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A Quick Look at Supply Chain Issues in School Nutrition

Like in all industries, school nutrition directors are facing far-reaching supply chain issues that are impacting their abilities to serve students. In fact, according to the School Nutrition Association's 2021 Supply Chain Survey, more than 98 percent of districts and programs reported shortages or difficulty procuring menu items, supplies, packaging, and more.

Coupling this trend with current labor shortages (nearly 95 percent of respondents reported staff shortages as a major challenge) and financial hurdles (only half of the schools report reimbursement rates being sufficient for covering costs of service during the pandemic) lead to challenging times for school nutrition directors.

When there's a challenge, there's also an opportunity though. Here are several things school nutrition directors can consider to enhance service during a global supply chain shortage.


No matter what, school nutrition directors will continue to serve healthy meals to our students. That's what they do. And while scrambling to meet demands with current vendors might be a challenge, it's also an opportunity to search for new vendors who can help provide needed ingredients, supplies, or equipment. For staff, consider ways to ease the burdens on existing employees by streamlining processes or utilizing more efficient systems and equipment.


In many school districts, April and May are great times to start planning for upgrades to the 2022-23 school year. Consider new plans for cafeterias and serving lines now, and those upgrades can be demonstrated and installed in the early summer. This puts school nutrition directors on track for the first day of school later in the summer with ample time to make adjustments or to consider custom designs.


Challenging times are also the perfect times for making changes to how service is delivered. For so many districts across the country, moving meals outside or to the classroom has been a pivotal part of keeping kids as safe as possible, minimizing the risks of potential exposure during the pandemic. But serving breakfast to students in the classroom, for example, is also a great way to promote nutritional wellbeing after a global pandemic. With this, many schools are adopting mobile serving methods to deliver breakfast and lunch directly to students in the classroom.

Plan ahead with Lakeside and Multiteria to reduce or avoid supply chain delays altogether.

Lakeside can help you avoid the current supply chain shortages with systems manufactured right here in the U.S. From serving lines to mobile food carts, now is the time to start planning for the coming school year.

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The Top 2022 Trends for Hospitality and Catering

We’re only a few short weeks into the New Year, so it’s a great time to look ahead for the hospitality and catering industries, two segments that have been impacted by the last two years of challenges. But while 2020 and 2021 have been largely focused on ways to pivot to preserve relevance, 2022 will see a return to more pre-pandemic habits with weddings being a driving force.

According to Hospitality Net, hotels and catering businesses can expect a grand return to weddings as compared to previous years, with the number totaling more than 2.5 million. When comparing to previous years, 2021 saw a total of under 2 million, while The Washington Post reported that nearly half of all weddings were postponed in 2020.

The return of the wedding business is great news for caterers and hotels alike, and according to Hospitality Net, there are a few things to consider when developing packages to help entice guests and planners.


Make sure guidelines are in place as they relate to masking, distancing, and vaccinations. It’s also important to refine all booking and cancellation policies that could be impacted. In terms of the event itself, outside weddings rose in popularity during the pandemic, and this will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. Organizations that can handle this trend operationally will be better positioned for more business.


From mid-week weddings to the time of day in which weddings are held, it’s important to provide flexibility for today’s guests and planners. As mentioned above, flexibility can also mean where on the property weddings are held. Instead of inside the ballroom, providing access to the lawn is an important option. Likewise, weddings and events are more likely than ever to be smaller, so consider a reduced headcount as part of flexibility.


From the ingredients needed to create a great wedding menu to the equipment required to serve it, now is a great time to reach out to vendors and confirm any potential issues with the supply chain. Not only are labor and shipping interruptions causing delays, but some businesses may not have made it through the pandemic. To begin the year, it’s a great idea to confirm and shore up those relationships.

Are you prepared for the increase in weddings in 2022?

When reviewing the three areas of focus above, one way to prepare for the increase in weddings in 2022 is to ensure you’re prepared operationally. From the need to move wedding and reception locations across the property to the long lead times so many are facing in terms of foodservice equipment, consider upgrading serving solutions before the summer wedding rush is in full force.

Lakeside and our collection of brands provide mobile serving equipment for both food and beverage service, from carts to transfer food from the kitchen to the buffet line to mobile bars for cocktail hour to bussing carts for a quick dinner clean-up. We can also provide solutions with low lead times for operations needing mobile foodservice equipment sooner rather than later.

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Dissecting the Latest Healthcare Foodservice Trends

Dissecting the Latest Healthcare Foodservice Trends

From labor shortages to the impacts of Covid, it’s been a challenging few years for hospital foodservice directors. These hurdles were outlined in the latest version of the Foodservice Director’s healthcare foodservice survey, and there are some clear trends that emerged.


Much like other industries, staffing is a huge challenge for healthcare foodservice directors, particularly since staff sizes often consist of fewer than 10 employees. According to the 2021 survey, 39 percent of respondents report fewer than 10 workers with 75 percent reporting 25 or less. This can mean that staff is harder to replace, that staff’s headcount has potentially shrunk due to external circumstances, or both. Compare those data points with the beginning of the pandemic. Fifteen percent of respondents reported laying off or furloughing staff due to the pandemic.

The most important statistic, though, relates to the biggest challenges operators faced during the Covid pandemic, with 81 percent reporting staff shortages and illnesses as the biggest hurdle. Coming in second at 71 percent was difficulty in sourcing products.


As we just mentioned, 15 percent of healthcare foodservice directors reported the needed to lay off or furlough members of their teams. These were some of the unwanted circumstances from the early days of the pandemic, but what about now? The vaccine has created safer work environments, but what about those workers who opt out of vaccination? According to the Foodservice Director, 57 percent of healthcare foodservice operations did not require staff to be vaccinated, while 27 percent weren’t sure yet at the time of the survey, which was in March and April of last year.


One of the biggest challenges during Covid, especially in senior care communities, was to keep residents safe but also engaged. Mental health is such a critical component in senior care operations, so foodservice directors had to do whatever they could to help residents remain part of the community. The most popular method listed by survey respondents was mobile food carts, coming in at 76 percent. Other options included virtual events (59 percent) and virtual cooking classes (12 percent).

In terms of the community, 70 percent of healthcare foodservice directors said they worked with community partners during the pandemic. Individual volunteers from the community were the most widely reported at 57 percent, with local restaurants and local farmers coming in second and third at 52 percent and 28 percent respectively.


As we look back over the last two years, the survey data reveals a few other important trends. The first is that waste reduction and sustainability efforts were mostly paused during the course of the last few years, with 63 percent of respondents making that claim.

In terms of menu trends that are dictating future service, there are four important ones. Surprisingly, boosting immunity is the lowest at 23 percent with global cuisines and plant-based menu items emerging more popular at 32 percent and 34 percent. The most important menu trend for the future according to healthcare foodservice directors is portability, with 64 percent stating the importance of mobility in foodservice.


As we’ve seen, Covid and the subsequent fallouts have had major impacts in healthcare foodservice. From menu direction to patient engagement, one of the most important solutions is a successful mobile foodservice plan that keeps foods fresh and at ideal serving temperatures.

Lakeside and our team of brands can help you find solutions for successful mobile foodservice operations.

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Inclusive Workplaces: ADA Compliant Cashier Stations

Inclusive Workplaces: ADA Compliant Cashier Stations

Today, any business owner understands the need to ensure the business remains compliant with ADA requirements. One common thing to consider is getting a convenient cashier station with the required height. In this post, we'll help you discover the ADA standards for your business. Ensuring every individual has equal access is crucial for all businesses. But what is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act affects practically all businesses with 15 or more full-time employees. The company can be online-only, public websites, or brick-and-mortar stores. Generally, the idea for these compliance rules is to ensure all public accommodations are accessible to all members of the public.

When it comes to retail and foodservice, countertops are a big consideration, as cashier counters should be long, wide, and short enough to allow employees and customers with disabilities to gain access to goods and services. It is common to find high sales and service counters that people in wheelchairs cannot reach. Therefore, modifying them to match the required standards is important.

ADA-compliant cashier stations need to be 36 inches wide and high to accommodate all shoppers and persons with disabilities. From a forward perspective, leave 12 inches of knee space below the counter to ensure anyone in it is comfortable and has easy mobility.

Equally important, locate the cashier counter in an area with a clear room with abundant space. The room space for the cashier counter should measure at least 30 inches by 48 inches. The clear floor allows for the free movement of wheelchairs and large appliances. There should be no clutter or obstructions that can present any danger in an accident.

Why Is ADA Compliance Important?

There are many reasons why a business should be ADA compliant. The top ones are:

  • The ADA is the law: the ADA is a law at the federal level and helps protect everyone with disabilities against discrimination. It helps to monitor businesses as they should comply with the typical requirements of accessible design, which means as long as you are operating a business in the US, the standards apply to you
  • You will gain and retain customers. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, one person in every five you meet has a form of disability. Thus, you will likely have some people with disabilities among your target customers.
  • Word of mouth advertising: Generally, the disability community is often tight-knit and sticks together. They are likely to encourage others to become your customers when you deliver exceptional customer service.
  • Tax write-offs and financial assistance: ADA creates standards and resources that help meet compliance goals. Being ADA compliant increases your chances of financial assistance and lowers the possibility of ADA violation.
  • It's the right thing to do. Doing whatever you can do to help a wider segment of the population is just a nice and kind way to act.

What Can Happen If A Business Is Not In Compliance?

Understanding the consequences of not complying with ADA rules will enable you to avoid penalties. They include:

  • It attracts huge fines. According to federal laws, a non-compliant business may pay up to $75,000 in fines for the first violation. Any additional ADA violations may go up to $150,000. These are direct penalties that you need to avoid by ensuring your business is ADA-approved.
  • Lawsuits by people with disabilities: If you don't offer adequate public accommodation, you expose your business to lawsuits, civil penalties, or personal injury issues from customers or employees.
  • Damage to your business reputation: This is perhaps the most financially damaging consequence if your business is not ADA compliant. You will lose reputation among your potential customers, meaning low sales and fewer customers.

It is essential to remain ADA compliant and serve your customers effectively. Here are Multiteria's ADA-compliant cashier stations that you can purchase today for your business.

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Strengthen Your Mobile Foodservice Operation with These Three Tips

Strengthen Your Mobile Foodservice Operation with These Three Tips

To run a successful mobile foodservice operation, you need to ask the right questions and select the right elements to boost your sales. Customer demands keep changing, and having the ability to move points of service can be rewarding for both customers and operators alike, especially if done correctly.

These are the top three tips to consider when building a successful mobile foodservice operation.

What Is Being Served?

The type of meals being served will almost certainly dictate how those meals are served -- and what's required to serve them. To start, it's critical to think about menu development as an overall objective of the operation, as well as how the menu will be received by customers. Both are important and will impact mobile foodservice strategies. Consider if you will require cold or hot food, from a cashier's station, or have ready-made meals.

  • Customers are more educated and have preferences. We live in an era where the customer is highly educated on food choices and preferences. Whether it's an exotic cuisine type or what constitutes healthy choices, today's diners know the difference.
  • Customers have technology. With mobile applications, the technological influence of foodservice goes well beyond delivery service. Technology is even impacting on-premise dining, as well, an this impacts menus.
  • There is no magic formula. A menu that's successful one year might lose favor in another. Menu development and the equipment used to serve it should be fluid and changeable.

Where Is It Being Served?

Mobile equipment is designed to move around a room or a property. It's important that serving equipment can stand up to whatever challenges are in the way, whether literally or figuratively. Make sure units can stand up to the rigors of transportation, and also make sure units can fit through any doors. Other location considerations are:

  • Can locations be moved to high-traffic areas with easy accessibility?
  • Is there enough space for equipment?
  • What type of flooring will units traverse?

What Does It Look Like?

Whether it's a high school cafeteria or a banquet buffet in a beautiful ballroom, aesthetics matter. Considering things like color pallets, trim options, and customer wraps will help enable a harmonious appearance in the operation. This will also help boost branding. Consider the following questions when determining what mobile foodservice equipment should look like:

  • Is there an overall aesthetic or appearance that needs to be considered?
  • Can mobile serving equipment help underscore the goals of the brand?
  • Does the service area need customized décor options?

Lakeside has a wide selection of Utility Carts that allow you to find the perfect solution for your mobile foodservice operations. Contact us today to discover the perfect cart for your facility.

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Hot Debate: Which is Better, Heated or Non Heated Plate Dispensers?

Hot Debate: Which is Better, Heated or Non-Heated Plate Dispensers?

To heat or not to heat. That's often the question foodservice operators face when they're looking to build out banquet serving lines, upgrade corporate cafeterias, or even enhance school foodservice capabilities in K-12 settings or on college campuses. And the debate is whether to offer plates that are heated or dispense them from a non-heated plate dispenser at ambient temperatures.

So, when should you use a heated plate dispenser? There are a handful of reasons that make the most sense as it relates to using a heated plate dispenser versus a non-heated option, and we'll walk through those one-by-one now.

Are you serving hot food?

Think about your own, personal dining experiences when plate dispensing was involved. Unless you're going to the salad bar, grabbing a cold plate and filling it with hot meats and vegetables can decrease the perception of the service. Research shows that using a heated plate dispenser can help elevate that perception, while at the same time keeping warm foods at temperatures that are more desirable for diners. Simply put, if you're serving hot foods, you probably don't want to serve them on ice-cold plates.

Are you serving food in a cold environment? 

Sometimes the ambient room temperatures might be cold or potentially unstable, which can then impact the temperatures of food being served. Serving lines might also exist in outside areas or spaces exposed to the elements. By using a heated plate dispenser, the potential for external temperatures to impact the temperature of foodservice is diminished.

Are you looking to save costs?

As you might expect, heated plate dispensers costs more than those without heating elements and the ability to warm china. That being said, saving on plate dispensers could actually wind up costing more if food quality or safety leads to food waste. If there's any potential for serving warm foods or serving foods when external temperatures could impact service, it's almost always advisable to choose a plate dispenser with heating elements. If plates will be used only for cold food service such as salad bars, an operation could probably get away with using a non-heated plate dispenser.

Plate Dispensers: Other Considerations

Plate dispenser options can also include mobile or countertop units. Moveable food dispensers are more ideal for buffets because they can be transferred quickly to any space. Countertop dispensers are more ideal for cafeterias and restaurants as they tend to be more stationary.

Adjust-A-Fit dispensers allow for multiple plate sizes to be dispensed from the unit. Need one side for salad plates and one side for hot food dishes? No problem! Adjust-A-Fit heated double-wall cabinets allow you to adjust the height and the temperature for both dispenser tubes individually. The easy, non-stick glide design ensures smooth dispensing of your bowl or plate of choice.

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Dishing Out Advice: How to Select a Plate Dispenser

Blog image with blue background and stacks of white plates in foreground

Plate dispensers are a critical component in a wide range of foodservice types. From hospitals and healthcare to hospitality and banquets, providing access to plating and tabletop can keep operations running smoothly for staff members.

So what’s an easy and effective way to distribute plates? A plate dispenser. And what are the most important things to look for and consider when choosing a plate dispenser? Let’s go through those factors one by one.

1.) Where are the plates dispensed?

This is a matter of mobility. Will plates be dispensed from a single location or will there be the need to move the plate dispenser around? For buffet lines in a banquet hall, for example, a mobile unit might be best as the serving line will likely change depending on the service. For cafeteria settings, a countertop stationary unit will likely meet challenges. To move or not to move, that is the first question.

2.) Is there a need for heat?

Hot food shouldn't be offset by chilled plates. Some plate dispensers include a heating element that keeps plates warm before they’re used in service. This is ideal when hot food is served or when there will be issues with temperature maintenance.

3.) What size plates will the unit hold?

When operators want flexibility with plate dispensing capabilities, it might make sense to consider units that provide for adjustable sizes. For example, if service includes both a salad and an entrée course, a plate dispenser that adjusts for both 7-inch plates and 10-inch plates can help provide much-needed versatility. What if china isn’t purchased yet or there’s a chance it could change in the future? Adjustable sizing can help in these situations, too. Likewise, standard dispensers are ideal when exact diameters are known or when china will remain consistent throughout the life of the unit.

4.) Does size matter?

It certainly does. Check with china manufacturers to determine variance to ensure a proper fit inside the plate dispenser unit. To calculate capacity, stack plates and compare with the capacity of the dispenser.

Looking for more information on plate dispensers to meet your unique challenges? Talk with an expert at Lakeside.

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The Best Tray Delivery Cart for Every Size Medical Facility

Woman in hospital bed smiling at nurse and holding meal tray

The Best Tray Delivery Carts for Every Size Medical Facility

Foodservice in hospitals and healthcare facilities is one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of patient care. It’s important because it so closely ties to patient wellbeing and the financial wellbeing of the facility, and it’s overlooked because… well, we’re not quite sure.

The reality is delivering food and nourishment from the kitchen to the patients is a critical component to the overall success of a healthcare foodservice operation and selecting the right tray delivery cart can make a huge difference.

Here are five important areas to consider when purchasing a meal delivery cart for your hospital.


The people served in hospitals are there for a reason. There’s no need to give them an illness caused by foodborne pathogens. Yes, when it comes to delivering meals from the kitchen to the bedside, safety comes first. Food should be held at proper temperatures, and when it is, there’s a high probability those foods will also retain their desired, nourishing qualities that are so important for patient recovery. So, yes, safety comes first, but the byproduct can also be wellness.


Similar to safety, when food is held in the ideal storage conditions as it moves from point A to point B, there’s a better chance those foods will retain their desired qualities. Why is this important? Patient satisfaction. And patient satisfaction ratings play a key role in the reimbursement rates a hospital receives. What’s one of the biggest contributors to high or low patient satisfaction ratings? The quality of the food. Well-made tray delivery carts will help foods maintain temperature, contributing to safety, wellness, and quality.


The key word in “tray delivery cart” is delivery. Moving a collection of meals from the kitchen to patient floors is the goal, and that requires maneuverability and mobility. How far away do meals travel? How narrow are the hallways or turns? Over what type of surfaces will carts roll? These are all important questions, and with a food delivery cart designed for handling and equipped with high-end casters, maneuverability will be made easier.


The flip side of the maneuverability coin is durability. Even for the best-handling food tray carts, there are still likely to be times when carts bang against walls, crash into closing doors, or roll across hard surfaces that will shake and rattle the cart’s construction down to the core. This is when design and craftsmanship become important in order to extend the life of the equipment.


Lastly, healthcare foodservice operators must consider volume. The right cart will most certainly vary from hospital to hospital based on the number of patients served, how long the runs from the kitchen to the bedside, and in some cases, even what is being served. Quantities are key, as having a tray delivery cart capacity that’s much lower than the volume served will result in additional trips and overstretched labor.

Find the tray delivery cart that’s right for your hospital foodservice program.

The team at Lakeside specialize in food delivery systems for hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities. Schedule a free healthcare foodservice equipment assessment with one of our experts today, and find the right tray delivery cart that meets your unique set of challenges.

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6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Foodservice Cart

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Foodservice Cart

The right foodservice cart can be a huge asset for any type of foodservice establishment. While different types of operations will certainly have different sets of challenges and solutions, as a general best practice, it’s important to ask a series of questions before determining which cart is right.

Let’s go through them one by one.

What are you serving?

The first question to ask is what’s on the menu? This will have a huge impact on the type and capabilities of the foodservice cart needed to execute successful service. Things to consider are the need for refrigerated merchandising, warming, or even a potential menu board. Will grab-n-go food and beverages be available? What you’re serving will impact how it’s served. Volume is also important. This will potentially impact the size of the serving station and features like shelving and storage. Lakeside has a wide variety of utility carts with different weight capacities that can be used in various operations offering the perfect solution.

Where are you serving it?

A foodservice cart can be stationary, or it can be mobile. If you’re looking for versatility through mobility, a traditional serving line or a permanent kiosk won’t work. Decide whether or not you want to move the point of service around the property or the establishment, and then select serving carts that support those goals. Consider the space and terrain, as well. If the cart will be used in a hilly area with inclines, it might be appropriate to consider a motorized cart with brakes.

Who are you serving it to?

This is where the type of operation enters the equation. Are you serving coffee to staff and guests in a local hospital? Students on a college campus? Sandwiches outside a hotel conference room? No matter how you look at it, the customer will always dictate how food and beverages are distributed, which will impact the selection of a foodservice cart.

What should the cart look like?

Appearance and aesthetics tie into the type of operation and the end customers, too. If a serving solution is located in a fancy ballroom, the expectation is that it should have a certain elevated appeal that matches the décor of space. If it’s a coffee cart in a local high school, it should have a more spirited, durable appearance. Yes, we first eat and drink with our eyes, but in most cases, before we get to look at the food, our first impression is of where the food is being served. With Lakeside's wide selection of utility carts, you'll be sure to find the perfect cart for your operations.

While different types of operations will certainly have different sets of challenges and solutions, as a general best practice, it’s important to ask a series of questions before determining which cart is right.

Who is staffing it?

We’re in the midst of a national labor shortage in just about every type of industry. Foodservice has been one of the hardest hit. Now more than ever, when selecting a food and beverage serving cart, it’s also important to consider staff. Questions to ask are: How easy is it to clean a unit? Is maintenance difficult? Is it easy to transport the station across the property? Essentially, usability is a key component when selecting a foodservice cart.

How durable does your foodservice cart need to be?

Every cart should be well-made and durable, but on a deeper level, how rigorous will its usage be? For example, does the type of material matter? Would steel be better than rubber? Should the cart have bumpers because it’s being maneuvered in high-trafficked areas with lots of obstacles. Select a foodservice cart for durability if it will be subjected to severe usage.

Now that you have your answers, what do they mean?

The first step is to consider and compile answers from the questions above, as they will dictate the type of foodservice cart you need. The harder part can be interpreting those answers. That’s where the team at Lakeside and our family of brands can help. Schedule some time with us to go over these six considerations, and we can help you locate the foodservice cart that makes the most sense for your desired goals.

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Casters 101: Everything You Need to Go

Casters 101: Everything You Need to Go And equipment that doesn’t have solid, durable casters might not be capable of reaching those far-off locations to achieve mobile service.

If we all agree that mobility and versatility are desired benefits in a foodservice operation, we can also agree that it’s casters that can help make everything go as it relates to mobile foodservice.

In most cases, whether it’s a mobile serving cart or a tray rack, the casters are the only things that are grounded, so it’s important to make sure the journey is as easy as possible.

Before we get into the details on casters, we need to consider the challenges presented when using mobile foodservice equipment.

Depending on the type of operation, units might need to be moved all the way across a property or even a college campus. There could be a combination of gravel paths, bumpy sidewalks, and even grass to navigate. And equipment that doesn’t have solid, durable casters might not be capable of reaching those far-off locations to achieve mobile service.

Let’s take a look at the different things to consider when looking for mobile foodservice equipment that gains its ability to go from casters.


Casters can be made of different materials, and each has its own unique set of benefits. Some are better for rolling on carpeted surfaces, while others are better for outdoor applications. If the goal is to move serving carts outside on sidewalks or driveways, fully pneumatic casters with treads are the best option. Semi-pneumatic casters are great for carpeted surfaces, while hard rubber casters are great for staying within a kitchen. For the best versatility, polyurethane casters are typically the best option.


The next question is size. How big should casters be? The most common size of foodservice caster is five inches, but as a rule of thumb, the heavier the equipment being moved, the larger the caster. When casters are larger, it makes moving them easier, especially for heavy loads.


While some smaller foodservice equipment and supplies such as mop buckets might have plastic bearings, heavy-duty equipment like serving stations and tray racks should have heavy-duty, metal ball bearings for adding durability.


For equipment that is being steered across a room or even across the property, it’s highly recommended that at least two of the casters have swivel capabilities to make movement easier. Steering a unit with four fixed wheels is nearly impossible, so using swivel casters makes tight turns a lot easier.


Brakes or stops are a great way to prevent accidents and keep units locked down in a single location. Especially when units are large and heavy, having the ability to slow them down when descending a hill, or being able to lock them in place once service begins, can be a great benefit. Brakes help.

Learn more about casters from an expert at Lakeside.

Book time with one of our representatives today and discover why we use heavy-duty casters on all of our equipment to ensure longevity and durability.