If you know him, you know Brad Pierce is just a remarkable person. He’s warm, out-going, energetic, and very, very intelligent. He flies an airplaneâ€”safelyâ€”and does business around the world. He’s incredibly tech-savvy. Perhaps his most important trait? He uses all that to get things done, in his business life, in his personal life, and not least during his two-year term as FEDA president. I’ve known him his entire adult career and I am still constantly amazed at how and what he gets done and gets other people to do.
All this was very clear as we spent four days with many of you at FEDA’s just-concluded Annual Convention in Tucson. Lots of other things were stirring at the meeting, which we write about in the accompanying news article. But I want to write here about Brad and what he helped the industry achieve during the past few years.
Let me just run off a quick list: First and foremost, he got the FEDA Data Interchange, which helps dealers, reps, factories and everyone in the channel track orders in real time online, off the ground, and up and running. That alone would be a truly remarkable achievement. But he also, with strong support from Joe Schmitt, signed an agreement with the International Interior Design Association and has begun talks with the American Society of Interior Designers to end years of litigation and legislation that sought to limit foodservice dealers from offering interior design services.
He was a key player, along with NAFEM’s Mike Whiteley and others, in pushing all five foodservice equipment “families”â€”NAFEM, FEDA, MAFSI, FCSI and CFESAâ€”into greater cooperation and mutual understanding. That cooperation is now expanding to include incoming officers to ensure continuity. The first focus will be on working together to recruit younger people into the industry at all levels and functions.
He also spearheaded a program with the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce that took 25 dealers to the HOST trade show in Milan, Italy last fall. He announced last week that this program will expand to 125 for the next HOST in 2017. And he continued and expanded FEDA’s Exceptional Manufacturers program, pushed recognition of Diamond-level supporters of the FEDA Foundation, and helped in myriad other ways. It’s quite a list.
But let me expand a bit on his determination to launch the FEDA Data Interchange, because I believe that this initiative will turn out to be one of the most significant advances this industry as ever seen.
I doubt anyone believed Brad when he began his tenure two years ago and said that his main goal was to get the FDI up and running. They shouldn’t have doubted him. With the tireless help of Kent Motes, Mike Greenwald and all the techies at of AutoQuotes, the strong support of the leadership at NAFEM, incoming Pres. Joe Schmitt and the entire FEDA board, the FDI is now much more than a dream.
Pierce announced at the convention that 31% of all FEDA dealers, 25% of all MAFSI reps firms and 104 manufacturers are now using the FDI daily to track order status. More are signing up every day. In the last year since the launch of the initiative,1.3 million purchase orders have been entered into the system, more than a million of them with tracking info. And as Brad said at the meeting, the FDI “is still in its infancy.”
This isn’t just a “nice to have” thing. This is a way to use technology to lower back-end costs, and thus increase margins, for everyone in the channel. Analysis has shown as much as 30% of dealer, rep, consultant and manufacturer time is spent chasing the status of orders. That time can be used much more productively interacting with customers and lots of other ways. And this system is already having a very positive influence as it helps ensure customers get equipment when it was promised, when they need it.
Lots of people helped get FDI going. But I think all agree Brad Pierce was the tip of the spear. Inspired leadership does make things happen. We should all thank Brad for all the things he got done. And for smiling and laughing through it all. The best part is that I’m certain this is by no means his last act. Thanks, Brad.
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