Each year, FE&S produces 12 issues of our print publication. But it would be harder to find one read with greater scrutiny than the April issue. That’s due, in large part, to FE&S releasing the results from the magazine’s annual Distribution Giants study.

The dealers read the Distribution Giants study with great interest to measure their progress against their peers. Manufacturers will look at this data closer than usual to see how their supply chain partners are holding up. Operators will pay close attention to this study to check up on the health of their preferred suppliers, and so forth.

What makes this iteration of the study so intriguing is that it comes amid a time of intense consolidation in the foodservice equipment industry. During a 13-month period ending in March 2018, at least 18 mergers or acquisitions were announced.

As a result, the top 100 looks considerably different than it did just one year ago. The number of dealers with annual revenues in excess of $100 million is down 2 percent, while the number of mid-sized dealers, those with revenues between $99 million and $20 million, grew their place on the list by an astounding 27 percent.

If all of this consolidation has you wondering what the future holds for dealers or other members of the foodservice industry,  read about FE&S’ 2018 quintet of Top Achiever Award recipients. The reason it’s five instead of the usual four is that for the first time in the magazine’s history, FE&S is recognizing an operator with this time-honored award.

Like those that came before them, this crop of top achievers shares some common traits: They are problem solvers, tireless hard workers, and always strive to do better. In doing so, they also inspire others and willingly share their knowledge. Leading by example, they earn the respect of their colleagues and customers and quietly set the standard for professionalism for today’s foodservice industry.

These traits are timeless and apply equally as well to Kathleen Seelye, FE&S2018 Hall of Fame Award winner. By most any metric, Kathleen enjoyed a hall of fame career even before receiving this recognition from FE&S. But what will always stand out for me about Kathleenis the thoughtful, thorough way sheapproaches everything. From her  award-winning designs to her involvement with FCSI to her role as a founding judge for the National Restaurant Association’s Kitchen Innovations Award, Kathle en is always all in. No exceptions.

What will the supply chain look like in the future? That’s not entirely clear at the moment. What remains clear though, is that customer preferences may change, and technology will continue to change how transactions get processed, but the qualities and traits people look for in a business partner will not. Those organizations that prioritize problem solving, developing future generations of professionals and giving back to the communities they serve over topline growth will continue to win over the hearts and minds of their customers.