All segments of the foodservice industry like to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that is such a rich part of their history.

Operators fondly recall how they turned a passion for barbeque or spaghetti sauce into a budding multi-unit chain or their interest in nutrition into a career as a foodservice director. Foodservice design consultants enjoy telling the story about how they sketched out their first restaurants on the back of cocktail napkins. Foodservice equipment and supplies dealers romanticize how their companies got started out of the back of grandpa's trunk. And service agents like to recall how their business has grown from a single truck and a Gordon Gekko-style brick-sized cell phone into a fleet of vehicles that serves an entire state.

Make no mistake: It's wonderful for companies and individuals to embrace their roots. But it remains equally important to understand how you and your organization have evolved from generation to generation while constructing a vision of what will make you successful in the future. That's because despite the fact that many outside the industry continue to have an outdated view of foodservice, the community continues to evolve dramatically, requiring greater knowledge and enhanced skill sets.

Much like a circus performer, foodservice professionals must continually juggle the needs of their customers, company and ability to conform to the ever-changing local rules and regulations in order to achieve the awe-inspiring success everyone desires. As a result, most foodservice professionals need to supplement their experiential knowledge base with the latest updates in equipment and supplies, food safety, consumer trends and more. No matter your position in the foodservice industry, being good at your job requires an innate ability to keep all of your balls in the air at once. Dropping any one of them can mean the difference between success and failure.

So the only way to continue to perform at such an elite level is to commit to a lifetime of learning and staying current with your product knowledge. When it comes to solving problems, technology may be the "how" but having knowledge of the industry, your customer and more is what enables you to turn products or ideas into solutions.

To help make it a little easier for you to maintain your product knowledge, we proudly present FE&S' 2013 E&S Directory. This issue not only features a list of companies' contact information, we also outline who makes what in the product sources section.

Directories have long been a staple of business-to-business publishers like us but the reason we continue to produce ours is simple: you value it. So until you tell us otherwise, we will continue to produce it. And, if you are a little more technologically savvy and would rather access this information online, I invite you to visit our website — — where you can search our database of foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturers.