NAFEM President Lays Out New Philosophy

In February of this year I began to serve a two-year term as president of NAFEM — the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers. To prepare for my term as NAFEM president, I did a lot of research to make the most effective and efficient use of our association's time and resources. I want to ensure the future success of our association and help keep moving the industry forward. At the end of my research, I was reminded that foodservice professionals from all industry segments continue to share many of the same challenges and objectives.

Mike-WhiteleyMichael L. Whiteley, CFSPFor example, industry relations and channel efficiency represent a significant issue that affects us all, operators included. Our industry has not maximized the potential benefit of a focused and healthy distribution channel. There are issues within our channel that need to be ironed out. There are inefficiencies in how we do business. At times there is a lack of trust between partners. Some channel entities continue to work on separate agendas rather than a unified, mutually beneficial agenda. As an organization, NAFEM must remain diligent about improving relationships within our channel. We must reach out to our partners and propose a unified agenda, one that benefits us all. And the other industry organizations should consider a similar path.

I don't know how successful our efforts will be but I do know that a renewed effort is necessary and we will all benefit from it. Manufacturers, dealers, reps, consultants and service agents must all move closer to full alignment in order for this industry to continue to grow and succeed.

In addition, all foodservice companies must seek new ways to recruit and retain talent. The next time you attend a conference, look around the room and you will notice our industry is aging. We all know what a struggle it is to attract young people to work in certain parts of our industry. We must compete with high-tech industries that young professionals perceive to be more interesting. Most young professionals want to work for Apple, Google, Yahoo!, eBay or companies they perceive to be forward thinking with a hip corporate culture. Sadly, it surprises some of us when we talk to a young professional who expresses a strong interest in selling pop-up toasters or managing a fab shop in a remote industrial park.

We must find new ways to promote our industry as a viable and enjoyable career path. This industry offers many rewarding relationships and experiences. Food is fun. Our challenge is to share our treasured secret with future generations. NAFEM is working on this effort and the amount of energy growing around this initiative is exciting. Hopefully, other industry organizations are addressing this, too.

Finally, as we look for ways to move forward in business, in industry and in life we need to make what we do fresher, more fun and more focused than ever before. Nobody said this has to be boring or old fashioned. To attract new talent, we need to break a few molds. We need to motivate change. Tell a joke today. Make someone smile. This is a fun industry — so start having more fun!


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