Bezac Equipment Co. Feasts on Restaurant Supplies

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — A small company that supplies restaurant equipment has carved out a large footprint across the country, thanks to several national chain contracts that keep the business thriving.

“We’re an unbelievably small company competing with unbelievably large companies,” says Leonard Mochtyak, vice president of Bezac Equipment Co. “We’re a lighter on our feet, and we’re able to respond a little quicker than others.”

The company was established 25 years ago when Mochtyak and his business partner, Bill Custer, left their respective employers to form Bezac. “He had a restaurant operations background and I had an equipment background,” Mochtyak says. “The guy that owned both those companies ran into financial difficulties, so we went out on our own.”

Since then, Bezac – the name is derived from Mochtyak and Custer’s sons, Benjamin and Zachary, then both one year old – has experienced steady growth and profits along with the food services industry.

“Most of our business is contract sales, and the biggest account we have is Arby’s,” Mochtyak says, a relationship established under his former employer. “We’re one of the three approved companies nationwide to supply Arby’s. We do those all over the country.”

The company has also secured contracts with Pilot restaurant and fuel stations, as well as provides supplies to local operations, Mochtyak notes.

Bezac sells practically everything a restaurant needs to conduct its business such as counters, refrigerators, freezers, mixers, fryers, ovens, seating fixtures, napkin dispensers and cabinets.

“We do some local work, but the large amount of our business has come from our corporate accounts,” adds Custer, president of the company. “Food service is in a boom period right now.”

Arby’s, for example, is in the middle of a corporatewide remodeling effort and Bezac is busy supplying many of these restaurants with equipment, Custer says. The company was responsible for supplying all of the furniture and fixtures for the newly remodeled Arby’s in Austintown.

“Arby’s has become an older chain,” Mochtyak notes. “So, they run through these cycles where they spruce up their looks and they’ve done a good job.”

New construction and remodeling efforts have helped the company rebound from the Great Recession and surpass pre-downturn levels, Custer says. “Our business had dropped off significantly,” he recalls. But it didn’t take long for sales to fully recover, and since then the company has seen its revenues grow substantially. “We’re very happy with the situation we’re in,” Custer adds.

The business was born in a small space that had been a dentist’s office. From there, it moved to an address on Market Street, then to a former church on state Route 46 in Austintown before it settled into a 20,000-square-foot building and warehouse on Mahoning Avenue seven years ago.

Before the recession hit in 2008, Bezac’s annual sales stood at $8 million, Mochtyak says. “Our fiscal year is just about to end, and now we’re close to $15 million,” he reports.

These numbers pale in comparison to some of their competitors, who have much deeper pockets but a more complex management structure as well, Mochtyak says. “Our two main competitors do around $1 billion in sales a year,” he says.

Bezac and its 11 employees are more nimble in responding to orders and questions, Mochtyak says, and being smaller in a business that consistently demands faster turnaround times gives it an edge. “Our success, and why we’ve been able to survive, is our service,” he says. “We refuse to go to a voice mail system. When you call us, you get a person to talk to right away.”

Much of Bezac’s business is contracted with its national customers, and it usually takes about three months before the order comes and the full installation is completed. “We supply pretty much everything that’s in the building,” he says.

Restaurants such as the MVR in Youngstown, The Kennsington Grille in Canfield, and Plaza Mexico in Austintown are among the company’s clients nearby.

“They’re locally owned, and that’s great for the community and what small businesses look for,” says Miguel Palacios, manager of Plaza Mexico. “The business stays in the community and they’ve got a great variety of supplies.”

Over the past 10 years, the restaurant – formerly Salsita’s – has bought a host of equipment from Bezac, ranging from stainless steel tables to margarita cups and cutting boards, Palacios says. “They always have what we’re looking for and can get it to us in a short period of time.”

Once Bezac receives a request, it places orders with equipment manufacturers who then deliver the supplies to the company’s office and warehouse. “Generally, we’re matching the customer’s specifications,“ Mochtyak says. “In the chain business, those specifications are set.”

In some cases, orders can be tweaked to accommodate a chef or restaurant owner’s preference.

After all of the components and equipment for the order arrive, the pieces are staged, packaged and prepared for shipment to the customer, Mochtyak adds. “We’ve got three orders shipping today – one to Warsaw, Indiana, one to New Castle, Pennsylvania, and one to Lima, Ohio.”

Mochtyak compares his business to that of a logistics coordinator who has to make the project run smoothly and on schedule. “When it’s all in, we ship it to the customer and we coordinate with our contractors, informing them of the date of delivery so we can have them there to meet the trucks, uncrate the equipment and install it,” he says.

“Our people are really good,” he says with pride.

Pictured above: Bill Custer and Leonard Mochtyak say their company’s sales have nearly doubled since the end of the Great Recession.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.