Volume 3 | Issue 5 | Year 2000

Fresh approaches to ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat meals are the driving factor behind the successful growth of BKI – a leading international food service equipment manufacturer. Consumers’ demand for prepared meals has ignited the home meal replacement (HMR) craze all over the globe. BKI commercial equipment cooks and merchandises mouth-watering foods so effic-iently that food-service operators in today’s supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores can get innovative, tailored solutions to help satisfy consumer demand for fresh, quality-cooked foods.

“We offer fresh ideas and innovative products to help supermarkets transform yesterday’s deli departments into today’s first choice for a fresh-cooked meal,” comments Randy A. Karns, president of BKI Worldwide. “BKI’s equipment cooks food to perfection, holds food at proper temperature for exacting quality over extended periods of time and merchandises food with sensory appeal for premium sales performance.”

A Better Way to Cook
The BKI legacy of innovation began more than 40 years ago in Simpsonville, S.C., when founder R.G. “Bob” Wilson created the Barbecue King Company, later to become BKI, out of the determination to invent a better way to barbecue. Traveling to more than 40 countries to exhibit his equipment, Wilson and his barbecue machine received worldwide attention.

As the inventor of the original revolving oven in 1954, BKI revolutionized the foodservice industry with more than 100 patents to its credit. BKI’s rapid growth was due in great part to the company’s anticipation of market trends – meeting various operator requirements such as holding capacity, ease of operation and versatility for broad menu applications.

In 1977, the Barbecue King Company was purchased by its present parent company, Standex International Corporation, a multi-industry manufacturer with operations in the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Mexico. In 1983 the company – seeking to expand its product line beyond the barbecue category – became BK Industries. By 1996, the company (now called BKI) had transformed itself into a leader of fresh ideas in food-service equipment. It currently has more than 120 distributors worldwide and 171 employees in two locations: Simpsonville and the Barbecue King Company in Reading, England.

To create a unified international force known today as BKI-Worldwide, BKI made another significant change in 1998 and consolidated with its English sister. Merging the international market knowledge, manufacturing operations and financial strengths of these two leading companies greatly leveraged the brand strength of BKI in North America, Latin America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Evidence of the merger’s success can be seen in BKI’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities located in the United States and England. The company uses specialized computer numerically controlled fabrication equipment for improved efficiency and productivity. BKI’s recent recognition as ISO 9001 certified further demonstrates its commitment to the quality management and quality system elements set by ISO’s international guidelines. All totaled, with the company’s computerized tracking of manufacturing quality and on-time delivery performance, BKI’s sophisticated methods and product technologies produce the most innovative food service equipment today.

Bringing Theater to Cooking
BKI’s full line of specially crafted food service equipment is concentrated on hot food products: the industry’s first Rotisserie-Combi oven, rotisseries and revolving ovens, pressure and auto-lift fryers, front-line deli cases, combi-ovens, low temperature Whisperflo® cook-and-hold ovens, ventless hood systems and various hot food merchandisers. In addition to this equipment – which is engineered with innovation, value and the customer in mind – BKI offers in-store employee training, menu development, technical support and other value-added services.

“BKI is committed to providing its customers with the highest-quality products and services through its continued efforts to develop innovative food-service equipment – equipment that affords higher profits, greater efficiencies and ease of operation and maintenance,” adds Karns. “BKI works closely with its customers to evaluate needs and create a setup that fully maximizes space, merchandising capabilities and manpower.”

BKI has built a strong reputation on the distinctive performance of its rotisserie ovens – a reputation that is demonstrated by its most recent introduction, a double- revolving gas oven (DRG-40). Its double-revolving cooking motion and enticing lower gas flame offers “show and sell” excitement for captivating visual appeal. The ceramic burner’s hardened-tile construction is purposefully rugged to withstand even the most grueling commercial food service environments.

“BKI has fashioned a large-capacity commercial gas unit that entices consumers and far exceeds the performance objectives demanded by operators,” comments Karns.

Another recent product introduction is a series of BKI Combi-Ovens, featuring an integrated system of circulating hot air and injected steam to ensure optimal cooking conditions across a broad spectrum. The result: perfectly prepared foods, ranging from beef and fish, to vegetables and rice, and even baked goods.

Other popular and notable equipment includes BKI’s pressure fryers and auto-lift fryers, which use a patented “quick-disconnect” filtration system for safe and simple operations, an innovation that helps to promote fried-food options that are efficient and easy to implement and manage.

Warming the Consumer
“Our engineers have also created a series of waterless ‘hot-hold’ deli cases featuring multiple Euro-style curved glass options that allow for total food product visibility and product appeal for impulse sales,” says Karns. “Precision-controlled independent food ‘zones’ allow operators to display several types of food products in the same case, even though these products require different ‘holding’ temperatures.”

Additionally, all of BKI’s deli cases, warmers and combination cases are available in countertop models as well as floor and pedestal models, allowing for maximum use of space. The company’s island case is different from ordinary island cases. The two-tiered display surface expands presentation space and enriches product visibility, resulting in an increase in customer interest.

BKI’s equipment maximizes space, improves productivity and increases sales and profits for any food service program. Anticipating the food service industry’s changing trends, BKI provides quality service and fresh, innovative products to keep its customers ahead in this ever-evolving industry.