Chef fed-up waiting

Patience is a virtue – but sometimes waiting can get annoying…

Corroded Chinese Wok Range

Chinese restaurants & takeaways often have custom built Wok Cooking Ranges. In these ranges there are a number of Woks which sit on water cooled tubes which house the fierce open gas flames. Tower recently had to repair one in the Leicester area.

Bowing to client pressure Paul Surman of Tower Commercial Catering recently became certified to “install, exchange, disconnect, service, repair, breakdown and commission Domestic Gas Cooking Appliances” in a commercial environment.

Across the Midlands there are a significant number of organisations which use domestic gas cooking appliances:

  • in a demo or training environment
    • schools and colleges training chefs and providing domestic science (or cookery) classes
  • in a development (R&D) environment
    • food manufacturers who make for the domestic food market – microwave meals, boil in the bag etc and need to do development work on domestic appliances

Such organisations have found it difficult to retain the services of qualified gas engineers to support their businesses.

  • Domestic engineers are rarely able to service this equipment because the insurance / liability requirements that commercial enterprises place on them are too high to be affordable / viable.
  • Commercial gas engineers are rarely correctly certified to work on domestic gas appliances.

CKR1 Certified

With the CKR1 certificate which Paul now holds (and the necessary insurance cover of Public Liability – £5,000,000 / Employers Liability – £10,000,000) he is now able to provide organisations with the full range of certified gas engineering services covering both commercial and domestic cooking appliances.

After the extended summer break it isn’t unusual for commercial catering engineers, like Tower, to get called out to schools and colleges to re-start some equipment.

Ovens & flight dishwashers, and other key pieces which have been worked hard during term time, deep cleaned and then left sitting for up to a couple of months don’t always start-up without problems. Not unlike many cars which have been driven hard & then left unused for a few months.

The process of cleaning can itself cause problems if the equipment is simply cleaned and then left. We always recommend that after a deep clean catering equipment is fired up again to ensure that everything functions properly and that any moisture is removed prior to an extended shut down.

GRANULDISK DiplomaTower Engineer, Paul Surman, recently completed the extensive training program in the installation, repair and servicing of GRANULDISK’s range of pot washing machines. The training took place at the manufacturers facility in Sweden and Tower are now approved and recommended by GRANULDISK to undertake warranty work on this type of equipment across Leicestershire / The Midlands.

Continuing Tower’s long-standing policy of working with innovative and market leading manufacturers of commercial catering equipment the technology behind the GRANULDISK equipment provides kitchens with a viable alternative to conventional potwashing solutions.

The range of equipment includes: Granule Smart, Granule Gastro, Granule Combi, Granule Flexi & Granule Maxi and covers the requirements of commercial kitchens from the small to the seriously large. The technology behind the range uses Granules (small, blue plastic pellets) and hot water to mechanically scrub pots and pans clean – and eliminates the need for pre-washing. The blasting power (of the granules) together with high temperature water washes pots and pans hygienically clean in a matter of minutes, using far less water, energy and chemicals than traditional pot washing methods.




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.”

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

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.

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.