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Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin Ashton

Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin AshtonFounding partner Robin Ashton, president and publisher, is a true industry veteran in spite of is boyish appearance, he's covered foodservice since 1978, and E&S exclusively since 1982, as an editor and publisher at several magazines.


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The Power Of Association

May 01, 2013

We had two great experiences in early April that reminded us of the great benefits that result from working together. First we went to Shanghai, China, where we partnered with the Foodservice Consultants Society Int’l.’s Asia-Pacific Division and UBM SinoExpo to help create and stage a new day-long educational program at the annual Hotelex trade show. Then we headed to San Antonio, Texas, and the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association’s 2013 Annual Convention, at which the association celebrated its 80th—yes, 80th—anniversary.

We’ve had a very productive relationship since 2005 with Hotelex, the big (100,000 visitors this year!) foodservice equipment and supplies show UBM SinoExpo stages every year in Shanghai. Of course, we’ve had a much longer relationship with FCSI, not just in the Americas, but worldwide. Last year, we and the show organizers, including Clara Pi, chair of FCSI’s Asia Pacific Division, began working together to expand the educational offerings. 

Pi tapped a couple of her members—Beijing-based Tony Wang and Francois Tesni from Singapore, as well as Jonathan Doughty from FCSI’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Division—to speak on topics such as designing kitchens for the 21st century Chinese consumer, modular kitchen design, food trends and how to use marketing and social media to differentiate one’s operation.

We asked Jane Gannaway, v.p. engineering at Yum! China, and Don Fisher from the Food Service Technology Center in San Ramon, Calif., to help. They spoke about energy- and water-efficiency techniques, LEED building practices and other sustainability issues. We, including Pi, also did presentations. The Hotelex marketing folks—Jojo Zhang, Zoi Fan and Alex Ni—did a great job marketing and publicizing the event. (Did you see the program ads in FER with our bobble heads?) They also created a great venue for the forum right on the show floor. They arranged simultaneous translation into Mandarin for those of us who speak English.

The result was an overflow crowd of hundreds. They ran out of handouts and translation headsets. And as we finished, we were all talking, of course, about how we’re going to take it up yet another notch next year. 

Then we were off to San Antonio and FEDA’s Annual Convention. From FEDA and Wasserstrom Co. Pres. Brad Wasserstrom riding into the opening reception on a longhorn steer to the savory and totally non-fattening chicken waffles and braised short ribs of the closing banquet, FEDA members, suppliers and hangers-on such as ourselves had fun and did good work.The program and speakers were terrific. The interaction of attendees was lively and productive.

But its 80th anniversary is a really important event in our industry and needs to be noted. The history of FEDA is long and colorful. From its founding in 1933 as part of the federal National Industrial Recovery Act, through the rapid growth of foodservice following World War II and into the “chain” era of the ’60s,’70s, ’80s and the present, the association has stood as a bastion for the concept of dealer-based distribution. 

That has taken the hard work and courage of scores of dealers and manufacturers over the decades. In the contemporary era, it is also a testament to the abilities and professionalism of the group’s Executive Director Ray Herrick who celebrates his 30th year in 2013 of helping run the organization. Ray has made profound contributions to FEDA and to the foodservice equipment and supplies business as a whole.

Just see what you can do if you work together? 

Cheers,

Robin Ashton
Publisher
rashton@fermag.com

 

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