A cross the top of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's website are three phrases that seem to describe the organization's objectives: "Preserving History. Honoring Excellence. Connecting Generations." And I can't think of a better way to describe why we at FE&S are recognizing David Stafford Sr. of Stafford-Smith with the magazine's 2012 Hall of Fame Award.

Like the previous nine individuals who received FE&S' Hall of Fame Award, David Stafford Sr.'s efforts have paved the way for today's foodservice professionals. He learned the business from the ground up, starting in the non-commercial arena working as a foodservice director in the college and university segment. David then joined the family business, where he hit the road selling before eventually working his way up to owning Stafford-Smith. Along the way, David pushed the status quo by looking for new opportunities to grow the business through the pursuit of projects previously outside of his company's scope of work and by acquisition.

Undoubtedly, David learned a few lessons along the way, but one of the reasons for his company's ability to sustain success is the fact that when things are good he never gets too high, and when times are tough he never gets too low. This steady-as-you-go approach to leadership helps those around David remain on task, never letting any of the details fall through the cracks.

David is a natural competitor, driven to succeed in most everything he and his company does. But unlike other competitors, David keeps a big picture perspective. In his words: "It's not what happens at a specific point in time that matters. It's the entire package that matters most and the entire ride that matters. So it is a lifetime project to deliver and develop valuable relationships."

Along those lines, David, a tough but fair negotiator, is known for his ability to find common ground when working with suppliers and customers alike to resolve any issues that may arise over the course of a project's life. His ability to build consensus has earned David the respect of his dealer colleagues and factory suppliers, who regularly turn to him for advice and counsel on a variety of topics.

While David remains active in the dealership, he's taken the next steps to ensure that Stafford-Smith will continue to flourish by cultivating the company's next generation of leaders who are poised to make their mark on the family business.

David leads by example, and the lessons we can learn from him and his success are undeniable for anyone willing to sit back and absorb them. Simply put there is no substitute for hard work, passion and integrity; balance your desire to defend yourself, your company and your employees with a sense of fairness; and how you do something is as important as what you do.

We at FE&S are proud to honor the standard of excellence David has established and to preserve his place in the history of the foodservice equipment and supplies industry. And we hope sharing his story will help connect the various generations that work side by side in the foodservice industry for years to come.