Bill Moloney: Account Ability

How do you take a large and well-functioning university foodservice operation, serving more than 25,000 meals per day, to the next level? Bill Moloney, senior director for dining and auxiliary enterprises at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, will tell you it's achieved through a process of continuous improvement based on surveying students relentlessly. In fact, at this university, which will mark its 200th anniversary in 2009 and where foodservice celebrated its own 100-year milestone in 2005, the self-op department recently marked its 30th year of surveying all residence hall students, a process that now includes 42 questions that can be answered on-line.

"In 1984, when I first came here, we said we lived and died by that survey," Moloney recalls. "Last year, we had 96% of students who said they were satisfied with foodservice. That's unheard of! In 1994 or '95, when we cracked 90%, we threw a party and felt great about ourselves. But we thought about it: that means if there are 50 people in line, five don't like what you're doing, and that brings you back to reality."

Following leaders: Moloney is nothing if not a realist, albeit one with vision and a willingness to take calculated risks in thinking out of the box. Of course, without administration's support, many of his initiatives wouldn't have gotten off the ground.

"There's tremendous leadership here, that's why I came back to Miami," he asserts. "There's a goal of continuous improvement, with everyone working for the good of the students. People here find a way to make it happen. Their methods (of leadership) are fiscally sound yet dynamic."

While earning his undergraduate degree in accounting, Moloney worked in restaurants, where he was drawn to the management side of the business. When a job he held in an accounting office during the summer of his junior year proved disappointing, he had to rethink his career goals. "I couldn't stand the work, although it came easy," he explains. "For the next two years I focused on cost accounting and took a lot of management courses. For several years after graduation I managed a business that bought and sold former Pizza Hut locations, but it was not going as fast as I'd expected."

Much to learn: "So, in 1984, I applied at Miami as an assistant foodservice manager. My family, my wife Diane, my friends and even I thought I wouldn't last because I'd always been the boss or had worked directly for the owner. But I fell in love with it. It was exciting and there was so much to learn."

Moloney remained at Miami for almost a dozen years, steadily advancing to the position of administrative manager of foodservice operations overseeing seven of the 13 dining halls. In a strategic career move, this father of three accepted a job in 1996 as associate director at Ohio University in Athens. There, during the course of a five-year stint, he became the foodservice director, but when an opening in student dining came up at Miami University, he quickly applied and rejoined the team six years ago.

Today his department reports more than $37.5 million in annual sales and Moloney can point to numerous changes made since his return in an ongoing effort to enhance product delivery and expand choices.

Crown jewel: Top of the list, truly the jewel in the crown, is the opening of the Culinary Support Center. Up and running for the past four years, the state-of-the-art warehousing and production facility is located in a former Krogers supermarket purchased by the university for this project.

"We were operating in a facility built in 1932," Moloney says. "We were buying about $8 million worth of food a year, then storing and shipping it out to campus locations. We had to decide whether or not to get out of the warehousing and trucking business."

Visits to other university and even hospital foodservice operations inspired construction of a new facility. "We knew were saving about a quarter of a million dollars annually by buying our own food and running our own warehouse operation in the old facility," he explains. "We also calculated that if we bought more and produced more, we'd generate more savings and increase the choices for students, especially in prepared and packaged foods and in our bakery. Plus, each of our 10 kitchens were doing their own vegetable processing at the time."

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...
Sponsored Content
chili flakes and peppers spicy hot

From Catallia.

When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

More Options than Ever

“Students of today are all about flavor,” says Steve Mangan, director of dining for...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo is partnering with celebrity chef Robert Irvine in an attempt to provide military communities with healthier meals.

The 10-year partnership will allow Sodexo to access chef Irvine’s knowledge of nutrition and fitness in its aim to benefit the quality of life for military members, the vendor said in a news release.

Sodexo hopes that Irvine’s popularity as the host of Food Network’s "Restaurant: Impossible" will draw attention to its commitment to nutrition, health and well being. Irvine also has a military history himself—before embarking on his culinary career, he...

Industry News & Opinion

The cafeteria at the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture is intended to be an extension of the museum, showcasing stations that offer cuisines from different geographic locations such as the Creole coast and agricultural South, Time reports .

The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

Celebrity chef Carla...

FSD Resources