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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Our Partnerships – More Important Than Ever
Partner. Stakeholder. Collaborator. Associate. Colleague. Friend.

Never before has these words meant more than they currently do to our association, channel and customers. Our partnerships – our commitment to our stakeholders, collaborators, associates, colleagues and industry friends – have never been more important than they are today.

Partnerships are key today, but more importantly, they are critical for tomorrow. Here are just a couple of ways our partnerships are exposing all of us – NAFEM members – to new opportunities, new ideas and new relationships.

As you know, NAFEM has been working closely with the founders of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) to make this dream a reality. Our extended collaboration is just beginning. NAFEM, as previously reported, is working with the design and academic teams to support the kitchens in this new, state-of-the-art facility. We’ve helped NOCHI through our partnership with Chef Brad Barnes, The Culinary Institute of America’s head of consulting and the NAFEM professor at CIA. Chef Brad has spent significant time consulting with the NOCHI architectural and design teams, and NOCHI’s Executive Director, Carol Markovitz. These teams are turning the former Louisiana Art Works building, located in downtown New Orleans, into a world class center for culinary and hospitality academic excellence. Culinary, hospitality, business entrepreneurship and food enthusiast programs will all be conducted and administrated in this facility. This project offers NAFEM members the opportunity for great exposure – not only to showcase our products to our customers, but also to develop future talent and thought-leaders. And, there’s great event space there for us to use, too. I foresee an annual meeting and management workshop and many NAFEM show events hosted there in the future.

As noted in previous columns, collaboration with key channel partners – FEDA, CFESA, MAFSI and FCSI – has never been stronger. Call it an aligning of the planets, call it timing, call it whatever you want, but we’ve all definitely put our partnership hats on to deliver a unique, yet complementary program or service to our members and the industry at-large. In the last 18 months NAFEM has managed to partner and or support key channel partners in a number of key initiatives:
  • Developed a campaign to attract and retain talent to our industry (NAFEM)
  • Developed and implemented the FEDA Data Interchange (FEDA)
  • Reading SPECPATH (MAFSI) for an end-of-year launch
  • Opened a beautiful, top-notch, worldwide training center (CFESA)
  • Hosted record-breaking educational programs (FCSI)
This is huge. You all know from your own operations that any technology implementation – whether it’s an update to current systems or a complete change – takes twice the time and four times the money (at least) to do. When the stars align and everyone collaborates, it can be record breaking. To accomplish what FEDA has accomplished with FDI in 12 months, and what MAFSI will unveil after two years of planning and development is truly outstanding. CFESA has managed to find, buy, renovate, design and equip a state-of-the-art facility for technician training, and for use by industry for training sessions, meetings, and more, again, before the two-year mark is up. And, FCSI has proven if you build it – an educational program that gets the industry talking, innovating and advancing - well, then they will come. Record-breaking attendance at its conference during The NAFEM Show was the icing on the cake.

NAFEM’s collaborative efforts now extend beyond our borders. In October, prior to the opening of the HOST exhibition in Milan, I have the opportunity to meet with our industry’s global association leaders, to share information and look for opportunities to support each other and the industry worldwide. Representatives from Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom, plan to participate. Having had the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues at CESA (UK) and NAFES (Australia) for the past 18 months to plan this event, I’m really looking forward to the dialogue. We all face the same issues – finding and retaining talent, regulatory creep into our business, variations in standards that hinder collaboration and free trade, ongoing education --and more. Working together we can progress faster and more efficiently. That is the continued focus of our global collaboration.

While partnerships are meant to produce tangible results, I don’t want to dismiss the collaborative and collegial side of these relationships. Collaboration also means talking and listening regularly – sharing information and having a spirited dialogue. Sometimes one or two ideas stick, sometimes ideas may only be a distant dream. What truly matters is that we are getting together, learning more from our colleagues, associates and industry friends. I believe this is the true essence of how we make a difference in all that we do. It’s where great ideas get nurtured and grown. It’s how our industry moves forward.

I encourage you to look around you at your partnerships – with colleagues, collaborators, stakeholders, associates and industry friends – and working together - appreciate and realize what is and what can be!

Michael Whiteley, CFSP
Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Hatco Corporation
Milwaukee, Wisc.