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.

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.




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.