Tom Anderson began his career in the foodservice industry in the early 1970s as an employee of North Star, then owned by John Pafenbach. As a young father, Tom left North Star to start Lakestate Sales, representing a handful of top brands like Continental Plastics, Homer Laughlin China, Cardinal Glass, Baxter Manufacturing and Robot Coupe (which we still represent today).
JCA was started by Warren Johnson in 1958 and has represented some of phenomenal lines over the years including Wells Manufacturing, for over 50 years now. Paul Johnson joined his brother, Thomas Johnson, at the rep firm Johnson Commercial Agents in 1994.
Tom Andersons' business philosophy was not too unlike his approach to life: treat people well, take nothing for granted and don't expect business to come to you. These principals were shared by his business partners and employees other the years, and were handed down to his son, Todd, who grew up in the business.
After attending college and seeing a bit of the world (he played professional soccer in England), Todd joined Lakestate Sales, eventually merging back with North Star and partner Jim Froelich in 2001, and then with Paul Johnson from Johnson Commercial Agents with an eye to growing the business.
Those who remember Warren remember as the consummate representative; as quick with a spec as he was with a joke. He knew how to work a room and listen in a kitchen. A true giant in the industry.
Paul graduated from Notre Dame and started out as an Electrical Engineer for the likes of Unisys and Medtronic. Since then he has continued to leverage his engineering background to provide technical insights to help sell everything form thermometers to ventless cooking platforms.
The Future of North Star
The newly combined North Star Commercial Agents has continued to add to its team of experience sales and support staff and now represents over 30 top manufacturers in nearly every category of the industry, all while not forgetting its history. Tom won't let that happen. Though officially retired, he still rides along on sales calls and demos to stay connected with the industry and people he's come to love.
Looking forward, Todd, Paul and the entire North Star team continues to be active participants in local, regional and national organizations that support and grow the foodservice industry.