Show time

Targeted networking, cutting-edge new products and even a set from rock band The Killers - NAFEM Show 2017 promises to be an inspiring, essential event, says Howard Riell

Attendees at the NAFEM Show 2017, held on 9-11 February at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Florida, will see more than just what’s new – they’ll also find what’s cool. In addition to the products on display at the 500+ booths, show-goers will be able to visit the WHAT’S HOT! WHAT’S COOL! product gallery, billed as a “not-to- be-missed hub of activity centrally” located on the exhibit floor.

In a world of smartphones, smart houses and countless other tech conveniences, NAFEM officials say, “it’s no surprise that commercial kitchen equipment and supplies follows suit. Most of the advances solve ongoing industry pain points – ensuring better food safety and saving time and money.” In the gallery, attendees will find:

  • Internet-enabled remote equipment monitoring solutions, from coffee makers to ovens
  • Various types of programmable equipment for more automated cooking processes
  • Equipment features and add-ons that conserve energy or water by monitoring usage and shutting down or going idle during inactive periods
  • Solutions that collect, store and transmit food safety information, streamlining the process of specific HACCP requirements

New this year to the WHAT’S HOT! WHAT’S COOL! product gallery is an Inspiration Station – a series of four discussions designed to generate conversation around the latest equipment and supplies trends. The series will be led by Mike Colburn and Mary Esther Treat, founders of product design firm Ideas Well Done. As independent experts, they will weigh in on some of the things they have seen on display in the gallery, and encourage questions and comments from the audience. Inspiration Station discussions will take place between 10-11 February from 11–11.30am and 2–2.30pm.

Great opportunities

The NAFEM show is “a nice, quieter show where we get to spend more quality time with our members both on the show floor and during the evening activities,” says Wade Koehler CAE, executive director of FCSI The Americas. “In addition, the show attracts a large contingent of foodservice consultants, so we hope to have a large number of new applicants during the show.”

The show is “a great opportunity for us to connect with current members and promote the Society to prospective members,” adds Penny Price, director of member services for FCSI The Americas. “We hope that members walking the show floor will take a minute to stop by our booth. We are looking forward to a really fun week.”

People business

NAFEM attendees and exhibitors have always emphasized that perhaps the most powerful aspect of the show is their ability to have personal, one- on-one contact with their colleagues, a reminder that hospitality is first and foremost a people business.

The NAFEM Show, insists Kimberly Kissel, director of education for FCSI The Americas is “a great opportunity for FCSI and its members to connect with others in the industry, identify ways to collaborate with industry partners, and keep abreast of industry changes and customer expectations.”

The NAFEM Show is “the most efficient means for a consultant to learn about the latest developments in the foodservice equipment industry,” according to Douglas Huber FCSI, principal of Foodservice Consultants Studio, Inc. in Henrico, Virginia. “Every manufacturer has invested significant resources to improve energy efficiency and cleanability or add features to equipment. All of these improvements are a direct response to some operator challenge.”

At NAFEM, Huber continues, consultants can see all the solutions that manufacturers have developed over the last couple of years, “and all under one roof. This year’s show promises to be huge, and I am hearing of lots of new things which manufacturers are excited to introduce. I can think of no better way to learn about the universe of equipment solutions available to foodservice operators than to attend the NAFEM Show. This year’s event will be my 10th show, and I am really looking forward to this one.”

Showcasing quality

Taylor Sweeney, marketing coordinator for Piper Products, Inc. in Wausau, Wisconsin, says NAFEM is important for her company because “it allows us to get in front of a large, qualified pool of end-users, consultants, dealers and distributors all in one place while also being able to showcase our equipment and demonstrate what we like to call ‘The Piper Difference.’ At NAFEM, we can easily show how Piper can be used for food prep, food production, food storage, food transfer, food service and food merchandising all at our booth. This ability makes NAFEM the best place to get multiple solid leads as well as grow our brand in front of the right people,” she says.

Christine Guyott FCSI Rippe Associates in Minnetonka, Minnesota, says her favorite part of the show is “walking the floor to see if there is anything new that can be used to help our customers make their foodservice departments more efficient or unique.”

According to Keven Hass, national sales manager for Gaylord Ventilation in Tualatin, Oregon, “NAFEM’s equipment and supplies focus provides the best opportunity for Gaylord to showcase the quality of our products and engineering to attendees who are interested in learning about the latest and greatest products available to make their projects successful,” he says. “And the networking opportunities are wonderful because nothing beats catching up with friends and competitors, old and new.”

The show is “full of opportunities to network with industry professionals and key decision makers,” Hass points out. “Reconnecting with these many relationships is something I really enjoy. It gives all of us the chance to educate our customers.” Today’s consumers are savvy, and look harder at the cost versus benefit, he adds, “which means doing homework before making a major purchase. “NAFEM gives them a wonderful array of product information in a great environment.” Hass and his colleagues are excited that Gaylord will be launching a new product and displaying their high-efficiency ELX and ELXC hoods at the ITW Kitchen Experience, showcasing ITW brands new and most popular food equipment group products.

“As regional shows have lost much of their impact over the last few years, this biennial event continues to grow in size, and the value to the operators and channel partners continues to increase,” explains Kevin Clark, president of Scotsman Ice Systems in Vernon Hills, Illinois. “While much of our information today is available online or through other sources, this show allows us a unique opportunity to interact and tell our story on a more personal scale and in a more hands- on environment. We look to the show as a springboard to our marketing efforts for the next two years.”

Clark says that he and his colleagues have been in the process over the last few years of sharpening the Scotsman identity, and that for the 2017 show “you will see what we believe to be a clearer, easier to understand, message that communicates our brand position and our commitment to the industry. We are in a unique position with our decades of innovation, experience and commitment to our category and we plan to clearly tell that story at NAFEM.”

Eric Deng, president of Hestan Commercial, says NAFEM is important “because we’ve been aggressively promoting the Hestan brand in both the foodservice and consumer industries. It is critical that we stay actively involved with great organizations such as FCSI, NRA, HPBExpo and KBIS.” This approach has led to “great results for us, so we really appreciate the support we continue to receive. This will be our first year at NAFEM, so we’re looking forward to seeing the same results and support that will continue to help building our brand.”

Hestan has been developing several new products that its executives plan to show at NAFEM this year. “Also,” says Deng, “because the Hestan brand extends beyond just restaurant equipment, we plan to show new products in other consumer industries as well.”

Opportunity knocks

For David Brewer, COO, Middleby Commercial Foodservice, NAFEM is significant because it is “where we unveil our new innovations to the marketplace. In 2017, our booth will have the most new products ever. We are excited about NAFEM 2017 and the opportunity to showcase these new, innovative products within all of our brands to an outstanding group of attendees.”

It is also, says Brewer, an opportunity for Middleby, and all exhibitors, to “put their best foot forward, from product innovation to people. Simply put, NAFEM is the Oscars of our industry. For the Middleby brands, we see the NAFEM Show as an opportunity to highlight and showcase our new and existing innovations and how they are addressing the operator needs of today. I have attended this show for some time, both as a customer and as a manufacturer. I love to see how it continues to evolve to address the needs of the industry. All of the exhibitors continue to rise to meet the challenges our customers face.”

Brewer is most looking forward to the Follett brand joining the booth in 2017, offering a new product category for Middleby. “Follett has outstanding innovation and patented products to serve ice and beverage needs of all customers. I’m excited to show the ‘Middleby Pathway to Innovation’ throughout the brands in the Middleby booth. We hope to provide attendees with new ideas on how to run their businesses more efficiently and cost-effectively while delivering the best quality product to customers. Our industry is constantly evolving and we all are committed to helping our customers reach the next level in the future,” he says.

“I always look forward to seeing our customers and colleagues and celebrating their successes. The people in this industry are outstanding and I’m proud to call many my friends. This show attracts the best in the industry and simply put, it is a lot of fun.”

For Chris Voss, a keynote speaker at the prior FCSI The Americas Symposium 2017 (see p16), NAFEM represents a best of breed in the industry. “The professionals of NAFEM are integrally involved, really in an invisible way, in keeping the business community at its best. This is a great challenge and one that evolves at the speed of business. I’m very impressed with the type of people who do it and the challenges they face,” he says.

Killer entertainment

Also on the bill, performing live at The NAFEM Show after-show party on Saturday 11 February, with sales topping 22 million albums worldwide and seven Grammy nominations, will be Las Vegas’s finest, The Killers.

Howard Riell


Show schedule:

Wednesday 8 February

6.30–8.30pm Kick-off party


Thursday 9 February

9am–5pm Show floor opens


Friday 10 February

8–9am Training time

9am–5pm Show floor opens


Saturday 11 February

8–9am Training time

9am–3pm Show floor opens

7–11pm After-show party

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