Cedric Junearick: Reluctant star
At a Glance
- Part of 9th largest hospital system in the U.S.
- $7.6 million foodservice budget
- 613,000 patient meals served annually
- 213 employees
Cedric Junearick has helped transform foodservice at Huntsville Hospital by:
- Reducing the foodservice budget by nearly $2 million in two years
- Creating a delivery program that generates a minimum of $100 a day in extra revenue
- Building a team of managers who have helped define the department’s mission and boosted staff morale
Since leaving the Army, with the exception of a short stint running his own restaurant in 2008, Junearick has worked exclusively in the non-commercial marketplace. His employers have included an assisted living facility and airline feeder, but his longest tenure was the eight-plus years he spent with Morrison. Ironically, he probably would not have returned for a second stint at Huntsville had the hospital remained contracted. He had been forced to leave the hospital in 2007 when it changed contractors and for a time worked for Morrison at an account in Birmingham, Ala., while his family remained back in Huntsville, nearly two hours away.
But according to Norton, the hospital wanted Junearick. Norton was brought in to take the institution self-op.
“One of the first things I heard from administration was that they wanted Cedric back,” Norton explains. “He turned us down at first. I went back and asked him what it would take, and he gave me a number. [The administration] thought it over, and one administrator said, ‘Can he make cornbread?’ I said yes, and so they agreed to hire him.”
Rudy Hornsby, vice president of support services, says it is Junearick’s personality and his ability to get the job done that has made him a hot commodity.
“He knows the business and he has that drive, to do what needs to be done to meet his goals,” Hornsby says. “His staff respects him.”
Junearick loves his team and credits it with the success of the program. But he first had to get the team members to believe in themselves and the program.
“If you want to be successful you have to be able to adapt,” Junearick says. “I knew I was going to have to build a team of managers who understood the direction we needed to go in and to bring morale back to the staff. We had to take multiple personalities and management styles and bring them into one vision to create a team atmosphere and a healthy work environment.”
He led by example, going into the kitchen and demonstrating how to streamline inventory so that food—and money—was not wasted. He showed employees how to be creative with unused products, to take advantage of opportunity buys and to guard against theft.
“I told them to treat this like it was your business,” he says. “If you do it that way you are going to be successful.”
Not only did Junearick convince employees to take more pride in their jobs, the back-of-house changes were a major contributor to the cost savings the foodservice department has realized.
Junearick also had to change the perception hospital staff had of the foodservice program, an attitude that was manifested in the amount of food he saw being brought in or delivered to the hospital.
“I saw all that food coming in the front door,” he explains. “As the chef here I’m thinking, ‘they are coming into my place, providing a service that I could provide.’ So I decided to figure out, a piece at a time, how I could do this at a competitive price.”
Using the knowledge gained earning his bachelor’s degree in business management from Philander Smith College, in Little Rock, Ark., Junearick worked out the logistics of a delivery program that could match street prices while providing one notable cost savings to customers: no delivery charge and a no tipping policy. The program brings in at least $100 a day. (Read more about the delivery program here.)
Junearick suggests that his ability to succeed at Huntsville is due to a combination of factors. “My time in the military instilled the character of who I am today,” he says. “The restaurant business taught me to be really creative and think outside the box. And I also had faith that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I thought that the financial piece was going to be the most challenging, but I learned that I knew more than I thought I did.”
Junearick acknowledges that there have been some growing pains, particularly as he began to change the mindset of foodservice workers.
“Not everyone is going to like every decision you make, but if it is for the good of the services we provide for our patient customers and family members, then it is the right decision,” he says.