Event review: FCSI The Americas Symposium 2019

Michael Jones reports from a record-breaking Symposium that put members' education at its heart

The FCSI The Americas Symposium 2019 broke previous records for attendance, with more than 170 consultants and nearly 150 Allied members heading to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Taking place in the days prior to the NAFEM Show ’19, at the same location, the attendees were treated to a full day’s program, all centered around an ‘Accelerate’ racing theme of educational keynoters and breakout seminars, along with great networking opportunities and a whole heap of fun in between.

Get set, go

The success of FCSI The Americas Division (TAD)’s events has always been to expertly marry the fun with the learning. The former took center stage at the opening party on Tuesday 5 February as attendees got to test their racing mettle on the tracks of the Andretti Indoor Karting & Games venue.

Day one of the Symposium saw event chair Brett Daniel FCSI praising the support of the 37 Allied member sponsors who had made the event possible. “Without them, we would not be able to host these events,” he said.

FCSI TAD executive director Wade Koehler introduced the 2019 #MyFCSI marketing initiative that will see prizes awarded each month to members who are visibly promoting their membership of the Society using the hashtag throughout the year. William Bender FCSI was the recipient of the inaugural award at the Symposium. “This is our way of helping our members help themselves,” said Koehler.

With the program

Keynote speaker Sam Richter, founder and CEO of SBR Worldwide/Know More and author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling, asked the crowd, “Could your business be better with better information?” Richter addressed the pressing issues of big data in the industry (a major story in the forthcoming Q1 2019 print edition of Foodservice Consultant), before educating attendees on how to really use online search tools effectively.

“Statistically, we waste two hours each day searching for things,” said Richter. “You need to narrow in and get information you can use to really grow your business.”

A number of breakout sessions followed, including a session from associate member Jay Bandy of Goliath Consulting Group that discussed ‘Using technology in foodservice’. “Technology is improving every facet of the business… but the restaurant business is 1,000 details every day,” he said, stressing that in order for technology to work effectively, companies must “align it with business goals.”

Additional breakout sessions addressed topics as diverse as commercial kitchen energy efficiency, succession planning, Revit tips and tricks, thinking outside the kitchen and designing for generation Z.

Joseph Schumaker FCSI and Debbie Lohmeyer of Food Space in California tackled the ‘Future of food’ in their session, including trends on snackification, flexitarian eating, localization and automation.

“The built space is not set up for the future of food,” said Schumaker. “We’re looking at how food, technology and the built space interacts with each other. We’re trying to look into the future.” This topic will also be addressed by Schumaker, Ken Schwartz FCSI and Koehler at a Consultants Panel session, sponsored by Irinox, on Friday 8 February at the NAFEM Show on the Irinox booth # 3760.

All about the members

The Symposium saw new FCSI TAD professional members recognized, as Gina Brinegar FCSI, Rad Deering FCSI, Diris Maria Faria FCSI and Robert Sheibly FCSI joined divisional chair William Caruso FFCSI and Kip Serfozo FCSI on stage.

Ed Norman FFCSI, new chair of FCSI’s Educational Foundation (EF), updated attendees on recent activities of the Foundation, which aims to attract students from around the world into the consulting profession. “It’s our task to find new talent. Please consider donating to the Foundation,” he said. If you are interested in donating to FCSI’s Educational Foundation, please click here.

A closing keynote from Richter explored the natural extension of his morning topic, ‘Do you really know your customer’, to question: ‘How well do you know yourself? Richter implored attendees to “be careful what they post” on social media and to be mindful of the “unintended consequences” of the “crazy world in which we live”.

And with that final lap of accelerated learning, it was time for members to head to the opening party of NAFEM Show ’19 for more fun, networking and education.

Michael Jones

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