A huge responsibility naturally accompanies naming a particular brand Best in Class across each category of commercial foodservice equipment and supplies each year.

That's why, when asked about the complexity and potential downside of such an undertaking, my tongue-in-cheek response is to say, "That's why we at FE&S would never take on such a task. Instead, we ask our readers to do it."

The truth is that we do ask a lot of our readers when we ask them to complete the lengthy questionnaire associated with FE&S' annual Best in Class study. The fact that our readers take time out of their busy schedules to fill out the surveys is nothing short of a compliment. To us this means that these individual members of the foodservice industry see the value in having their collective voice heard through this thoughtfully comprehensive study and they trust us to report the results fairly.

Similarly, when questions arise with manufacturers, as they sometimes do, about a particular competitor earning a Best in Class designation, we always ask for the opportunity to sit down with them to show them exactly how people from different perspectives within the industry rate their brand in relation to the competition. This study's market intelligence provides valuable insight about the brand perceptions that exist among foodservice operators, dealers and consultants. In most cases, winning or losing in a particular category becomes secondary to deciding where to place the emphasis on future brand strategy. The manufacturers clearly appreciate this kind of data-driven feedback from the industry at large.

Thank you to the subscribers of FE&S, the industry's longest running and most trusted foodservice equipment and supplies-oriented magazine. Without you, a study of this kind would be incredibly difficult. And, if you think completing the study was exhausting, you should try tallying the results.

At the end of the day, though, proprietary research like FE&S' 2014 Best in Class study represents a vital role business-to-business journals like ours continue to play in the foodservice industry and one we are uniquely positioned to fulfill. Simply put, we serve as a vital conduit of candid, unfiltered feedback and information between the buyers and sellers of foodservice equipment and supplies.

With that, you can find this year's results beginning on page 24. Once again, we would like to sincerely thank our readers for taking the time to share their opinions with us.