Meet Kornel Grygo, CEO of Tasty Catering
Get to know Kornel, a new member of the EFBC.
Location: Elk Grove Village, IL
Tell us about your career leading up to where you are now:
I started at Tasty in 2007, and officially became CEO January of 2019.
I graduated high school in ‘04. I took a little break from school and worked some different jobs. And I quickly figured out that not getting an education is not the best route for my future. So in 2007 I decided to go back to school and attended UIC, where I studied Business Management. At the time, I was looking for something that's really flexible with my schedule. And my girlfriend at the time, is a niece of the Walter brothers, who own Tasty Catering. I started off at Tasty as a delivery driver. At the time I was in school full time and working full time. Tasty is a 24-hour, 7 day a week operation, so I was able to easily work full time.
I remained in that role until I graduated, which was 2012. At that point, I was promoted to Director of Logistics, in charge of our delivery staff, fleet maintenance, and part of the leadership team. Throughout the years, I fell in love with the company. They always took care of the people, were always culture focused. I actually approached Tom Walter, who was the CEO at the time, and is the current owner and said “hey, I want your job, what do we have to do?”. We then worked together to create a timeline and metrics I had to achieve to in order to prepare myself for that position. I have held almost every position at tasty, so I understand the whole operation and a lot of the staff here have been together for a long time.
What do you like most about what you do?
I really like the daily challenges. It's always something. And obviously we're in a food business, so the pandemic had a huge impact on our business. It's easy, a lot of times, to focus on the negatives, but there are also a lot of positives in our business that allowed us all to get closer and work through the challenges we faced in 2020 and to this day. It helped us focus and really live our culture and ‘walk the talk’. It allowed us to focus on the core values and the principles we always preach about. Everybody says, ‘we take care of people’. When your business drops 85% overnight and you know that you are not making a lot of layoffs, you focus your efforts on investing in the team. It was hard, especially not knowing what's going to happen day-to-day, week-to-week, hour by hour is just kind of made us all closer. We follow those core values, and we follow our mission, and we all care about each other and it's just, well, that's kind of been the biggest story for us. We’re always looking through the lens of ‘hey, this is a challenge and how can we learn from it and make our company better as a result’.
How did you hear about the EFBC?
I believe Tasty has been involved with EFBC since the beginning, back when EFBC was at UIC, and was the Chicago Family Business Council. Tom Walter has always been associated with it. Tasty has always been a family-owned company, so I think that's what drew the Walter brothers to the organization originally. Once I stepped into some of these leadership roles after college that's when I got involved with EFBC. I was in charge of the sales team, so that was my first introduction to some of the educational programming. I was able to participate in the sales roundtables.
Why did you join, and what do you hope to gain from your membership?
In the past few years, as I have taken on this leadership role, I appreciate being able to understand and talk to other business leaders, and to have that support and that shared experience, which is critical because you know sometimes leaders feel alone. You have a lot of pressure because at the end of the day, I'm responsible for everything that happens under this roof, every employee and all their family members. I can lean on the members of EFBC, other leaders, without judgement. I appreciate the most the shared experience piece. There is no advice or how you should do things, rather there is the opportunity to listen to what works in other organizations so that our team can then take that back to our company and determine what would work best for us. Every organization is different, so just hearing those stories is invaluable.
I just try to continue to grow and to become a better leader and person. That is what I continue to look forward to in my membership. Educational programming really forces you to think. What can I take from this? How can I use this in our organization? Will this work for us? The community is also great. You have so many members. At any time, I can just pick up a phone and pick someone’s brain about something I am struggling with and it’s far less isolating, it’s that relationship piece that I highly value. I can surround myself with people that can help me, can hold me accountable.
Join us in welcoming Kornel to the EFBC community. Members can log in and connect with Kornel via the EFBC Member Directory.