Foodservice Equipment Reports

A Really Great NAFEM Show

Let me just state it plainly: The just concluded NAFEM Show in Anaheim rates with the best I’ve attended. And I’ve been going to NAFEM since 1981. The optimism on the show floor was palpable. Everyone was upbeat. The quality of the attendance was unmatched. Every single key NAFEM Show demographic—dealers, consultants, commercial and noncommercial operators, service agents, international attendees—was fully represented. There are no final attendance numbers but NAFEM’s Deidre Flynn told us there were 20,000 folks on hand, including exhibitors.

And you could tell that the industry is six years out from the depths of the Great Recession. Manufacturers have ramped up their research and development and you could see it in the spate of very interesting new products.

This NAFEM Show, in my mind, ranks with the very best shows of my past: 1987, 1999, 2007. Not surprisingly, those years represent, like 2015, high points in the equipment and supplies market cycle.

But in addition to the business aspects, what’s important to me, and, I believe, to the industry as a whole, is the way NAFEM Shows bind us together. NAFEM’s tag line used to be “The industry meeting place.” It certainly still serves that key function.

Here are some personal highlights from this year’s show:

  • Kathy Petersen, former FCSI-the Americas Chair Jim Petersen’s significant other, wowing the crowd with her lip-synching at the FCSI-The Americas opening reception. Everyone should notice how successful FCSI has been in attracting younger members. The change is truly dramatic.

  • Joe Pierce, former CFESA president and FER’s 2015 Industry Service Award winner, thanking us and introducing us to his wife.

  • The many friends who came to help celebrate our partner Ken Gill’s coming induction into the FE&S Dealer Hall of Fame.

  • The sea of nearly 400 white-shirted folks at the TriMark USA opening cocktail reception, and CEO Jerry Hyman announcing that the company had revenues in excess of $1 billion in 2014. That’s a whole lotta fryers and forks.

  • The excitement exhibited by so many manufacturers about their new products. It’s like they are showing off new children. I would love to mention names, but it would only get me in trouble.

The incredibly gracious and heartfelt remarks of our Management Excellence, Industry Service and Young Lion Awards winners during our awards event. Among those that still resonate: Mason Greene from Hotel & Restaurant Supply thanking his parents and wife for their support; Tom Holmberg from Miami-Dade Schools and Phil Atkinson from the Hennepin Co. (Minn.) Sheriff’s Dept. talking about the importance of foodservice in their organizations; Dave Biederman from Smashburger thanking by name the chain’s key supplier and support partners; Scott Reitano from Reitano Design Associates and Joe Schmitt from Rapids Wholesale Equipment noting how their staffs are family. It was all truly touching.

We hope you all got as much out of the show as we did. We enjoyed spending time with you.


Robin Ashton


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