President’s message — winter 2018

2018 a year of unanticipated business volatility

Every year brings with it new events and issues for each of us to understand, respond, and develop new strategies that support future growth.

2018 was different. We can now add events and issues like Prop 65, Tariff 232, Tariff 301, SNAP, CARB, trade war, spiraling healthcare costs, stock market volatility, and double-digit, raw-material-cost inflation, just to name a few,  to the many things we have faced and overcome. When 2018 started, most of us did not foresee much of this in our forecasting windshield and yet each of us and our teams are successfully navigating our businesses through all of them.

One thing is certain — we can count on a new round of issues in 2019 that will impact our business and create challenges with many underlying opportunities. NAFEM’s role thru the volatility, beyond what will be “the best NAFEM show ever” in February, is to continue to help gather, support and advocate with the information we provide to you, so that you and your leadership team better understand the important issues affecting your business.  Hopefully, each year, we grow in our ability to provide these services to you.

As we close NAFEM’s 70th year, change was at the forefront just as it was 70 years ago. Then, and now, our staff, board and volunteer committee members work to keep member and stakeholder value creation at the forefront of our decision-making. Working together in service to improve our industry by doing the things that are more efficient to do as a whole than any one of us can do individually remains the focus of your NAFEM board and leadership team.

A few strategic initiatives that continue to evolve, improve or begin as we enter 2019:

  • The NAFEM Show! Our largest and best ever — focuses on making new connections by improving our networking and sharing real-life examples of how our equipment and supplies solutions have made a major impact on efficiency or performance for our customers’ operations, while enhancing and changing the dining experience for both non-commercial and commercial operators.
  • Regulatory and trade burdens are being addressed through our Advocacy efforts. The mid-terms did nothing to quell the increase of legislative and regulatory changes that continue to add challenges to manufacturing industries worldwide.  Tariff’s? Where did that come from?  Trade agreements?  On, expanded, doubled down, no end anytime soon?  Additional regulatory challenges with air, water and waste coming?  Already upon us.  What you can count on is that NAFEM is there – and has a seat at the table with a bigger national profile in Washington, D.C. more than ever advocating for members. We are engaging members and combining with other like-minded associations in advocating around these key issues while keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening.
  • Talent recruitment, retention and training. We’ve made some major strides this year in getting resources in place for our members.  We’ve started our pilot internship program with Sinclair College in Ohio with many supportive members, and developed a tool kit to deploy to other members after the show on how you can tap into the wealth of talent in your area.
  • Our state of the art Learning Management System (LMS) goes live January 2 and will allow your associates to tap into industry-relevant online learning. Both the community college internship toolkit and the LMS are constantly changing – with new information added monthly.  And, more workforce development resources will be added to the website throughout 2019.
  • Data availability. We’re ramping up new robust data resources for you next year.  We’ve partnered with ITR a nationally recognized economic forecasting firm in New Hampshire to supply NAFEM members with a quarterly economic forecast at the macro and industry level to help you and your team better plan and prepare for economic changes. Additionally, we’re partnering with the Managed Resources Association (MRA) plugging into their national database to revamp and improve our Wage and Benefit survey. The new tool will provide market wage data for all markets in the country covering hundreds of job descriptions both salaried and hourly information annually.  Providing members access to data – to help with business, personnel, capital investment and long-term planning decisions, we trust you will find is a great value to your membership beyond just the show.
  • Member Engagement. Expect to see NAFEM hit the road again in the summer and fall to keep members updated on new and existing programs and services, and to get your feedback on how NAFEM can be of value to you.  We want to hear about the issues impacting you, and more importantly, engage you in discussion on our industry and how our association can serve you better. The board and staff also will be leading a new expanded effort to engage deeper with the key channel and customer operator associations to exchange relevant industry issues and improve NAFEM’s profile and value with each of them. This expands our efforts that began several years ago with our channel partners that continues to progress collaboratively.

It’s been a productive 2018, and NAFEM is truly postured to grow and advance our industry in the year ahead.  Thank you for all you do providing the support to keep our organization relevant, progressive, respected and ever-changing. Our NAFEM staff, board, Trade Show Advisory Council (TSAC),  all our volunteer committee members have advanced on many initiatives this year and deserve a big THANK YOU for their dedicated service.

All the best from all of us as we join with family and friends for the holidays and the new year!

See you in Orlando at the Best Show Ever!

Joe Carlson, CFSP
President, Lakeside Manufacturing, Inc.