July 24, 2018
The only thing constant is change
The past few months have been a moving target for all of us defined by events that were just emerging when we were together. Since our combined conference in March, our industry has been impacted by the effects of government action affecting both raw materials and finished product. Speed of service, on many levels driven by the Amazon effect, drives an ever-increasing need to access and deliver more information in new ways, which is changing the way we interact with our customers, suppliers, partners, employees and stakeholders.
All this change impacts me in two ways – one as the president of a mid-size foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturing company, and the other in my role as NAFEM president, representing you, the 550+ diverse manufacturers of foodservice equipment and supplies. What I need to better operate our company is what I believe NAFEM will continue to expand and provide to all its members – the ease of access to better information and services that go beyond our outstanding NAFEM show.
For the past two months, NAFEM and some of our partners have been aggressively engaged and securing information on what has been the most pressing issue to hit our association in 10 years – our metal supply and the current tariffs on steel, aluminum, finished goods and component parts.
NAFEM has been at the forefront of the discussion nationally – testifying before trade representatives, congressional committees, and joining with other industry stakeholders to support free market trade policies. We’ve provided public comment both proactively and when solicited, on economic challenges we all face if our ability to trade and source materials is limited, and how that impacts our ability to grow both domestically and internationally.
We’ve brought regulators to member operations to allow them to see first-hand how impending regulatory change impacts our ability to keep our industry safe, cost effective and productive.
While it’s not NAFEM’s job to run your business or my business, NAFEM can and should continue to look for ways to supply all of us with the information we need to help us make informed business decisions by expanding relevant information available for our industry. NAFEM can do that by leveraging the collective voice and power of the membership – 550+ companies, $10-12 billion dollars in collective sales, an integral part of the 3rd largest industry in the country. We’re working now to provide expanded programs and services with industry-leading partners to help lower your operating costs, provide workforce training across the enterprise, engage with key operator associations in both the commercial and non-commercial markets, and develop more collaborative relationships with our key channel partners.
As just one example to advance this strategic initiative, we are in the process of meeting with all the existing channel software and technology company leadership to be able to sort out and compile an easy-to-use unbiased document outlining all the information technology tools’ capabilities available in our industry to support your sales and customer service functions to enhance your ability to work smarter and be more innovative. Getting access to and providing you with expanded economic forecasting data to build on the current sources we currently use for our business planning needs is another example underway that you will see this fall. And, of course, preparation is in high gear for The NAFEM Show to be the must-attend buying, marketing and education venue for our products.
A Vistage Chair shared this quote with me: “Nothing changes until you change, and everything changes when you change.” Change is good for all of us if we embrace what’s new, respecting our history and not simply holding onto what has worked in the past for each of us, NAFEM, or our industry when the time to change has come.
Joe Carlson, CFSP
President, Lakeside Manufacturing, Inc.