In the entertainment industry, the first part of the year is affectionately known as awards season. From the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the Oscars, the entertainment community takes a look back to honor a few select individuals who, over the course of their illustrious careers, made an indelible mark on the business.

At FE&S we follow a somewhat similar path. For example, last month we celebrated front-of-the-house excellence with FE&S’ 2019 Performance in Tabletop Awards. Next month, we will introduce you to FE&S’ 2019 Dealer of the Year and Facility Design Project of the Year. In this issue, though, you will meet Julaine Kiehn, the recipient of FE&S’ 2019 Hall of Fame Award, and the recipients of FE&S’ 2019 Top Achiever Awards — a quintet of foodservice professionals making an impact on the industry each and every day.

It’s long been said that relationships serve as the foundation of the foodservice industry. And that’s why we feel telling these stories is so important. Because, at the end of the day, as you seek a solution to a challenge facing you or your company, you will inevitably find a solution to your problem from another human being. Yes, even as technology and e-commerce continue to infiltrate almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives, the fact remains that relationships matter more than ever.

Indeed, there’s no more intimate relationship than between a person and their food. It’s only natural, then, that the supply chain that helps deliver the food to the forks of the hungry develop and maintain close and intimate working relationships. That ability represents one of many traits this class of Top Achiever Awards recipients share. They are humble, thoughtful, entrepreneurial and much more.

Each of the six award winners profiled in this issue took decidedly different paths to reach the pinnacle of their careers. What makes their stories even more impactful, though, is their willingness to share moments of personal and professional doubt, the influence their families had on their careers, the happenstance meetings during a tradeshow that altered the trajectories of their careers and more. Indeed, the richness in these stories lies in the award winners’ willingness to open up to share some intimate details about their personal and professional lives.

These stories are more than informational; they are inspirational and aspirational as well. These award winners serve as a reminder that it’s not only what one does that is important but also how one goes about doing it that matters. As David J. Stafford, FE&S2012 Hall of Famer once told me, “When we all pass away, which will happen one day — hopefully later rather than sooner — the money stays above ground. It’s the integrity that goes with you.” And it’s that integrity that we celebrate in telling the stories of these award-winning foodservice professionals.