Bryan Huntley Interview Peerless Ovens

They have been manufacturing quality cooking equipment for over 100 years now and made in the USA!
You can find their ovens in pizzerias, food trucks, bars, convenience stores, entertainment centers, amusement parks, bowling alleys, Mexican restaurants, bakeries, breweries, wineries, and well, just about everywhere.
Representing the company we are speaking of is Mr. Bryan Huntley of Peerless Ovens

Q – Bryan, I looked at the history of Peerless Ovens. That’s some history! A fourth-generation business. Now, how much competition do you have?
A – Oh, I mean there’s a fair share of competition in many different ways, through direct competitors and indirect competitors the way I look at it. We sell deck ovens primarily. Big ones. Small ones. Gas ones. Electric ones. Counter ones. Floor ovens. But, pretty much the traditional big ovens with the door. And, we compete against the conveyors. We compete against the high-speed machines in that sense. But, we also compete against other brands that make what we make. So, we have a couple tiers of competition. We’re probably the smaller of them because we are not a conglomerate. We are a family business. I own the business I own 100% of the business and I’ve been here a long time.

Q – So you then are the owner/Pres. of the company?
A – Yeah. That would be accurate.

Q – You and your father developed and patented a high-speed infrared cooker. Was that used just for pizzas?
A – No. It was one of the first high-speed cookers that came out of the United States. We currently have it off the market potentially undergoing some redevelopment. But, it would cook anything. Cookies, subs, soups, pasta dishes, pizzas. It would do anything and anything it cooks up it would cook up 50% faster than conventional ovens. We were the first high-speed cooker in the United States.

Q – Are you selling your ovens to the big chains or independent businesses?
A – We sell mostly to independents. Most of the big chain people don’t use what we make. We’re doing bars, restaurants, and independent pizzerias. We do a lot of the entertainment businesses, bowling alleys, jump parks, water parks etc. Our market is pretty vast.

Q – Do you have to go out, I’m not talking about you personally but do you have someone in the company who has to go out on the road in pitch your product or are you depending on online sales?
A – We actually sell to dealers and distributors. I have a sales manager and of course me, but we don’t have sales people that travel around. Dealers and distributors are everywhere we sell our product and of course our marketing is online and it’s online also through the independent dealers and distributors that sell our product. Were kind of a push pull marketing system. Pushing the product to the consumer, through brand recognition and feature benefit marketing and then pulling it back to the dealer distributor network, be it online or someone goes into a particular dealer and says “I saw this Peerless and I want to buy.”

Q – There are Peerless ovens that were built in the 1920s and 1930s that are still in use today?
A – Yeah. There are two ovens that we built today that we were building in 1919, the 2224 and the 2248 our products we still sell a lot of that are being built the 104 years that we’ve been around.

Q – But, the ovens that Peerless built in the 1920s and 1930s are still operating today?
A – There’s a testimonial on our website, and go to testimonials and there’s an oven from 1934 that is still in use.

Q – That about says it all doesn’t it?
A – Well, we certainly think so. We make a product that is for fixing in this throwaway world that don’t get fixed, that get tossed. Our ovens are simple, durable machines that don’t take up a lot of space. We’re very much a space-saving company. We save people space. We save people money. We save people time. So, our ovens are usually more efficient as far as their energy use of our competitors. So, that’s why we came up with the maximizer slogan-“more for less.” With Peerless ovens you get more for less.

Q – I assume you always worked in the family business. Have you ever worked at anything else?
A – As a matter of fact, I have not. (Laughs). I worked for my uncle on the side making money when I was in high school. I started to work here at 14 years old making catalogs. By the time I was 15 years old I was working on the line building ovens. I’ve worked at every place in this company. I know how to do every job in this place from sheet metal to shipping.

Q – Does the company have to be located in Sandusky, Ohio? Could you have branch factories in other cities?
A – I mean this is where the manufacturing is and we have dealers and distributors that are in different locations that’s the role that they play. I wouldn’t want to run at this point more than one manufacturing facility. We could put a plant anywhere we wanted of course. We came from Columbus, Ohio in the late 1800s up until 1942 and then we moved from Columbus to Sandusky in 1942 and here is where we are. And were sitting on the South Shore of Lake Erie which is very much a boaters Mecca, which is why I believe the previous owners brought it up here because they loved the lake. They loved to boat. I can’t ask them though because they’re not around to ask. But, if I surmised it knowing what they did with boating they wanted to experience Lake Erie boating. My family has always had heritage in this region.

Q – And you probably do a fair amount of boating yourself.
A – I do. I’m a sailboat racer. I’ve raced all over the country and abroad, down in the Caribbean and known to be an accomplished racer and I enjoy classic Chris-Craft. Yes, I think I’m kind of a boating enthusiast if you will.

Q – This pizza business seems to have a phenomenal growth potential doesn’t it?
A – Well, it seems to be very popular. But, when we say we sell a lot of pizza ovens, it’s also not fair to call our ovens pizza ovens. We sell them to bars and restaurants that cook everything in them from entrées to soups. So, to call an oven a pizza oven is really not even fair because they’re so versatile. The deck oven that we make can be used for everything. It’s just a simple platform for providing food service to customers. McDonald’s is not our type of customer. Domino’s is not our type of customer. Were here to service the average Joe in the food service industry that doesn’t want to tie up a ton of space and wants to get in and buy an affordable product that’s going to provide them good service. We make nine different base ovens that provide 50 to 60 variations of product from gas to electric to ventless. Ventless is our new thing by the way. We are now offering electric ventless ovens that go into stadiums, they can go into movie theaters, they can go into bars and restaurants, but they don’t need a hood system. So, there’s certified and they are very much high-tech and they provide a lesser cost alternative to putting in a very expensive ventilation system and changing their HVC. Our business is very much broad-based and versatile because we make ovens for the Mexican restaurant industry. We make ovens for the bakery industry. We make ovens for the pizza industry, the bar industry, the bowling alley industry and with our ovens the initial investment is less and their output is very good. If you go to you can read about our testimonials and I don’t know where all of these people go to get their information but I’ve heard there’s blogs and I think we come pretty highly recommended by the users of our product as far as the quality of our bake, the performance of the ovens as far as recovery and the space-saving. So, we have a very diverse product line that offer a lot of different types of ovens for different people. That’s why we make so many different styles. What makes sense to one person might not make sense to somebody else.

Q – How many Peerless Ovens do you have in your house?
A – Oh, I just have one little one in the basement for pizza night.

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©Gary James

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