Quick...what do the years 1983, 2002 and 2014 have in common? And, no, they do not correspond with the years my favorite blazer has been in style.

These are the years FE&S has recognized Wasserstrom as Dealer of the Year. For us, and hopefully Wasserstrom, that's kind of a big deal. Back in 2002, they were the first dealer to receive this honor twice and now, in 2014, Wasserstrom becomes the first three-time recipient of the most prestigious and time-honored award in foodservice equipment and supplies distribution.

To put that achievement into context, consider that only an estimated 30 percent of family-owned businesses successfully transition from the first generation to the second. In the third generation, the successful transition rate drops to about 12 percent, and by the fourth generation less than 3 percent of family-owned businesses remain viable. In a recent Forbes article, Mark Green, author of the book, Inside the Multi-Generational Family Business, pointed out that despite those long odds, 80 percent of U.S. businesses are family owned, including 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

I've spent a significant portion of my career working in and calling on family-owned businesses and can attest to how special they really are. As Jim Zink points out in this month's Parting Shot there's something unique about having your family's name on the front door. Family-owned businesses represent a big part of who we are in America.

And when you can make 1,500-plus associates feel like family, as is the case at Wasserstrom, well, the sky's the limit for an organization's success. The Columbus, Ohio-based company's successful transition into the family's third and fourth generations provides a unique insight into the vision, value system and work ethic necessary to keep the company flexible enough to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace and achieve lasting greatness.

Please enjoy the in-depth coverage and join me in congratulating Wasserstrom on its unprecedented third designation as FE&S' Dealer of the Year. Be on the lookout for our Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala pictorial in the July issue of FE&S.

I look forward to seeing most of you at this year's National Restaurant Association Show, which takes place May 17 to 20 in Chicago's McCormick Place. You can find most of our team attending a special celebration of the Kitchen Innovation Awards' Tenth Anniversary, which takes place 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 18 in the KI Pavilion on the show floor.