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B&I Innovator of the Year: Eaton

B&I Innovator of the Year: Eaton

Eaton has demonstrated that service coordination  across a facility and enterprise can better leverage wellness and sustainability programs. Take a closer look at Eaton’s Innovations >>

The “Top 10” full service dining room on Eaton Center’s 10th floor offers sit-down service at lunch and features a set menu that rotates quarterly. (Photography by John Lawn)


Two top concerns for corporate dining client organizations these days revolve around initiatives to support healthy employee lifestyles and efforts to demonstrate commitment to good corporate citizenship in their communities.
At Eaton, a $22 billion global player in the manufacture of power management solutions for the electrical, hydraulics, aerospace and vehicle industries, these issues—and their relationship to dining and wellness programs—were top of mind when the company planned and built its new Eaton Center campus in northeast Ohio.

There, the main café features rotating daily chef-driven meals, with price incentives and color-coded signage to encourage healthy choices. Every station ensures that multiple offerings comply with strict Cleveland Clinic guidelines for wellness and nutrition, with the same guidelines used in its catering menus and vending machines. Eaton’s wellness program encourages employees to use its free on-campus fitness center and a matrix of walking trails that crisscross its campus. Health insurance discounts encourage employees to enter critical health data into an online health-improvement program and the entire campus is tobacco-free.

Sustainability was another focus in the facility’s design and the way its foodservice is managed. Like many world-class companies, Eaton has a goal of achieving “Zero-Waste-to-Landfill” status at all of its facilities. You can see the impact this initiative has had in its kitchen, servery and catering areas and in the “refreshment stations” located throughout the building.

At the facility level, the building consumes significantly less energy and water than a conventional building of similar scale; it generates 6 percent of its electrical power needs from solar panels mounted on the roof of its five-story, 1,100-space parking garage. The buildings were constructed using recycled and locally-sourced materials, with at least 90 percent of construction waste recycled or reused and are in the final stages of LEED certification.

Eaton’s commitment to such goals and demonstration of them in its building design and employee services makes the company a clear innovator in facility and food management. FM visited the company in August to get a closer look at the impact this philosophy has had on its hospitality and foodservice management programs.

Dining as a facility design criteria
Corporate dining and other hospitality and facilities management services are overseen at Eaton Center by Scott Branstetter, a 10-year veteran with the company.

Dedicated in early 2013, Eaton Center was several years in the planning and was built to consolidate three separate facilities Eaton operated in northeast Ohio. Its 600,000 sq.ft campus sits on a 53-acre site and houses the company’s corporate and business functions as well as Eaton University, an onsite education and conference center. The 10-story tower is flanked by two, five-story wings and is home to about 800 employees. The three earlier facilities all had modest dining operations, and “combining the populations allowed us to improve the quality of the food and service without increasing the subsidy,” Branstetter says.

“During the design stages, we laid out our wellness objectives and discussed the role of dining operations, the placement of the salad bar and the use of action stations to emphasize fresh and nutritious food choices,” he says.


Healthy eating at Joe's

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Eaton’s commitment to wellness doesn’t stop with nutritious food. Sustainability is a priority throughout the 53-acre campus.


Eaton Center’s primary first-floor café, Joe’s, is contemporary, welcoming and spacious, but also is designed for efficiency and without excessive signage or station flourishes. It features grill, pizza and two rotating action stations as well as a large oval center island that offers an extensive salad bar on one side and a full-service deli counter on the other. (Foodservice management company Guckenheimer was selected to operate the foodservices). Specials of the day are prominently merchandised on one end of the island at the entrance to the café, with healthy choices emphasized.

All offerings are tagged red, yellow or green, based on Cleveland Clinic nutritional criteria. “The menus evolved over the first couple of months as we worked to get the food fully compliant with the Clinic program,” Branstetter says.

“When we issued the RFP to select a provider, we made it clear we wanted to host a chef-driven model and would require a lot of creativity. We wanted chefs to have autonomy with their stations so they would have greater engagement with the offerings and interest in getting our employees excited about the food. We wanted to clearly demonstrate that healthy can be delicious!”

Price points are geared to incent customers to choose healthier options, Branstetter says, with a 25 percent differential used on posted prices of comparable side dishes and entrees.

The Take Ten Café in Eaton’s main lobby serves breakfast, Starbucks coffee, smoothies and snacks from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As a result of employee feedback, one rotating station is used to regularly host “Sushi Mondays” and “Taqueria Tuesdays,” with other entrée specials developed by the onsite culinary staff and changing daily. Four of the stations have cooking equipment and he notes that has permitted them to offer wellness events where chefs teach classes that show employees how to prepare more healthful food at home.

The Top Ten, another dining room, operates as a full-service restaurant for lunch only on the 10th floor. That operation is often home to client meetings, but is also open to all employees of the facility. It has a set menu that rotates quarterly, with daily entrée and soup specials.

Originally, catering production was to have been handled from the 10th-floor kitchen. But as building operations began and catering needs grew, “we found it was important to have additional capabilities down on the first floor, near the training center,” Branstetter says. To accommodate that, an interior space that had been designed for vending storage was modified to provide a catering staging area for activities like boxed lunch assembly and extra coffee production.

Five pillars of wellness

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According to Ellen Collier, vice president of global compensation and benefits, Eaton’s comprehensive wellness initiative aims to prevent and even reverse chronic illness among employees in its workforce. “It starts with our core values and the idea that people are our most important resource,” she says. “Our CEO asked us to develop a holistic, global wellness program that would make us a leader, as we are in sustainability and corporate ethics.
“It has five pillars,” she adds, expressed in a short list of personal action goals that are widely communicated across the company’s global operations:

• Know Your Numbers
• Be Tobacco-Free
• Eat Healthy
• Get Fit
• Manage Stress

In the “Know Your Numbers” initiative, the company uses Active Health Management, a life coach management program that employs biometric testing and health risk evaluation. Each employee then has a personal dashboard used to monitor areas like blood pressure, weight and cholesterol.

The first-floor café, Joe’s, offers a grill, pizza and two rotating action stations, as well as a large center island featuring a salad bar and a full-service deli counter.

“Our dining program ties into this specifically,” Collier says. “We recognize that an employee is here for more waking hours than he or she is at home during the week. Our goal is to help employees become more productive and proactive at work, at home and in their communities. We want to encourage lifestyle choices that support those goals.”

While participation in the program is optional, “employees get a discount of $25 per month per person on health insurance premiums for participating,” she adds, noting that over 70 percent of employees and spouses do participate. A similar percentage actively use the Fitness Center, which is available free of charge.

“The view of Eaton CEO Sandy Cutler is that there should be no barriers to wellness,” says Branstetter.

A mixed population

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Eaton Center is home to about 800 employees, mostly knowledge workers, although about 20 percent are out of the office on any given day, according to Branstetter. That is partly compensated for by the approximately 200 on-site contract employees in the facility daily. Also, the training/learning facilities actively serve a larger regional population from other Eaton facilities; combined with visitors, that typically brings another 200 potential customers to the campus daily.

Guckenheimer operates foodservice for Eaton.

“In the second quarter we averaged 367 lunch customers/day in Joe’s,” he adds. “If you add in the 230 daily meals that are catered we calculate we serve 57 percent of the building’s average population of 1,040 on a typical day.”

Average ticket price for lunch is about $7, with entrees typically costing $5-5.50. Salads are composed by staff behind the salad bar sneeze guards and are $4 and $6. Catering represents a significant portion of foodservice business there. “We averaged 4,300 catered meals a month in the first seven months of 2014,” Branstetter says.

Events range from business lunches for small groups to larger group events such as those at Eaton University, serving groups from 30 to several hundred. Four or five times a month the Center will also host evening receptions on the 10th floor, often using the “Top Ten” room as well as long hallways along the building’s exterior window walls, which provide expansive views of the region.

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