Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: Trade Show Business
By Doug Picklyk
Way back in early May I had the opportunity to attend Bakery Showcase 2016, the Baking Association of Canada’s national trade show and conference, and I was thrilled by the level of interest and familiarity bakers from across the country had with this magazine, especially our resident chef, Jake the Baker.
I was also impressed by the willingness of both exhibitors and attendees at the event to share details with me about their businesses and how they see the industry changing.
For the most part, despite a relatively stagnant economy, most everybody I spoke with was positive about their businesses. Exhibitors were keen to share how their latest product or service was meeting the demands of current consumer trends, and bakers were inspired by the equipment or ingredients on display imagining ways to innovate and move their operations forward.
Shows like these are great windows into an industry, and Showcase 2016 provided a glimpse into the mood of bakeries within Canada. This month I’ll be travelling to Las Vegas to experience the International Baking Industry Exposition where I expect to be presented with a flood of technical information, up-to-date consumer trend reports and a pleasing assault to my senses including amazing aromas, fresh tastes and colourful eye-catching displays.
Already some exhibitors have been sharing small details about their booth highlights. But for attendees, beyond the search for new equipment to make your bakeries more efficient, there is an educational program with over 90 sessions on a vast array of topics covering all aspects of the business.
And of course there is the casual networking that can also be very beneficial. In fact it was during a lunch break at Showcase 2016 when I shared a table with a gentleman from Calgary who opened my eyes to a different aspect of the business. It was his daughter who owned a bakery business, and he took the time during our brief encounter to educate me on some of the challenges of sourcing ingredients and general supply chain management issues for bakeries. I treasure those valuable insights that were gleaned from a completely random meeting.
Sometimes, despite all of your planning, it’s chance meetings like that (or stumbling across an exhibitor you’ve never heard of that has just the solution you’re looking for) that makes the trip to these events so rewarding.
That’s the great value behind attending trade shows and industry events of all sizes, whether local or international. Of course it’s often challenging to schedule time away from a business that requires plenty of hands-on attention, but being able to get a broader perspective on the industry whenever you can is very important. The sights, sounds and messages shared among a large group of individuals with a common interest in baking can only serve to be inspirational and lead to productive innovation.
For those unable to make the trip to Vegas, I’ll be sharing a report in the months ahead. But while I’m there I do expect to stumble across a number of Canadians walking the halls and taking in the sessions of IBIE 2016, and if I’m lucky I’ll be able to share a lunch table with one of you and learn even more about what makes this industry tick.