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Corporate AVI and Kenyon’s Administration

Kenyon’s dining service is provided by AVI, a family-owned food service based in Warren, Ohio. We are lucky to work with AVI because they are a smaller company with ties to the state’s economy, so they are more cooperative with our local food effort than a national food service provider might be. AVI has a 10%-local policy for all its accounts, so the concept of a local food program is already part of their business model. Kenyon’s program just operates on a larger scale. AVI appreciates working with Kenyon, both because our local food program is great for their marketing efforts, and because Kenyon is a well-run and profitable account.

Damon Remillard is AVI’s director-in residence at Kenyon. His responsibilities are very broad: he oversees operations here, works on long-term and development goals, and serves as the contact to both corporate and the college. Remillard works closely with our Chief Business Officer, Mark Kohlman, to negotiate the budget and other concerns, as well as working directly with student groups such as the Housing and Dining Committee. Remillard is very supportive of our local food program because it allows AVI to provide fresher, healthier food to students. He also works with both Marsh and Worth-Cappell on the program’s operation.

Remillard’s oversight involves balancing the quality, origin, and cost of food. In other words, he works with both Marsh and Worth-Cappell to ensure that we are getting high-quality food from local sources, at a price that is reasonable considering the other two criteria. While he is invested in the ideals of local food, he must also make sure that the local products will be competitively priced: “If we’re not making money, we won’t be viable—we won’t be here.”[1] In spite of financial concerns, Remillard tries to help realize as many local options as he can, by compromising or adjusting the terms on which we acquire a particular item. He and Marsh meet regularly to discuss new opportunities and negotiate ways to expand the program, without overreaching on budget or logistics.

Remillard also works closely with Kenyon’s administration. He meets weekly with Mark Kohlman, the chief business officer, and the two of them work together to set goals for the program and to make sure that those goals are met. Remillard represents the interests of AVI in these meetings; Kohlman, those of the college. The program must have support from all sides: the requests and involvement of faculty and students promote it from the bottom up, and the oversight of college administration and trustees, and from AVI’s corporate office, supports it from the top down.

[1] Interview with Damon Remillard, Gambier, Ohio, September 9, 2011.

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