Foodservice Equipment Reports

Taking Stock At Year-End

We write a lot about the future in this space, trying to help you assess what the E&S market may bring in the way of opportunities and challenges. But it’s also good to look at the recent past. As we approach the end of 2012—this is our last e-newsletter of the year and the winter solstice is Friday morning, Dec. 21—it’s as good a time as any to remember the goals we had a year ago, the unexpected events that jostled those goals, the progress we achieved, and the things we wish had gone better. I’m one who believes humans, and human enterprises, naturally crave progress. Most of us don’t like to just get by.

We can’t do that analysis on your businesses, but we can use Gill Ashton Publishing LLC, as an example of the process. It’s not that complicated an exercise. What were the goals? Did we achieve them? If not, why not? Was it a failure of strategy, execution or resources, or did an unexpected change affect the outcome? And, finally, because the point of analyzing the past is to point the way to the future, where do we go from here? What are the new goals?

We’ve had a very busy, very positive year. Our first goal is always to make money, and we will. Though it’s never enough, of course. Being in the black is important for reasons beyond the obvious one of being able to support our families. Profit is necessary to have the resources to continually invest in the business.

We did a lot of investing in Gill Ashton this year. Our second goal is always, as our partner Rich Chrampanis says, “To take things up another notch.”  That goal was more overt in 2012. Coming out of the Great Foodservice Recession—which affected us even more than most of you—we made a decision to clearly demonstrate our leadership in this market and our commitment to our readers and customers.

We commissioned a large magazine readership study from Harvey Research. It clearly shows that Foodservice Equipment Reports, among eight leading foodservice magazines, is the best received, best read and most credible publication for information on equipment and supplies across the broad operator and channel markets. We upgraded the paper stock on FER in June (did you notice?) We invested in back-end software capabilities that allow us to expand and extend our electronic products.

We also undertook a complete graphic redesign of FER. If you’ve looked at your December issue, which most of you have by now, you’ll see it. Julie Wilhm, our long-time art director, did a marvelous job. In conjunction with the redesign, we re-launched a digital edition of FER (you should have received it yesterday). As part of the redesign initiative, we also have expanded our feature topics to include more personalities and more analysis of E&S processes and trends that affect our diverse operator, distributor, consultant and service agent subscriber base. You’ll see a lot more of that next year.

We also initiated a major new awards program, including a first-ever Management Excellence Award that we will bestow on six deserving operators, dealers and a consulting firm. We’re preparing a big new event at The NAFEM Show in February to present all the awards.

We did all this while managing some unexpected changes. Our founding editors took on new roles in late spring, while remaining partners in the company. Jennifer Hicks went to work managing online communications for a medical society. Brian Ward has transitioned into a major contributing writer and editor. Beth Lorenzini, who had been managing our custom publishing products and our healthcare supplement, stepped up as editor-in-chief.

Did we do everything well? Did we achieve all our goals? Of course not. But all in all, it’s been a very good, very satisfying year that we believe positions us to better serve all of you and to continue moving the business forward. Because serving our customers—readers are customers too—is what allows us to make a living. You see how we circle back to goals? We have plenty of them for next year, too.

If you get a few minutes, we urge you to take stock of your year. We hope you achieved most of what you want to do. We hope you have great plans for next year. We also hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, are enjoying time with family and friends, and have a healthy and very, very successful 2013.

We look forward to seeing and interacting with all of you in the new year.



Robin Ashton


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FER Industry Excellence Awards Gala

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