When we came home from work, neighborhood dogs stopped over for a sniff.
Way back in 1981 Horizon got its start selling and servicing equipment to bakeries across the wide-open prairie goodness of the Great Midwest. Ovens. Proof boxes. Donut-making machines. That kind of stuff.
Bakers work ungodly hours, so when their machines went down, there we were at 4:00 a.m. with a wrench in one hand and a gas station coffee in the other. Those early years are now largely a caffeine-addled blur, but we did learn some valuable business lessons.
First, sell reliable equipment at a fair price, because food people aren’t made of money and their livelihoods depend on their gear working right. Second, have the parts in stock that are essential to keep the machines running, and be able to install them quickly and professionally—any time, day or night. What’s a baker going to do if his oven goes down, swing into S.A. for muffins to sell?
We quickly learned 24/7/365 on-call service was the only way we could reliably take care of our customers. Which leads us to business lesson number three. Treat your customers like they were your friends—which is what many of them still are, some 30 years later.
Eventually bakers got used to having us around the place, and would occassionally slip us a little something from the reject pile. This is when we picked up another valuable business lesson: Working in the food business is murder on your beach body. Thankfully, Minnesota beaches are only open three months a year, so our shame is at least seasonal.
When some of our original baker-artisan customers migrated to supermarket operations, they took along our wrinkled, flour-crusted business card. Pretty soon we were up to our elbows in the grocery business, providing bakery equipment, meat-processing gear, deli equipment, scales, freezers, walk-in coolers and display cases.
Grocers, who get up only slightly later than bakers, liked that we knew foodservice equipment inside and out. We were specialists, which mattered to them because failed equipment in the grocery business can spell disaster. Soon, we were selling, installing and servicing equipment to grocers around the country.
The story goes one day a charcuterie chef doing some grocery shopping asked the deli guy, "Hey, where'd you get that sweet-a** meat slicer?" (Chefs work a little blue.) When the reply came back, "Horizon," our career in the restaurant industry was born.
Our chef customers soon discovered that just as they respect each ingredient in every dish they make, so Horizon respects the ingredients that go into superior restaurant equipment. We call ourselves equipment outfitters, because, much like an outdoor equipment outfitter, our customers rely on our gear in the field—usually under great stress. Since many diners only give a restaurant one chance to impress, restaurant equipment simply has to deliver.
Having observed how top equipment performs in the field for decades, we make recommendations not based on trends or flashy, but useless features, but on real-world experience. We know which equipment delivers day after day, service after service, not because we read it on a website somewhere, but because we have lived it. That's our story—and our advantage—for our customers.
Working in the trenches of the restaurant business, our pants soon began to take on the aroma of other food groups—like savory meats. When combined with the lingering bread tones, we now smelled like a steak sandwich, which only exacerbated our dog problem.
But, we pressed on, and today we've expanded to serve foodservice professionals of all kinds. Restaurants, cafes, delis, coffee shops, bars, country clubs, hotels, casinos, hospitals, schools, universities—wherever food professionals want a partner who respects the equipment every bit as much as they respect the food.
So, whether you need buying advice on a single fry pan, or you're looking for a turnkey design and outfitting solution for your entire cooking suite, Horizon is here for you. From mom-and-pop cafes to massive commercial production facilities, Horizon is the food professional's choice.
We want to be the outfitter for your cooking adventure—wherever it takes you.