All killer, no filler: The NAFEM Show 2017 rocks out

The Killers brought down the curtain on a focused and well-attended show that reflected an industry in a buoyant and positive place, reports Michael Jones

Topping a hugely successful show in Anaheim, California, in 2015 was always going to be a challenge for the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, but they may well have pulled it off with the latest NAFEM 2017 Show in Orlando, Florida.

The show, which took place between 9-11 February, boasted a plethora of new product launches and some exciting innovation on display. It also encapsulated a palpable air of positivity for new business and future growth that radiated from the 500+ exhibitors and the thousands of attendees walking the 375,000 sq ft floors of exhibit space at Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).

FCSI The Americas 2017 Symposium

Prior to the show opening, FCSI The Americas Division hosted its annual Symposium at the same venue. The Symposium, bookended by rousing keynotes from former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss and world-renowned demographer Kenneth W. Gronbach, was very well attended by its members, with FCSI associate and Symposium chair Tara Bliss noting it was the second FCSI TAD Symposium in a row where professional members outnumbered Allied manufacturer attendees.

A series of very funny skits featuring an assortment of professional members (Bliss, Eric Norman FCSI and Kevin Kochman) and FCSI TAD executive director Wade Koehler CAE operating a polygraph lie detector test, set the tone for a fun and engaging day. FCSI TAD’s new director of marketing and communications Stacy Berry announced plans for an aggressive marketing platform to create further awareness of the FCSI TAD brand, including an amping up of social media activity and a continued focus on attracting new members from South and Central America.

Breakout sessions focused on a range of topics, including instructing members how to approach American Institute of Architects (AIA) contracts, winning more work through the proposal process, senior living foodservice, getting higher fees in a competitive market and mastering the NAFEM Show floor. A pre-Symposium party at SeaWorld saw FCSI members enjoying the thrills of the Mako roller coaster.

Hot and cool

At the NAFEM show itself, new launches were pushed to the fore, with 143 on display in the new products WHAT’S HOT! WHAT’S COOL! pavilion.

MAFSI (Manufacturers’ Agency Association for the Foodservice Industry) launched a new solution designed to give reps and manufacturers the insight and visibility to collate all of their efforts in a comprehensive, easy to use, and straightforward platform: MAFSI SpecPath®. The systems tracks every aspect of a project and currently lists 1,772 projects, nearly 300,000 items, 1,546 dealers, 1,100 consultants and 1,546 manufacturer equipment brands across North America. With over 15,000 specifications written every year in the US and Canada alone, the new system will assist MAFSI and FCSI members who can now collect and track specification credits, and allow for tracking of origination and destination across a range of market segments, says Alison Cody, executive director of MAFSI.

Awards were also bestowed during the week: Christine Guyott FCSI and Brett Daniel FCSI were honored with Foodservice Equipment Reports’ 2017 Industry Service Award and 2017 Young Lion awards respectively. Paul Angrick, formerly with Intedge, Welbilt/Enodis and Middleby, received NAFEM’s highest honor, the William W. Carpenter Award, prior to the show, while Steve Follett, ‎CEO, president and owner at Follett Corporation was also honored with the prestigious President’s Award. Organizers also announced the election of Debbie Hanson of Vulcan FEG/ITW to NAFEM’s board of directors. The Award of Merit was presented to Mike Harlamert, formerly of Yum! Brands, Roy Hook, now retired from Wendy’s Restaurants and Martin Cowley, formerly of Disney and now executive director of design and technical support at consultancy Ricca Design Studios. Greg Fischer of Cambro Manufacturing was also awarded for his service on the board of directors

Deirdre Flynn, executive vice president of NAFEM also read out heartfelt tributes to past-presidents Sandy Hahn and Ira Kaplan FCSI, who both passed away in 2016. Flynn also revealed NAFEM added 53 members in the past year to reach 620 members total.

As The Killers took to the stage to bring proceedings to a gloriously celebratory end, NAFEM themselves must look to how on earth they top this all again at the next show in 2019. No mean feat that.

Michael Jones