From identifying new talent to dealing with shorter project lead times to managing customer and supply chain relationships, today's foodservice professionals face no shortage of challenges that can lead to many sleepless nights. So we at FE&S asked a handful of industry leaders to discuss the issues affecting their businesses and segments.

The responses were as varied as the segments these foodservice professionals represent but there was some common ground.

Hopefully, these responses will get you thinking about the challenges your company faces and spur some internal conversations about ways your organization can improve and better work with its customers and supply chain partners. We also hope this will give you a better idea about what concerns other members of the foodservice community.
And if you want to add to the conversation, feel free to email FE&S Editor Joe Carbonara (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and we will post the comments on our website.

Sabrina-CapannolaSabrina Capannola, Senior Project Manager
The World Bank, Washington, D.C.
President, Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management (SHFM)

All the opportunities for growth! Our market is bustling with innovation as corporate foodservice and workplace hospitality continue to merge. Staying on top of the game with the best, most cutting edge programs is an exciting challenge that our industry must embrace.

Joe-FerriJoe Ferri, President
Pecinka Ferri Associates, Little Falls, N.J.
President, Manufacturers Agents' Association for the Foodservice Industry (MAFSI)

The Rep business model — while being the envy of many — finds itself under fire. Put succinctly, our concerns revolve around fair compensation for our work product. Whether it is spec credits, big data, or territory boundaries, getting paid commensurately for the work we do every day is the single biggest thing keeping me up at night. Like all of our channel partners, we have families to feed and employees to pay. Fortunately, MAFSI continues to advocate for the things we do, why we do them, and why they matter.

brad-pierce-headshot-formal-largeBrad Pierce, President
Restaurant Equipment World, Orlando
President, Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA)

Dealers and factories need to work together to redefine their collective value proposition not only for the end user but for the foodservice industry at large. At present, the supply chain places too much emphasis on the buying or procurement side of our businesses. Sure, we talk a lot about the value of relationships but our actions show we place a greater emphasis on procurement strategies. Our businesses need to focus on adding value in other ways that strengthens our customer relationships and enhances everyone's profitability.

Joe-PierceJoe Pierce, President
Pierce Parts and Service, Macon, Ga.
President, Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA)

Determining how you maintain relationships with the manufacturers and make a profit. They continue to nibble at our bottom lines by offering extended warranties, consolidating parts distribution and offering other concessions that do not take the service agents into consideration. When they do this it erodes our revenues and makes it harder for service agents to provide quality service to operators. We have empathy for the manufacturers but you will eventually get to the point where the relationship is no longer profitable and that business model is no longer viable.

Taunton2William Taunton, FCSI
President, A.I. Gastrotec, Ltd.
President, FCSI – The Americas Division (FCSI)

Where do we find the right people to fit our company's needs? As foodservice consultants working in a vast region, we need people that understand Latin American cultures. No college or university prepares them for a career in our industry. We need to make younger people want to look for careers in our area. We need "engiarchidesops," people that are a little bit engineer, architect, designer and operator. All of the industry players need to come together to find a common ground to train our future industry leaders.

Laura-WatsonLaura Watson, System Director, Patient Support Services
Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City
President, Association for Healthcare Foodservice

Innovation. As a healthcare foodservice self-operator, I ask myself "Are we doing the right things in the best ways?" We must do more with less — create efficiencies, reduce labor costs. But we must also creatively improve the patient experience — by delivering caring, quality and culinary excellence with every meal we serve.

Whiteley MikeMike Whiteley, CFSP, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Hatco Corporation, Milwauke
President, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM)

Planning for the future keeps me up at night. Who will be our industry leaders 20 years from now? How do we recruit, develop and retain future leaders? How do we compete with high-tech, high-profile industries to ensure the best talent lands in foodservice? How do we develop corporate cultures built on innovation, leadership, empowerment, teamwork and fun?