Steve Hosey has created a unique professional niche: equal parts chef, inventor, tinkerer, educator, recipe developer, researcher, and marketer. Although this doesn’t fit neatly on a LinkedIn profile, it does fit well into the culture at Vitamix, where Hosey has shaped his own role for nearly a decade.
Whether in the office or at home, Hosey is a hands-on guy. He has a deep appreciation for high-quality tools, and the engineering and creativity used to develop them. He tests equipment, helps Vitamix customers solve challenges; tweaks and tinkers to get what he needs. His weekends are spent on gut-and-remodel home projects.
Given his propensity for functional, labor-intensive work, Hosey has long had an interest in cooking. He embarked on his culinary career through actual restaurant experience, starting at the bottom and learning as he went.
“I didn’t have any type of classic training,” said Hosey. “I had some friends who cooked in a high-end restaurant; they got me a start in the prep and pantry stations. I worked across every station in the kitchen. Eventually, I created my own recipes that ended up on the menu or specials list.”
After working for two highly rated, traditional American restaurants, Hosey and his friends wanted to try restaurateuring for themselves. They opened a wood-fired barbecue restaurant in a historic 1850s building in Norton, Ohio. Tavern Wood Fire Barbecue was known for its ribs and its rich history as a stage coach stop, a speakeasy, and an infirmary, complete with hidden rooms and a secret underground tunnel. The restaurant was eventually sold, and Hosey came to the corporate world to make use of his organizational communication in business degree.
“ I helped end users and key customers better understand what the opportunities were, said Hosey. As a company, Vitamix saw there was value in that and supported that ... and that’s where my position moved. ”
But Hosey’s culinary interest never waned. After five years outside of the food industry, he secured a job as a market analyst with the product management team at Vitamix. Although Hosey had never used a Vitamix machine, he had a deep appreciation for the brand’s reputation and the types of challenges Vitamix products can solve for culinary professionals.
Working with Vitamix blenders for the first time was an eye opener for Hosey.
“When you don’t have one,” he said, “you find ways around them, but it takes more time and effort. And you get less.”
Hosey acknowledges his previous culinary exploits would have been more fruitful with the help of Vitamix machines. “I could have done more, and done better, with Vitamix equipment.”
Hosey found a niche at Vitamix helping foodservice customers—especially chains—maximize the value of Vitamix commercial products. He identified and solved customer challenges, whether it was new ways to use equipment, improve speed of service, achieve greater consistency, refine texture or viscosity, cut prep time, or even start a new venture—like a smoothie program.
“I helped end users and key customers better understand what the opportunities were,” said Hosey. “As a company, Vitamix saw there was value in that and supported that ... and that’s where my position moved.”
Hosey is intensely interested in how people use Vitamix equipment in real-life culinary applications. He studies how intuition guides people’s actions in relation to their Vitamix blender.
“There are so many misconceptions in the industry,” said Hosey. For example, “People say, ‘I don’t want to run a machine on high speed because I can hurt my machine,’ when that’s actually most efficient for cooling.”
Getting out into the field also gives Hosey a unique perspective on, and appreciation for, how different individuals use the same piece of equipment (and sometimes, the same ingredients) with completely different results. He’s moved by the work of vegan chefs who are creating new textures, getting ingredients to act differently than expected, and mimicking non-vegan items with amazing outcomes.
He’s helped to develop custom solutions—outside of Vitamix blenders—to ensure a seamless operation for customers. Among them, an efficient blender container rinser that maximizes uptime and a highly accurate water dispenser that ensures consistency in smoothies from one location or employee to the next. The Vitamix Aerating Container was initially created to solve a specific customer need. With Hosey’s help, this blossomed into a tool that could accomplish a number of classic culinary and mixology techniques in a fraction of the time, with equal or better results, for a larger customer base.
For Hosey, his job is all about the end user. But he insists it’s about the products. “It’s easy to show value to customers because the equipment performs so well,” he said.