Pushing Industry Tech Forward and Dealing with Labor Challenges

Tracy Mulqueen
Publisher, FEDA News & Views
[email protected]

The longest year in history was 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar declared a “transitional year” to reset what had become a messy solar calendar to the lunar cycle we follow today. This meant extending that year from 360 days to 445 days – three additional months! This change corrected Europe’s annual calendar but played havoc with everyone’s lives during the transition. As a result, 46 B.C. became known as the “last year of confusion.”

Sometimes having more time in our day, week or year might sound appealing, but given how long 2022 felt to many in the industry, adding three more months might have been too much for most of us. This is especially true for FEDA, which not only continued to educate members and supply new resources on the constantly changing challenges facing dealers but was absorbed by a critical new initiative that is proving invaluable to the entire industry’s future.

FEDA’s 2022 activities began with the launch of a new data repository – now named the FEDA Data Portal and Support Center – and the corresponding FEDA Learn Conference, which kicked off the initial training process for the project. The past year has brought so many companies and people together in tremendously productive ways to create one of the most innovative data governance tools ever achieved for the foodservice equipment and supplies industry. With it comes modern tech options for storing, sharing, editing and managing product data. The unanticipated and significantly increased vendor costs experienced in 2021 only heightened our drive to carry out this critical work, and the product and service milestones we accomplished are now moving us toward the outcomes dealers and manufacturers need to fully use the data portal.

FEDA’s members have shared in that struggle. Just as the Romans in 46 B.C., it’s been an arduous and laborious transitional year for dealers, who have carried the burden of extra costs, increased staff time, and data and operational disruptions. Manufacturers have made similar sacrifices as they strive to get product data uploaded and keep it current. There have been bumps, but every day is getting better, and it is finally becoming routine for many.

Regardless, these stoic companies continue to push FEDA to make the data portal exactly what it must be – and we are delivering on those requirements. Full product uploads and editing via the new data portal and support center will be completed soon, providing two of the most requested elements both dealers and manufacturers need.

Adding to our members’ workloads was a big ask in a year where the drastic labor shortage is being felt in every part of the nation. FEDA was certainly not immune to that struggle in 2022. Recruiting the right tech talent and growing FEDA’s leadership team stretched our staff and partners, but the right people are in place now. With FEDA’s expanded use of the SmartSource Management support team and the addition of new Chief Program Officer Valentina Tomov, the association is positioned to reach all its goals.

I’m especially thrilled to welcome Valentina to the team. Having previously worked with her, I’ve witnessed firsthand Valentina’s contributions to business association and economic development programs, and I can affirm she is one of the most determined leaders I’ve ever known. Valentina is incredibly smart, experienced and focused and I’m confident our members and partners will truly appreciate all she brings to FEDA.

With the long days of 2022 finally behind us, we hope you’ll be pleased with what FEDA and the industry present in 2023 and look forward to as much involvement from everyone as possible.