State of the Association — Kevin Fink, CFSP

The following was presented by Kevin Fink, CFSP at the Annual Business Meeting, March 22, 2018.

Presenting the State of the Association speech is traditionally one of the last responsibilities you have as NAFEM president before passing the gavel.  It’s also one of the best, since it provides the opportunity to share with you, our members, exactly what the people you’ve elected have been doing on your behalf.

I am honored to stand before you today as one of your NAFEM board and officer volunteers. I first became actively involved with the association in 2001 and was elected to the Board in 2003.  As manufacturers, we’ve all seen a lot of change in the past 15 years, and one of my objectives when I began my two-year term was to ensure that NAFEM continued to adapt and improve to serve you better.  What an incredible experience it has been.

I am pleased to report that the state of our NAFEM association is strong and vibrant.  It continues to stay focused on its overall purpose – to provide leadership to improve the global foodservice experience.  Using the results of Member Needs Surveys, we’ve revisited and refined our strategic plan and brought it back to discuss and confirm with you during Town Hall meetings.

We’ve expanded our commitment to learning, and this conference is a great example of how far we have come.  The leadership teams of CFESA, FEDA, FCSI, MAFSI and NAFEM have collaborated to educate, inform, advocate, and network on behalf of our individual associations and collectively as an industry.  The opportunity was seized for CFESA, FEDA and NAFEM to join forces for this meeting.  First. Time. Ever. Historic 640+ participants for three days of listening and learning together. It’s a sign of the future, of a new generation of education, training and leadership development. It’s about working collectively to be the total solution providers to our customers.

Anticipating program and service growth, we’ve shored up our infrastructure, added to our headquarters team, and clarified roles and responsibilities. We feel confident that Alice, Charlie, Dawn, Deirdre, Genny, Marianne and Natalie can conquer just about anything.

We’ve expanded our reach with new and exciting partnerships – with the Culinary Institute of America, the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, and Sinclair College to forge a path for future generations to continue to drive our industry ever forward – with the talent, passion for the industry and entrepreneurial spirit that we’ll leave behind (and maybe, just maybe, provide a little coaching around).

We’ve empowered our rising executives in member companies – some 30 or so who are attending this meeting – to come together and collaborate – to train, learn and grow together, for their own professional development and fulfillment, and for the betterment of the industry.

Our board of directors – elected by you, committed to serving –  and our committee participants – many of you in this room who give of your time and talents to get our voices heard, to enhance our programs and services, to share best practices, and consistently challenge us as an organization and a board to stay in touch with the customer – our members. They keep us focused on driving a solid ROI to our members in everything we do.

Certainly, our Advocacy – our government relations and technical liaison committees researching and reviewing legislative and regulatory changes that impact how we do business has put NAFEM on the map for the past four years.  Unfortunately, it’s been necessary for our presence and our authority as the voice on how these issues impact commercial equipment and supplies manufacturing has needed to grow tremendously.  While nobody likes government interfering in our business – or increased regulation – we are dedicated as an industry to provide quality, safe products, and all we want to ensure is a level playing field around the world.  And, that increased interference – or noise in the space as some pundits would say – isn’t going away any time soon.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention The NAFEM Show.  It’s amazing how we can continue to create a world-class experience for our buyers and our sellers.  It truly is the showplace for the Americas.  Having been show chair in 2013, I didn’t think it could get any better – I mean, a huge tradeshow floor, Jimmy Buffet, no tuxedos, come on – and then there was 2017 – a 30% larger floor, thanks to all of you, increased attendance – it was Killer..sssssssss.

To those of you here for the first time because of this combined conference, stay involved. I guarantee you that you’ll get way more back than you’ll ever give, and the knowledge you gain and the relationships you build, are priceless.

To those of you who make the NAFEM Annual Meeting a priority – thank you for the knowledge sharing, the input, the feedback and the collaboration.  You’ve been generous teachers.

It has been an honor to have had the gavel in my hands for the past two years, and to serve you and this organization.

To my fellow officers and board members, your commitment to carry the gauntlet is inspiring, and my deepest thanks for your friendship, mentoring and kindness.

To Deirdre and the NAFEM staff, thank you for all of your expertise, creativity and hard work to make NAFEM as strong and successful as it is – and to make the Board, the Officers and the President look good.

Most importantly, I need to thank my incredible wife, Laurie, for her never-ending support and patience, especially during the past few years. She’s been my best friend, my staunchest supporter and a tremendous sounding board for over 30 years. As Winston Churchill said, “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”

In closing this State of the Association update, I want to assure you that the state of NAFEM is very strong, and we’re well positioned to continue getting even better.  Here’s to 2018 and beyond!

Thank you!