Few things are as inspiring as an all-American success story, and Deron Lichte’s is just that. With an early eye toward entrepreneurship, Deron left college after just two years and took a job as a general administrator at FWE / Food Warming Equipment Co. in Crystal Lake, Illinois, in the mid-1980s. What was intended as a pit stop on the road to San Jose, California, ultimately became a career-making decision, and in less than 10 years, Deron quickly ascended the ranks of the commercial foodservice equipment manufacturer. He was named Executive Vice President, then COO and, finally, owner, when he purchased FWE outright in 2005.

“I just really fell in love with the hospitality industry,” Deron explains. “From the beginning of life to the end, people have to eat, and that humanitarian side of what we do is so captivating.” From Super Bowl stadiums to your child's school, if you or your family has enjoyed a warm meal, there's a good chance it passed through FWE equipment, and Deron says, "I'm extremely proud of that."

An incredibly hard worker, Deron credits his work ethic and career success to a restless spirit and an early struggle with dyslexia. “I had to do 120% to keep up with everyone else who could do 90% or 100%,” he says, and that drive has carried over into every other aspect of his life.

Deron currently divides his time between Crystal Lake, IL, and the Nashville, TN, area, where he relocated FWE in 2013. After an opportunity fell through to purchase the Illinois building where the company previously operated, Deron was just weeks from signing a deal to move FWE to Texas when he took a fateful trip to Music City.

“As soon as I got to Nashville, I just fell in love,” Deron says, "and it's easily become my second home."

Deron is quick to note that Nashville’s business and political climate have been good to FWE. He has also shown his support for the local economy by spearheading new legislation that provides more favorable unemployment tax terms for new businesses moving to Tennessee, thus aiding the state’s recruitment efforts.

When he’s not spending time with his two teen-aged children, traveling or working, Deron enjoys supporting various philanthropic initiatives, particularly those that are focused on youth development. "FWE has had a very positive impact on local students offering them a clear career path that begins as a high school internship," Deron explains. "I'm so proud of these kids who have grown up to be part of the FWE family."

From The Journal