Allies

All aspects of the foodservice industry love the romance of the entrepreneur. The story usually involves someone having a vision and the determination to see it through and applies equally to operators, consultants, dealers, reps and service agents.

These wonderful stories will forever have a place in the colorful history of the foodservice industry but it's doubtful the present or future generation will have similar tales to tell. That's because as the foodservice industry continues to mature, so do the various factors that drive it forward.

For example, as consumers become more engaged not only in the types of food they eat but in how the food gets made and its origins, operators from all industry segments need to become more and more transparent. That's because today's sophisticated consumer requires more than a plate of food. They demand an experience. Experiential based dining was once the exclusive domain of five-star restaurants, but consumers now expect it in some form no matter where they eat. That includes the business and industry sector.

One B&I operator on the leading edge of experiential dining is Microsoft's Mark Freeman, recipient of FE&S' 2017 Hall of Fame Award. Read all about Microsoft's magnificent dining operations and Mark's equally amazing career. One of the many important lessons from Mark's tale is the fact that he could not have accomplished so much flying solo. He continues to enjoy sound backing from Microsoft's leadership and has a strong ally in Compass Group, the software giant's contract foodservice partner that provides the dining operations. Together, this group transformed B&I foodservice.

Alliances are also transforming the supply chain. For example, in this month's Parting Shot, rep Jeff Johnson describes how a collaborative approach can result in impactful tabletops that shape guests' experience. And the spirit of collaboration also defines the successful careers of the four foodservice professionals that are the recipients of FE&STop Achiever Awards. For Beth, David, Paul and Stacey, developing and nurturing meaningful alliances with colleagues and customers alike is more than a buzzword. It serves a guiding principal that sets them and their businesses apart.

In March, we learned of a new alliance when private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners acquired an equity stake in Edward Don & Company. This alliance will undoubtedly contribute to the changing face of the dealer community as Vestar's investment will fund Edward Don & Company's "future growth with a primary focus on geographic expansion and acquisitions." In other words, expect the M&A activity to heat up even more in the dealer community, as companies like Edward Don and TriMark USA look to grow their top line revenues. For more about the dealer community, be sure to check out FE&S' 2017 Distribution Giants Study.

Indeed, it will take more than a good story to navigate today's foodservice industry. Choose your allies wisely.

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