Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec Conference Keynote to Discuss the Skills Needed to Keep Pace with Change

The prevalence of e-commerce and speedy supply chains has opened more opportunities than ever. Distributors and dealers that were once confined to their local markets can now reach operators across the world. But as these barriers to business have broken down, new kinds of competitors have entered the market, creating disruption and challenging longstanding distributor-client relationships. To remain relevant, FEDA members must look inward and consider where they must improve, how to become more innovative and entrepreneurial, and what technology will help them pull their businesses up to the next level.

On the journey forward, knowing where to start is one of the most difficult steps. Friday’s keynote and general session will center on this question by diving into the data and tools distributors and dealers need to know as they pivot to the challenges of the coming years and solidify their Will to Win in this new environment.

Friday’s keynote speaker is Shark Tank celebrity Robert Herjavec. Shark Tank is the “critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy Award-winning entrepreneurial-themed reality show” that allows emerging industry entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the “sharks” – a panel of five business champions who built successful empires. If the sharks decide to invest in the entrepreneur’s business, they may bid against each other to be selected as an investor. The panel also guides the contestants to persuade any of the sharks to invest money in their idea. When more than one of the sharks decide they want a piece of the action, a bidding war can erupt, driving up the price of the investment. Most importantly, the sharks advise potential investees on the viability of their business models and markets.

Herjavec will continue the previous day’s discussion on foodservice operator needs, then move the audience to the next steps for how foodservice equipment dealers and manufacturers can leverage their experience, knowledge, and understanding of evolving tech trends to keep pace with operator and consumer change.

FEDA is also excited to announce as a Friday speaker Kelli Valade, president and CEO of TDn2K (Transforming Data into Knowledge.) TDn2K, through its People Report, tracks restaurant staffing levels, demographics, and turnover and provides a detailed compensation analysis. TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence provides metrics covering restaurant revenue, expense, and consumer data and weekly interactive reports with drill-down capability including industry benchmarks based on the latest operational results for over 31,000 restaurant units in six unique segments and reflects $72 billion in annual sales. To help restaurants keep up with the rapidly changing environment of online communication, TDn2K also offers White Box Social Intelligence, the restaurant industry’s first location-based social media listening tool to combine traditional engagement and measurement tools with operations, sales and competitive data analysis. All three products are under the umbrella of TDn2K.

During Friday’s General Session, Valade will highlight how new restaurant technology can work with foodservice equipment technology to serve operators at a higher level.

Valade also joins AutoQuotes CEO Jim Contardi and Welbilt Executive Vice President and COO Josef Matosevic to discuss how we can win as an industry by working together in an evolving global and digital marketplace. AutoQuotes delivers products and solutions for the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, including the industry’s most comprehensive catalog, configure, price, quote (CPQ), and design applications. Welbilt’s strong culture of innovation and continuous improvement has paved the way for the development of new technology that is helping operators compete.

Contardi will detail how AutoQuotes’ innovations are helping to advance the foodservice equipment industry by anticipating new operator and consumer technology trends. Matosevic, meanwhile, will describe Welbilt’s passion for developing industry-leading technology, including KitchenConnect and fitKitchen.  

Robert Herjavec

Robert Herjavec is a dynamic entrepreneur and leading Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank. Born in Eastern Europe, he arrived in North America on a boat with his parents after escaping communism in the former Yugoslavia. From delivering newspapers, and waiting tables, to launching a computer company from his basement, his drive to achieve has led him to the fulfillment of a better life for himself and his family. In 2003, Herjavec founded Herjavec Group and it quickly became one of North America’s fastest-growing technology companies. Today, Herjavec Group is recognized as a global cybersecurity operations leader specializing in managed security services, compliance and incident response for enterprise-level organizations. Herjavec’s motivational business advice has received millions of impressions through TV, print, radio, and digital media.

Kelli Valade

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” Aristotle’s wisdom has guided Kelli Valade’s career since the age of 16 when she landed her first restaurant job as a hostess. It was there Valade found the same hospitality, the same love of great food, and the same connection she’d experienced her entire childhood, cooking and eating Italian food around her grandmother’s kitchen table in New York.

Valade discovered early where her passion for life intersected with work. She was hooked; and she’s built a career living out that passion, working her way up through operations, then human resources, where she led HR, recruiting, and compensation for national chains such as TGI Friday’s and On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina.

Valade joined TDn2K as president and CEO in early 2019. Prior to TDn2K, she spent more than 20 years at Brinker International in various roles including leading human resources then serving as COO for Chili’s Grill & Bar. As the first female president in the brand’s history, she was responsible for over 80,000 team members and more than 1,600 restaurants in 31 countries and two territories. To give back to the industry, Valade has served on the boards of TDn2K, the Multicultural Food & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and currently serves on the board of Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF). A compelling and passionate keynote speaker, she frequently speaks to students and professionals across the industry, sharing best practices and lessons from her lifelong journey.

And the industry she loves, loves Valade back. Nation’s Restaurant News added her to its Top 50 Power List in 2017, The Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo gave her the Beacon Award in 2016 and Dallas Business Journal named her a Woman Worth Watching in 2013.

Jim Contardi

A 25-year veteran of the tech sector, Jim Contardi’s background includes leadership and executive positions in growth-oriented software and technology organizations including SAP, IBM, i2 Technologies, and First Data. He most recently served as CEO of Avitru LLC, a content and technology SaaS platform bringing together building product manufacturers, their distributors, and the architects and engineers that specify construction projects. At Avitru, Jim led a growth strategy that included an acquisition and expansion of product offerings, the transformation of legacy content to enable high-impact analytics, and the development of strategic partnerships to increase the value of the marketplace. His expertise includes sales, product management, and general management across an array of industry verticals.

Josef Matosevic

Before joining Welbilt, Josef Matosevic served as senior vice president of global operational excellence for The Manitowoc Company and executive vice president, global operations and purchasing, for Manitowoc Cranes. Earlier in his career, Matosevic served in various executive positions with Oshkosh Corporation, a designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty vehicles and vehicle bodies, including as that company’s executive vice president, global manufacturing operations. He previously served as vice president of global operations and COO at Wynnchurch Capital/Android Industries, a sub-assembler and sequencer of complex modules for automotive original equipment manufacturers.