President, Hotel & Restaurant Supply
Sometimes, the best thing to do for your business is to get out of the grind for a few days and talk to your peers about how they are handling common challenges. Those conversations can help you find ways to move your business forward and, once you return to the job, you’ll likely find yourself feeling energized and motivated to implement what you’ve learned.
For foodservice equipment dealers and distributors, the ideal place to have those conversations is the FEDA Annual Conference. Many times, I come to the conference with one or two main challenges on my mind, with a mission to get a variety of opinions from other dealers on how to problem-solve.
Beyond those types of conversations are the thought-provoking educational sessions the conference provides. This year’s conference theme, The Operator and Our Will to Win, is especially important to the way we do business in an increasingly competitive environment. Ultimately, operators are the ones who pay our bills and the reason we’re all in business. So, the better we understand their needs and challenges – and how to align ourselves to serve them – the more successful we will be.
The speakers and presenters at this year’s conference will be focused upon that idea: how we as an industry can do better for our operators. To realize those opportunities, we must look beyond the quarter or fiscal year ahead to anticipate how operators and their needs are changing. Keynote speakers Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell Division, and Robert Herjavec, investor and lead shark on Shark Tank, will cover how distributors can manage disruption and meet operator needs. Also of interest, Thursday’s general session will include a 2030 restaurant industry forecast panel, which will be moderated by FES magazine Editorial Director Joe Carbonara and featuring the National Restaurant Association’s top research expert, Hudson Riehle.
As we look ahead, we must also consider the people who will come after us. When I was younger, much of what I learned at the FEDA Annual Conference came from talking to folks who had been in the industry longer than I. As my career developed, I absorbed those lessons and put them to use. That’s why I’m excited FEDA continues to build its Young Industry Leaders presence at the conference. This year, we’ll include a Mentor Up Mentor Down breakfast that will connect CEOs with the emerging generation of talent in our industry, offering both an opportunity to expand their perspectives.
We all share a set of common challenges and it’s only by speaking with each other and sparking new ideas that we can hope to discover ways to strengthen our businesses and solidify the role of foodservice equipment distributors and dealers everywhere.