Morrison Marches On

 For the Atlanta-based contractor’s new ceo Scott MacLellan, nothing is as certain as the need to adapt to an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

At A Glance: Morrison Management Specialists

•Corporate: Headquartered in Atlanta; division of Compass Group (since April 2001)

•Top Execs: Scott MacLellan, president and ceo; michael Svagdis, president, Morrison Healthcare Food Services; Kevin Svagdis, president, Morrison Senior Dining

•20,000 team members

•Managed Volume: $1.6 billion+

•Account Base: 570 acute-care faciliites, 380 senior dining locations

•Major Clients: Tenet Healthcare (58 hospitals); LAC+USC Medical Center, Los Angeles; The Fountains Retirement Communities (18 nationwide)


When the challenge is to improve quality, increase sales and take costs out of the equation, a supply-side veteran might be just the person for the catbird seat.

FoodService Director - Morrison - Scott MacLellanLast spring, Scott MacLellan became president and CEO of Atlanta-based Morrison Management Specialists, a division of Compass Group, Americas.

He’s considered somewhat of a supply-side guru in the industry, having worked for Kraft Foodservice cum Alliant (subsequently acquired by U.S. Foodservice) where he was part of the team that created the distributor’s healthcare focus. Also, in 1999 he founded Foodbuy, the group purchasing organization Compass eventually acquired in July 2001.

Glenn Davenport, who retired as president and ceo of Morrison about a year ago (see May 15, 2006, FSD, p. 34), had met MacLellan through their mutual Foodbuy board of directors involvement. Thinking him a man who could seamlessly and enthusiastically fit within the culture of family caring and compassion that Davenport had sought to create, Davenport invited MacLellan to join Morrison.

“I’ve focused on Morrison for the last three years, ever since Glenn asked me to come work with the sales group,” MacLellan explains. “I still sit on the Foodbuy board; Foodbuy also serves non-Compass Group [clients]. There are plenty of others in casual dining and healthcare—both acute care and senior living—as well as some K-12 school organizations.”

Sustainable effort: Since Compass Group recently rolled out its sustainable purchasing initiatives, Morrison will soon be involved—but already, MacLellan sounds prepared to handle whatever additional costs are required.

“A primary focus of ours is locally grown, organic, health and wellness,” he says. “Fedele Bauccio, president of Bon Appetit Management Company [also a Compass division], is a role model for all of us, and we’ll be into buying locally grown, sustainable and organic in the future. We’ll be engaged here in that entire area of socially responsible purchasing. It will definitely be an increased cost. It’s an investment to move into these categories and we must be careful not to increase costs to our customers.”

MacLellan’s new playing field at Morrison is a fertile one (see company profile at left). Today, 80% to 90% of accounts are managed on a profit-and-loss basis, necessitating a knowledgeable retail mindset, MacLellan notes.

“Our market is always changing and evolving,” he comments. “We have a number of initiatives behind the scenes [to be announced] to keep pace with and get ahead of our clients and the industry. The three areas our customers [i.e., clients] are focused on include: satisfaction, innovation in terms of the retail environment and within patient feeding, and cost innovation—to take the cost out of the business.”

Past chill: In the past, in an effort to improve quality and reduce costs, Morrison has utilized cook-chill technology where appropriate. MacLellan believes it works best in a “densely populated area,” but hints at another solution coming down the pike. “There are new technologies we’re exploring that can be more efficient than cook-chill in saving time, labor and improving quality,” he says.

As for the room service model that the healthcare industry has been steadily moving toward as standard, MacLellan believes that it has improved patient satisfaction 100% of the time—primarily because, at Morrison, associates are totally involved in “owning” the process in order to create a positive patient experience.

“It’s a high-touch program in which the catering associate takes the order, prepares and delivers the meal, then returns to pick up the tray,” he points out. “So they have a tremendous ability to know that the customer got what they ordered, prepared the way they wanted it. They have 100% ownership. Catering associates feel they’re really part of the healing process by meeting nutritional needs and creating emotional, healing bonds. That’s something anyone can get excited about.”

Going Green House: For the past several years, Morrison has been providing the foodservice at all of the Green House models in existence today. This model of residents living in smaller, home-like settings (visit ncal.org/caring/greenhouse.htm) is seen by many as the wave of the future.

“Now, other senior living facilities are implementing pieces of the Green House model,” MacLellan reports. “From a foodservice perspective, they appear to have the same cost. You have the Shahbazim [the certified direct-care staff] there doing more services [in addition to preparing and serving food]. I think there’s an equal trade-off in cost. It remains to be seen how successful it will be long-term—in many senior living locations they have taken the best pieces and brought them together in an integrated model.”

To crow about: But any successful program is all about people going above and beyond their jobs—everything else follows from that, MacLellan contends. “Everyone in the company wants and is expected to provide superior service,” he contends. “Now, we’re starting to spread ‘People First’ stories to our 20,000 Morrison associates. We’re capturing [stories] on video and through our weekly newsletter. Every week there’s some instance of great service performed by an associate that’s above and beyond their jobs.”    


Two Divisions, One Goal
Morrison’s operating units are poised to step up their personal focus on patients and senior residents alike.

Taking room service to the next level

FoodService Director - Morrison - Scott MacLellanMichael Svagdis has been with the Morrison Healthcare Division for the past nine years, having started out in sales and eventually becoming division vice president, then president in 2004.

In acknowledgement of the reality that acuity and age of patients coming into the hospital setting is changing, he and his team—based on focus group input—are constantly refining room service.

Another direction? “Everyone rolls the program out and assumes 100% of the population will use it, but it’s not so,” Svagdis says. “We’ve really researched acuity level and patient mix, so we’re looking at another program. Part of it [yet to be announced] is the spoken menu. There are so many patients over 85 years old who can’t pick up the phone [to call in an order]. So we have traditional hotel-style room service as well as Catering to You, a more high-touch approach. We truly see our people as able to change the lives of patients.”

Another initiative for both retail and patient feeding focuses on providing antibiotic-free meat and a commitment to purchase organic produce. “There is greater cost but it’s a discussion you need to have with your clients,” he says. “In retail, I know people expect to pay more. As far as ‘organic’ produce goes [versus locally grown but not necessarily organic], the goal is to ultimately get ‘certified organic’ because that’s what the consumer expects.”

Svagdis believes that in addition to providing three hot meals a day, “great customer service and smiles can really impact lives. We hear it all the time.”

Looking at the whole person in senior dining

FoodService Director - Morrison - Scott MacLellanKevin Svagdis—Michael’s senior by three years—has been with Morrison for eight years, six on the healthcare side where he served as regional manager and then regional vice president. Two years ago, he became vice president of Senior Dining and was named president last February.

Svagdis sees the major imperative for his division as satisfying the needs of the generation of Americans that began coming into senior living locations about five years ago (often called the Silent Generation). “They’re better educated than previous generations,” he explains. “They have traveled, they’re used to fine restaurants and service is of huge importance.

In focus: “Therefore, choice, variety and flexibility are the biggest focuses,” he says. “The old dining rooms are going away and being replaced by bistros, cafes and room service. Our Whole Person Wellness initiative looks at the whole person and combines ‘mindful choices’ with retail.” Come spring, Svagdis plans to adopt and adapt Dining On Call, the room service program now available in the Healthcare division.

Over the past year, the Senior Dining Division has reduced the number of special diets from 11 to four main ones, plus renal and low-fat. Meanwhile, the Balanced Choices healthy eating program is in place in more than 160 of the division’s locations. Now, the Fit, Sugar Free, Reduced Salt and Vegetarian icons used to educate seniors and help inform their “balanced choices” are being joined by two new ones: Ocean Friendly Seafood and Superfoods.