Connelly takes the reins as NAFEM’s president

Rob Connelly, CFSP, CEO, Henny Penny Corporation, Eaton Ohio, officially took the reins as president at the NAFEM Annual Business Meeting, held at the InterContinental Hotel, during the Annual Meeting & Management Workshop in Miami. Below is his speech.

Rob Connelly

I am so honored — and excited to be your president. NAFEM is an amazing organization in an awesome industry.

Someone asked me recently — what is the biggest threat to your industry — And I said—

IF people stop eating….

So….Our future is bright!

And yet there are so many things happening in the world that WILL disrupt us, like EVERY industry has been or will be disrupted. But we are in a position of strength, and it should position us well to continue to thrive IF we embrace that the future will be much different and we need to be active to help define that, or if not leave our fortunes to HOPE we can fit in.

Each of us — be it our companies or NAFEM or ourselves — I think we all have the same path — the same journey we need to embrace.

It starts with fighting the status quo….all the time. The status quo is our enemy in disruptive time. We need to be curious; we need to be continual learning; we need to challenge all things; and we need to think differently.

And this is so hard to do when you are strong and successful. And for the most part each of us are doing well! And that is the hardest time to challenge the status quo, because we just want things to not change too much, because we know how to deal with today, but not sure about tomorrow, so we PROTECT.

What I encourage each of you to do is to create a sense of urgency, to challenge the status quo. And, how do you do that when things are good, maybe even great?


  • A HEALTHY paranoia!

With that, you then don’t live hoping for yesterday, but see the disruption as an enormous opportunity, or if you rather, an enormous threat.

And the most important thing to focus on is the customer — what do they want—what are their opportunities or challenges they want solved? IF you stay focused on the customer needs,you likely will continue to thrive.

Tomorrow we have a great opportunity to start embracing the unknown… Mark Dancer is leading the program and he wrote a Pre-Read — What is the Future of Foodservice Equipment & Supplies.

It is a must read….really you need to read it before the session — if you haven’t — READ IT TODAY. Our journey starts anew tomorrow.

And as we do this for our companies and industry, NAFEM will be doing this too. We will continue to focus on you — our customer — our member.

We have an outstanding organization in NAFEM. They are world class —first class— doing great work—and making us proud. And we have the best leader in Deirdre Flynn! I would like for Dee and the entire staff to stand up and be recognized—THANK YOU for all you DO!

And you have a great board that you have elected that spends countless hours devoted to NAFEM.

And in spite of being strong and successful, and running the best show, we are committed to being paranoid. That’s my role, bringing my issues to you.😊

We will be challenging the status quo, being curious, trying to more deeply understand how we can continue to bring you — our members — more value.

Whatever NAFEM has been to you, we want it to be MORE.

In conclusion….

Those words are kind of like a wakeup alarm — everyone immediately perks up, and thinks Thank God can I go get a drink! Anyway…

I have a corny credo I live by…and it is this—

Savor the Day

While always learning

For a better tomorrow

Besides being paranoid and challenging the status quo, it, to me, sums up the best way to live and embrace the future.

Enjoy these times — they are the good old days.

Keep being curious — learning all the time — be open — think about things with a fresh piece of paper.

For a better tomorrow.

As good as these days have been the best days can still be in front of us.