Robert Connelly, CFSP
Chairman and CEO, Henny Penny Corp.
It’s easy, and maybe even natural, to focus on everything the pandemic has disrupted and interrupted. It has been – and indeed still is – an undeniably transformational force in virtually every aspect of our lives.
Yet in a very practical sense, and based on what I’ve seen over the past 18 months, there is a consistent theme of hope and pride in how I feel and what I believe about our collective experience in the foodservice industry – whether we’re dealers, manufacturers or anything in between.
Perspective: Extensive Challenges = Exceptional Opportunities
As providers of foodservice equipment and supplies, members of the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers have been essential manufacturers throughout this pandemic. With the support of their channel partners, NAFEM members initially approached the pandemic by tackling urgent and critical challenges such as how to survive; how to get products into customers’ hands so they could pivot to a new way of doing business; how to keep employees safe; how to operate virtually; and how to generate operational continuity both within a business and to internal and external customers.
We adjusted to incredibly dynamic and quickly changing conditions on a state-by-state basis, staying as close as possible to customers who were tackling the same issues. Labor, or lack thereof, became a critical piece of our plans. Although the details of our challenges may vary based on our specific roles and functions in the industry, we are all inextricably linked and, therefore, all affected. Thankfully, our industry has always responded to any challenge with resolve and resilience.
So, what’s my perspective?
I am optimistic and confident in our ability to thrive. Despite the myriad of challenges we’ve faced and are still facing due to global supply chain issues (affecting parts availability, logistics timeframes, rising costs, etc.), there remains an incredible amount of opportunity. There is business to be had both now and in the future. I am optimistic we can capture the opportunity in front of us – not because I think our supply chain issues are going away any time soon but because of our industry’s proven resilience. We are better now and more equipped because of everything we have learned and accomplished in these most complex, challenging and unprecedented circumstances. It has been so encouraging to see our industry come together by building stronger relationships with more open communications and a customer-first mentality.
Together, through collaboration, creativity and tenacity we will find a way to capture the opportunity and thrive in the ‘20s!