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In memoriam: Rick Caron, chief innovation officer, Welbilt

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“Big-picture thinker and innovator” Richard N. “Rick” Caron passed away on 2 September following a brief illness

Welbilt, Inc. has announced that Richard N. “Rick” Caron, executive vice president and chief innovation officer, passed away on 2 September following a brief non-Covid related illness.

Caron, 65, served served as Welbilt’s chief innovation officer since 2017, having joined Welbilt’s predecessor company Enodis in 2005. In his role, Caron led several new product development initiatives, which helped distinguish Welbilt as a technology leader in the foodservice industry.

Holding a M.S. and B.S. in Chemical Engineering Practice from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Caron was previously EVP, marketing and innovation for Manitowoc Foodservice and was named the company’s chief technology officer in 2005.

Caron held several patents in the foodservice industry, including automated frying and rapid cooking systems, as well as scores of other industry-leading pieces of equipment from Welbilt.

Energy and curiosity

“Rick was a mentor and leader who approached every day with boundless energy and curiosity. He was an industry titan who was the face of Welbilt. We have a huge hole in our hearts but his passion for innovation lives on in all of us. We will miss him dearly,” said William C Johnson, president/CEO, Welbilt, Inc.

“Personally, I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with Rick over the past several years,” said Kirk Goss, vice president consultant relations, Welbilt, Inc.

“He was a great man – a big-picture thinker and innovator. He always took time to listen and advise others on how to best solve a given issue. Rick’s influence on the foodservice industry will be long felt – and we are all better for it.”

Earlier this year, Caron had been a mainstay in every episode of FCSI’s Future-tech roundtable video series, supported by Welbilt, which showcased his insight, expertise and foresight in foodservice innovation and technology. Whether the topic was QSR and fast casual or the healthcare sector, workplace dining or educational foodservice, as well as broader topics such as sustainability or equipment innovation, Caron’s knowledge, passion and zest for a sector he clearly adored was always apparent and undimmed.

The industry will mourn his passing, but honor his outstanding contribition.

Michael Jones