Gilbert Aranza Sucks — And Is Also Awesome

The last time I heard Gilbert Aranza’s name, the DFW Airport board was terminating six of the concessionaire’s leases at the airport because of a dispute over back rent. The imbroglio was headed to court. Sounded like like he was a bad guy. Right?

That’s why I found the below press release a bit funny. Aranza’s Star Concessions was named the concessionaire of the year at the airport (for the fifth time in nine years). The award is based on reports from mystery shoppers who apparently have a finely tuned sense of irony.

DFW AIRPORT NAMES STAR CONCESSIONS FOOD AND BEVERAGE CONCESSIONAIRE OF THE YEAR FOR 5 TH YEAR (Dallas-December 9) DFW International Airport announced today that it named Star Concessions its food and beverage “Concessionaire of the Year,” the result of extensive surveys over the course of the entire year by Evaluation Systems for Personnel, Inc., an independent agency. Star Concessions, a Dallas-based company, won the prestigious award for the fifth time in the nine years DFW Airport has given the award.

“Our goal is to always provide the best customer service possible,” said Gilbert Aranza, founder and CEO of Star Concessions. “My employees and I go above and beyond because the airport’s mission is our mission. We’re committed to making DFW International Airport shine.”

Star Concessions is one of DFW’s 21 food and beverage operators, which collectively represent nearly all of the national and international food and beverage concessionaires in the world. DFW has used two different outside rating agencies over the years. Star Concessions has been recognized as the top provider by both companies.

Mystery shoppers were used by the current rating agency to rate concessionaires on a broad range of criteria, including cleanliness and overall appearance of the facility, whether they greet the customer, repeat the order to ensure correct fulfillment, properly give change and receipts with the transaction, and other criteria. Concessionaires must meet simultaneous goals of delighting a customer and maximizing the airport’s revenue. “We never cut expenses to maximize income,” said Aranza, “and we’re keenly aware that if we perform well, it lowers the airline operating costs because it lowers what airlines pay in rent.”

Aranza said, “DFW Airport is ranked in the top five international airports based on customer service and we believe we play a crucial role in setting that standard.” He noted that DFW Airport strives to be the number one-ranked airport internationally, and that the experience of the customer/passenger in the airport is a key factor in that ranking.

Star Concessions credits much of its success to its ongoing training program. “It’s our culture to do a good job,” noted Aranza. “It’s rare for a company that doesn’t have the resources of a giant, global company to pull off this level of service year after year. It happens because the entire leadership of our company preaches and lives customer service.”