Why Kessenich's? - Kessenich's

Why Kessenich’s?

Javier De – Los Santos, Warehouse

Javier was born and raised in Puerto Rico and obtained his Bachelor’s in Business Administration there. 7 years ago, he came to the states looking for new opportunities, starting in Ohio with Menard’s, moving to Indiana, and finally to Madison, Wisconsin to be closer to his wife Gabby’s family in Wausau.

Javier works as part of the Kessenich’s warehouse/delivery team and fit right in from day one.

He and his wife Gabby are new parents to a sweet little girl named Abby. Javier loves to run but says “After you have a baby your whole focus is all on them!” As a family they like to hike and spend time together with their extended family.

Teena Faber – Dedicated to Showroom Success

If you have visited our showroom no doubt you have been greeted by Teena’s smiling face and friendly welcome! It seems impossible that she has only been with us for 5 years.

As Showroom Manager, Teena knows Kessenich’s inside and out and not only runs our Customer Service department but also works on special projects for customers, finds those hard-to-get items that might need some extra digging, and helps our residential customers find the right tool for their home kitchen. She supports our sales staff, fields requests from our website, and is a huge part of the welcoming atmosphere you feel when you walk in our doors.

Teena is a long-time Madisonian, moving here when she was just a freshman in high school. Now she is married with 2 children and as she will tell you, “a bunch of critters”! Teena and her family love to have family get-togethers at the lake and eat out at all the wonderful local restaurants Madison has to offer – especially Indian food.

What makes it all worth it to Teena? “The absolute best customers anywhere and a really fun hardworking team!”

Dugan Fernandez – Customer Service/Account Executive

“I take on whatever role the day throws at me – I kinda like it!” Dugan has been hands-on and involved 100% since he joined the Kessenich’s team in 2019. He has experience in project management, customer service & showroom sales, and currently is focused on serving local Madison clients in need of smallwares, supplies, and equipment.

A Michigander by birth, Dugan grew up in the Metro Detroit area. He helped his father building custom wood lockers for high schools and universities growing up (Michigan State, Ferris University, Western Michigan University to name a few).

Dugan’s first introduction to the biz was “slinging plates for the Culinary Center” in Southfield, MI and quickly knew he wanted to be part of the bigger picture. When the opportunity came to join the Kessenich’s team presented itself he jumped at it. He convinced his girlfriend, Lauren to move to Madison and they soon adopted Coach, a gentle giant rescue dog. Lauren found work as a Digital Imaging Specialist locally and they have embraced the Madison community. In their spare time they love to explore Madison, eat sushi, and you will probably find Dugan on the golf course getting in a quick 9 whenever he can!

Executive Chef Lauren Montalbano Bio

Chef Lauren not only is the chef liaison for the Kessenich’s Innovation Center Kitchen, but also owns and operates The Vibrant Veg, a personal chef and event catering company in Madison, WI. She has spent the last four years running kitchens in Madison,WI. It was there she gained skills as an event caterer, menu developer, mentor, and hospitality manager. She also worked as a program coordinator for a non-profit that supplied nutritious meals to those facing health crises.

In addition, Lauren works as a personal chef for seniors and individuals with specific dietary needs, making her an expert in designing meal plans for people with special dietary restrictions and preferences. Her training as a holistic nutritionist helps her to create nutritionally balanced meals that wow clients and customers all over the country.

Chef Lauren also teaches cooking classes and enjoys performing food demonstrations for Kessenich’s, Channel 3, and various other publications.

Mari Johnson

Kessenich’s is happy to welcome Mari Johnson to our team as Kessenich’s first designated Interior Designer.

Mari has a long history of working in the foodservice industry, specializing in front-of-the-house design and consulting on furniture, fabrics, layout, color schemes, flooring, and finishing touches to create a unique dining atmosphere.

A Wisconsin native, Mari and her husband Dave enjoy UW Basketball, as well as boating and fishing from their Lake Waubesa home of 24 years. When not in Madison they love to escape to Indialantic, Florida to enjoy the ocean or visit their daughter Jennifer in Chicago.

Coming to Kessenich’s, for Mari, “… is like coming home. I love design. I am very passionate about what I do!”

We are so glad to have Mari on our team. Email Mari to set up a consultation at mjohnson@kessenichs.com.

Matt Liggett – Warehouse Manager

Matt has been an integral force in the Kessenich’s warehouse operations for over 6 years. With a work history of construction & delivery he was the perfect addition to the Kessenich’s team. As a teen his first job was at a local Pizza Pit where he would often see the Kessenich’s delivery truck pull up. Today he runs the warehouse, schedules equipment deliveries across the state and even out of state, handles all shipping & receiving, and schedules the daily delivery routes for his staff of 4.

Matt’s team works closely with our installers to get equipment delivered on time and set in place properly. He likes the foodservice industry and even attended culinary school for some time before transitioning into his current role. When asked what he likes about Kessenich’s, Matt replied “Kessenich’s has some of the best management I have ever seen. I have been in other jobs where management doesn’t even bother to learn your name but not here – the owner of the company knew me by name on day one. I like the foodservice industry and seeing behind the scenes at the restaurants we deliver to. We have a great team, and I really like the atmosphere we work in here.”

When not at Kessenich’s, Matt and his wife Kelsey stay busy with their two sons. Matt says he is “…a typical Wisconsin guy” – loves the Packers, Badgers & Brewers and when they get the chance, he and Kelsey go see their favorite bands in concert.

Scott Graffin, Project Manager

Scott Graffin is a Project Manager for Kessenich’s. Initially hired in 2017 to stock the warehouse and run deliveries all over the state of Wisconsin, a year later he joined the contract install team and gained invaluable real-world experience with all the different types of equipment Kessenich’s provides, quickly being promoted to Lead Installer.

As Lead Installer Scott learned how to lead a team and grew professionally with his experience training his colleague, Zeke Barraza. Scott made sure jobs were run with efficiency as well as with great team communication. In December of 2020 Scott transitioned to the Project Management Department.

“Having a relationship built already with my contract team and our installers really made the job transition as smooth as possible.”

Scott takes advantage of learning opportunities with equipment manufacturers, Q & A’s with chefs, and enjoys the Owners Training sessions for contract jobs he runs which provide an in-depth look at the equipment just installed.

“When you see all the hard work behind the scenes that takes place in completing our food service contracts at restaurants, schools, senior centers, etc. you learn to really appreciate the kitchen as a final product.”

Scott loves being part of the Madison community, going to Badger football games, checking out the diverse restaurant scene by the Capital or hanging at The Union on summer nights with his wife Amber and their two dogs Jax and Millie.

Fun Fact about Scott: He lived in Ohio before coming to Stoughton, WI with his family as a boy and is a huge Ohio State fan when he’s not rooting for the hometown Badgers, Packers, & Brewers. In his spare time, he likes to play volleyball and softball.