In 1938, Ken Russell made an important decision. He was 29 years old and had learned the sheet metal trade as an apprentice at Central Sheet Metal in Vancouver. He had experience in all aspects of the trade and had worked for a Vancouver shop that specialized in food equipment. This was work Ken excelled at and enjoyed. His approach was straight forward – “if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

Vancouver was a much smaller place then and those in the industry knew each other. One such person was Bill Quest, founder of Quest Metal Works. On more than one occasion, Bill asked Ken if he wanted to buy his shop. So in 1938, Ken bought Quest and transformed it.

When Ken acquired the company, Quest was producing a high quality brick and casting range that Bill Quest had designed. It was suitable for mining and logging camp kitchens, as well as restaurants. From experience, Ken knew there was nothing more basic than a range. As he always said, “it’s the heart of a kitchen.”

Just a few years after buying Quest, Ken Russell moved the shop to a larger space and expanded into other food equipment production. Then in 1944, he incorporated Russell Food Equipment to provide a wide range of products and quality services to Vancouver’s food service industry. From then on, customers would have a one-stop shop for all of their food service requirements (for more information on Russell Food Equipment, please visit http://www.russellhendrix.com).

While products and locations changed, the fundamental principle of doing a job right continued. Quest provided exceptional value – value in high quality products and timely service. That reputation spread and Quest grew. The product line expanded to include Quest designed broilers, fryers, grills, exhaust filters and the first Canadian designed automatic wash ventilator system, Quest ClearAir. By the mid-1950s, Quest had opened a factory in Winnipeg to be closer to customers in central and eastern Canada. In 1970, a second manufacturing facility was opened in Winnipeg to handle the increasing demand separating custom and standard manufacturing. Meanwhile, Russell Food Equipment was expanding right across the country, from Vancouver (est. 1944) to Halifax (est. 1978). In 1985, Quest and Russell Food Equipment opened their current head office, showroom and factory at Venables and Clark in Vancouver.

In 1938, Quest was a three person shop; today, Quest is over 100 strong in three plants and represented by RFE in 14 branches across Canada. At its core, Quest is still designing and completing installations that provide efficient workspaces and kitchen environments. It is delivering quality to the food service industry – large and small. But to do so, Quest has evolved as volumes and their clients’ needs and approaches have evolved. This means embracing new technology and adapting procedures. How else to ensure Ken Russell’s insistence that “if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right!”

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