local Service Companies

  • Employing, on average, 1-5 engineers all fully qualified & accredited
  • Like the Regional companies the business will carry moderately high liability cover insurance
  • These businesses generally restrict geographic cover (primarily to keep fuel costs down and maximise engineer service time availability)
  • There is not the capability in such businesses to provide 24/7 x 365 cover to their clients.
    • The cover provided to contract customers is controlled by the service level agreement negotiated at sign-up
    • Breakdown / emergency cover – subject to engineer availability within defined working hours
    • Tower currently operate on the principle of
      • Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm – subject to engineer availability
      • Out of hours, weekend and bank holiday cover at additional cost and subject to availability
  • Costs for Local Service Companies are generally lower than Regional primarily reflecting the smaller teams and lower overheads

Type 4 – Unregistered / Unqualified / Not Accredited

  • Identifying how many engineers are on the books isn’t always easy for these companies
  • The engineers may well have a great deal of experience but are not registered, qualified or accredited to meet the UK legal requirements
  • Consequently the services provided are not covered by insurance
  • These businesses can be categorised as Cowboys, operating on the wrong side of the law
  • The costs of the services provided vary considerably and are by no means always lower then the service companies listed above
  • Cover is provided when it suits them rather than to meet client needs
  • This approach may void / nullify any insurance cover and puts the organisation at risk from a health and safety perspective too

Type 5 – D.I.Y.

  • While this category are not service companies in any way they are a significant factor in the catering equipment service industry
  • The D.I.Y approach is generally restricted to smaller organisations run by people who don’t understand the law / legal requirements to use competent, accredited and qualified engineers
  • Lots of sports / members clubs etc where members know enough to fix problem but are not qualified
  • This approach may void / nullify any insurance cover and puts the organisation at risk from a health and safety perspective too

The market structure outlined above is only our view of the market in which Tower Commercial Catering Ltd operates. Beyond the issue of market structure the question of pricing is possibly less contentious. The factors which we believe impact most significantly on prices include:

  • Fuel costs
  • Costs of achieving and maintaining certification and standards compliance
  • Insurance and protection costs
  • Labour rates
  • Profitability
Ventilation / Extraction

Quoting from BS6173:2009 Section 11.2 Interlocking

“An interlock shall be provided which will cut off the gas supply or prevent the operation of appliances if the mechanical ventilation system provides an inadequate airflow rate for the safe operation of appliances and the safety of personnel.

If an installation pre-dating September 2001 does not have an interlock fitted, the installation shall be assessed to establish whether an unacceptable risk is likely to arise.”

Tower Commercial Catering come across such installations (pre Sept. 2001) periodically and undertake the required assessment. To date, only seven kitchens have been classed as unsafe i.e. the level of risk associated with the installation has been deemed unacceptable. In each case the absence of the interlock system hasn’t been the only problem – merely one more indicator of an unsafe kitchen environment.

For kitchens which have yet to assess their operational safety relating to ventilation issues or any other aspect of operation we recommend doing so as soon as practicable. Much better to be safe than sorry!

Ventilation / Extraction

Pressure SteamerTower are very pleased to have been contracted to provide preventative maintenance and servicing for all of the kitchen equipment at a college in north Leicestershire.

Their asset register across the two on-site kitchens – a bistro and a restaurant – includes: ranges, cookers, dishwashers, glass washers, steamers, fryers, bain-maries, hot cupboard, carvery, light gantries, water softener, pressure pump set.

Tower Commercial Catering Ltd were selected because of the high quality of service provided and the cost effective package offered. Tower also met, and exceeded, all of the college’s certification and safety requirements.

With the growth of on-line purchasing and discounted catering equipment supply, Tower is seeing an increase in enquiries from both the suppliers and the purchasers for commercial catering equipment installation and repair services.

Shopping around for the best deal on the equipment purchase can save the kitchen thousands but it often leaves the buyer needing to find a reliable, certified engineer to do the install or to maintain and repair the equipment later in its life.


[button color=”green” size=”medium” link=””]Catering Equipment Suppliers – contact Tower to discuss contracted service options for the Midlands[/button]

[button color=”green” size=”medium” link=””]Buyers of discounted catering equipment needing installation services – contact Tower for an installation quote[/button]

Tower Commercial Catering continually train to maintain and extend skill sets and ensure that all of the major brands can be installed and serviced. Paul Surman, Director of Tower, is fully factory trained and certified on all Palux commercial catering equipment ensuring that installations of new Palux equipment into kitchens across Leicestershire and the Midlands and maintenance services for kitchens already using the leading brand can be performed safely and effectively.

Tower has no axe to grind over different commercial catering equipment brands – we maintain, repair and install all leading brands. However, we do see Palux as being likely to grow as a leading brand in the UK as a viable competitor to Rationale.

Euro Catering Equipment Ltd are the sole importers of Palux catering equipment to the UK. Contact them if you would like a demonstration of the equipment. If you do talk to Euro Catering about Palux equipment please feel free to quote TowerComm to get a discount on installation costs.

Commercial kitchens, across Leicestershire and the Midlands, may have been saving money in recent months, and possibly years, by not having their catering equipment regularly serviced. Instead, many have been inconvenienced (at best) over the recent busy period by breakdowns, some of which would have been pre-empted by regular service visits.

Recent weeks have seen engineers called out to repair all sorts of equipment, the most common problems being:

  • broken-down dishwashers and glass-washers – which don’t cause the kitchen to stop, but do cause a major headache
  • non functioning ovens and ranges – causing service to be interrupted / delayed

Whenever possible the Tower engineers have minimised downtime and got the equipment operating (safely) using running repairs until the necessary spare parts have arrived. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible and then the Chefs / kitchens have been looking for alternative solutions.