E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


Thoughts Heading to The NAFEM Show

It’s been four years since the last NAFEM Show and a lot has changed in the foodservice industry.

Pushing aside the ongoing impact of the pandemic for a moment, perhaps nothing’s affected the industry more than consolidation that’s occurred over the past four years. It will be interesting to see how some of this plays out on the show floor in terms of how integrated some of these acquisitions are into their new companies and how well the various brands are or are intending to work together.

For example, Hoshizaki America, Lancer Worldwide, and Jackson WWS will exhibit for the first time under the new name of the Hoshizaki Alliance. Per a release announcing this new alignment, “the Hoshizaki Alliance members’ goal is to provide integrated solutions to customers through innovative quality products.”

Really, though, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For example, since the last The NAFEM Show few manufacturers have been as active in the acquisition arena as Middleby Corp. Some of Middleby’s foodservice acquisitions since February 2019 include RAM Fryer Dispensers, Powerhouse Dynamics, SS Brewtech, Deutsch Beverage Technology, Standex Cooking Solutions Group, Imperial Cooking Equipment, United Foodservice Equipment (China) and Marco Beverage. It will be interesting to see how some of these brands come together on the show floor. Middleby’s already taken a step toward showing how its portfolio of foodservice brands work together, as well as side by side, in its Middleby Innovation Kitchen in Dallas.

Ali Group has been very active and transformative in its acquisitions since the last show, too. Notably, the company made headlines by completing its purchase of Welbilt in July of 2022 and since then has spent considerable time updating the management and sales organizations that support its vast portfolio of brands. Since the last The NAFEM Show, Ali Group also purchased a handful of other companies, including Montague and Kold Draft.

Welbilt is not the only conglomerate to change hands since the last NAFEM Show, though. Electrolux Professional acquired Unified Brands from Dover. For Ali Group’s deal to buy Welbilt to gain government approval, it had to sell off Manitowoc Ice, which is now owned by Pentair. Even Hatco got into the M&A game by purchasing American Range and Food Warming Equipment in the past year.

By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive list of the M&A activity since the last time the industry gathered for The NAFEM Show. Rather, it’s meant to simply illustrate the fact that there’s been plenty of activity in this area; enough to make me curious as to learn how things are going for these players as well as their competitors.

And let’s not look past the fact that plenty has happened on the dealer front. Singer Equipment Co., for example, has acquired Thompson & Little and Kittredge Equipment Co. since the last The NAFEM Show. And Bargreen Ellingson purchased Bintz, among other companies. And don’t get me started on all of the acquisitions taking place in the service agent sector the past couple of years, driven mainly by Parts Town, Smart Care and Tech24. There’s way too much to delve into there. In other words, the companies represented by those walking the aisles will have gone through some significant changes, too.

The point is this: four years between NAFEM Shows is more than enough to build anticipation for this year’s event. But all of the M&A activity and the countless new products I see listed on N+ (The NAFEM Show app) adds even more juice to this show.