This was the subject line of one of the first of many, many e-mails, calls and even handwritten notes I received following this year's Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala. Oh, what a night, indeed. Some of the evening's highlights include a record-sized crowd, excitement, humor, good will and even a few tears.

But how important are industry awards?

It's a fair question and one that we here at FE&S have not shied away from asking ourselves. On one hand industry awards can seem to be merely self-serving; a professional community going out of its way to pat itself on the back for a job well done. But to anyone who had the good fortune to experience the heartfelt acceptance speeches of the deserving recipients at the 2012 Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala, well, we know that this is not the case. The meaning and the impact of these awards run much deeper than that.

The FE&S Dealer of the Year, DSR of the Year, Top Achiever Awards, and Hall of Fame Award, are symbols of achievement in the E&S Industry, making award winners justifiably proud to receive this recognition. For the E&S Industry, these awards have come to represent the standards by which others will be judged and the measuring stick that future foodservice professionals and winners will have to exceed.

If one were to search the terms FE&S editors use to describe the various winners words and phrases like honesty, integrity, industrious, community-minded, forward thinking, thought-leader, and fair would come up again and again. And this is with good reason, after all these are the attributes that this and any other industry would choose to promote amongst its membership in order to build a solid base for future prosperity and growth.

So, thank you to all the sponsors and attendees who made FE&S' 2012 Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards celebration possible. We here at FE&S never forget that this is not, strictly speaking, our industry. We only have the privilege of covering it for our readers: the professionals who buy, sell, recommend and service foodservice equipment and supplies. And we remain humbled by the trust that you place in FE&S to make sure that these industry awards are handled in a fitting and respectful manner.

Please enjoy reading all about this year's Hall of Fame winner, Dave Stafford Sr., of Stafford-Smith. We'll be posting a taste of the wonderful speeches from this year's award winners here.