My ﬁrst NAFEM show.
Wow. I’m pretty new to the industry. Four years ago, if you had asked me if I knew a good New York rep group, I would have said Run-DMC. But now I know that’s hip-hop, not tabletop. I got kitchen-cred. Or as one foodservice equipment manufacturer would say: I’m “fluent in foodservice.”
The show’s big. Everybody is there and everybody brought their best stuff. There were new products and new versions of old products. People still cook with ﬁre and pour drinks over ice, but there are so many variations of those originals that it seems like there couldn’t possibly be a better way for a dealer, operator, consultant (DOC) to get exposed to all of it. Combine that visual exposure to the hands-on exposure and audible exposure to product-specialists, and you are at maximum exposure.
If new products and services are the UV rays of the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, The NAFEM Show is the sun. And we are cooked.
This show allows the DOCs to come in and actually direct the ﬂow of the learning. They come in either with speciﬁc application questions or concerns, or they develop them after an introduction by the product manager. It’s custom-tuned to their — or their customers’ — application speciﬁcations.
After the awe of the booths and the equipment wore off, I started to wonder about the value of it all. I’ve been attending conferences and trade shows like these for 20 years and I’ve always wondered about the ROI. Is there really enough business being conducted at these things to justify the expense of sending all of those people, and eating from all of those food trucks? (Did you try the lobster grilled cheese? Amazing.)
In my humble opinion? Absolutely. That’s what makes the world, or a restaurant kitchen’s ticket order wheel, go round. That’s what makes it worth showing at and showing up at events like The NAFEM Show.
When the DOCs meet with the product specialists, they make a connection and establish the critical elements necessary for a productive, supply-chain relationship. The DOCs beneﬁt because now they have a name and a face to connect with down the road with their manufacturers as a result of the connection they made at the show. When they walked into the booths, there was immediate business being addressed. Everyone knows why people are there and how much it costs. So they’re ready to do business and do business is what they did.
Lastly, a tip of the toque to NAFEM. Obviously people recognize this show as a peak event every two years and take a lot of pride in how they present themselves at such a prestigious exhibition. It shows and it’s worth it.
At the end we were all thrilled, inspired, reenergized and exhausted. But not so much that we couldn’t go to the Zac Brown Band concert and put our lighted wrists in the air and wave ‘em… like we just don’t care. “Hit it Run…er….Zac!”