During this year's Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA) convention I had the honor and privilege to pass the gavel to the next FEDA president. As this time approached, it was only natural for me to reflect on my two years as president of the association.
When I reflect on the difficult times that our industry, and in particular FSE distributors have been faced with, I am amazed by the fortitude and strength in our channel and the overall FEDA membership. The environment over the past two years has been fierce, taking its toll on top line sales, margins and overall profitability. Yet, our customers still have had the same value expectations they have come to depend on. Our membership has stepped up and become more strategic in all aspects of their businesses. Hard decisions have been made and continue to be executed as needed. We have analyzed our customer base, sacrificed and downsized to determine how to be more productive and profitable wherever possible.
It seems selling the value proposition and getting paid for it has been difficult at times, especially when, at least over the last few years, there seems to be no bottom to the sales price. Profit and margin are harder to protect than ever before. This is one of the reasons I have become supportive of manufacturers adopting MAP/MRP policies. As it stands today MAP and MRP assist manufacturers in protecting the integrity, image, and enhancement of their brand by ensuring that there are sufficient margins for distribution to promote their product. It assists the dealers in maintaining the integrity of their margins, and it helps us to be able to continue to provide value-added services that customers have come to expect, including a knowledgeable sales team, inventory, show rooms, delivery, design and conceptual kitchen concepts, and logistics, among others. MAP/MRP allows a dealer that understands the cost of doing business in this industry to compete with distributors that sell product at renegade prices. I hope to see going forward more manufacturers adopting these policies as well as functional discounting policies that also reward dealers for providing certain value-added services.
To be a part of FEDA means respect, strength, credibility and a belief that we are better because we are part of an organization that is healthy and strong. It is critical that an association add value to its membership and to the industry as a whole. FEDA is about dealer-based distribution advocacy, demonstrating the value-added proposition that dealers can provide to the supply chain and ensuring that customers and our channel partners understand the importance of the model. I continue to support FEDA's efforts in this area.
I have enjoyed these past two years and the wonderful entrepreneurial spirit of the FEDA membership. I relish that we all haven't become burdened with the idea that we can't because "we have never done that before" or "we don't do that here." I take pride when I see how our membership sets no boundaries, has been creative and steps up to the daily challenges to find success.
Spirit of Giving
I grew up in this industry and I feel connected to and rewarded by my years in the foodservice equipment industry. The greatest gifts one can give are the gifts of time, energy and intellectual capital. The opportunity to lead FEDA has been a great honor for me and a chance to teach my children about the spirit of giving, in this case to an important industry association. By having had this chance I am able to take away not only more friends but also having gained much knowledge. I am, by far, richer for this experience.