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From the Desk of the Chairman of the Board

By Rick Findlay posted 08-20-2019 11:28

If there is one constant, it is change.

This year, IDDBA took a big step, and moved into a new building in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. Anyone who has been to our old home office shouldn't have much trouble finding the new one, just a few minutes away. Unlike the previous building, we own this one, and we're excited to have a space that really suits our organization.

Another big change will be coming soon too, but you knew this was on the way. The last time I wrote to you all, I was halfway through the journey as Chairman of the Board for IDDBA. I was following in some illustrious footsteps - @Erik Waterkotte, Vice President of Sales for The Fresh Food Group, and @Jewel Hunt, the Group Vice President of eCommerce for Albertsons Companies. Some of you may already know who is coming next to follow me - if you don't, you'll find out very soon! Rest assured, the new Chair and everyone else on the board will be looking to the horizon to make sure we all have a brighter future!

The ongoing collective mission of IDDBA can be captured in part by that vision: "Growing the Future". Why we even have an amazing scholarship that has a name you might be able to guess - the Scholarship for Growing the Future - and it is just one of the many things that IDDBA does for its member-companies, making every single one of your companies have that much more to offer so that you can find people who want a career instead of just a job.

That's something that really resonates with me. When I was just starting out, young and looking to build a family, I knew there could be a career here in our industry. These days, things might be more uncertain for young people than it has been in some time, and we need to show them that they can have a future with us, if they want it. We have a lot to offer someone starting out in our industry, and if we can show them a future with us that is exciting and inspiring, we can bring them on board for decades to come.

The Scholarship for Growing the Future is one of the ways that IDDBA helps our members-companies, by showing your employees how much opportunity they have to grow within our industry and find a career. We take education and professional development seriously, and that's why we're connecting current industry professionals with leading researchers at our Advanced Management and Leadership Program, this September, so that the cutting edge being discovered in our universities can continue to be in reach for established members of our community.

In addition, we're bringing new blood from the universities back into the industry with our Fresh Careers program, back for a second year, giving university students an opportunity to see the vitality of our industry as they network at our annual trade show, #IDDBA19, held this year in Orlando. One of those exciting and vital moments at #IDDBA19 was an event we held in collaboration with our friends at Winsight Grocery Business: we raised up forty-five outstanding individuals, honoring them as examples to the industry for their thoughtful and inspirational innovations at the Champions of Change awards ceremony

Speaking of IDDBA19…. We had over 10,000 people from almost fifty countries join us in Orlando, making it our largest trade show yet! #IDDBA19 also marked an important shift in our thinking: the What's in Store Live debut on our show floor wasn't just a rebranding of our Show and Sell Center, it was a recognition that we were bringing the constant attention we put into trends and research into practice live at our show, and that it was a natural continuation of the work we do all year, published in documents like What's in Store - which incidentally also moved to online publication this year. All of this is a part of a grand strategy to make sure to continuously be connecting our members with the cutting edge of trends in the industry. IDDBA CEO @Mike Eardley likes to talk about how fast the omni-channel world is, and we're committing to having our show not just keep pace in that world, but set the pace.

In addition to What's in Store Live, our show floor had almost 900 hundred exhibitors, with 250 companies using our event to show off their brand new innovations. With all that food, I'm pleased to say that by the end of the show, we were able to donate over 175,000 pounds of food to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Giving back feels good, and we were grateful to be able to partner with such a fine organization and help support people in the communities near our trade show.
Plus, just announced last week we have been recognized by Trade Show News Network (TSNN) for our sustainability efforts. It is our responsibility to the industry and consumer to always be cognizant of how what we do impacts the future.

More personally, at #IDDBA19 I was excited to award my friend @Rick Goodman the 2019 Chairman's Award for his lifetime of service and contributions to our industry, and he accepted the award with the kind of humility and humor everyone who knows him has come to expect. It was an honor to be able to give him this award, and moments like that are the kind of thing that makes me wish I could stay on as Chair for another year, to honor another inspirational leader like Rick.

One of the reasons I think that change is fundamental to our world is that innovation and inspiration are at the center of the grocery industry. If you're going to thrive, you have to continually embrace the best of new ideas. When I was first getting started, we weren't thinking about natural and organic products like we do today. New ideas like the 'grocerant' only emerged in the last few years. There will be new trends and changes coming down the line we can't yet predict. One of the reasons I'm proud to have taken my role as Chair for IDDBA over this past year has been to be at the forefront of an organization that is always looking forward to the future's next changes while still cultivating a community that has grown together for a long time.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey, and I can't wait to see what changes come with the next Chair, and the next trade show. See you in Indy for IDDBA 20.

I'll see you there, in the future!

Rick Findlay​​​​
1 comment



08-22-2019 06:46

Rick, Thank you for your leadership and enthusiasm over the past year. The influence you have provided over the past years on the executive committee and leadership in the industry will always be remembered.  You are a role model for many, and continue to serve this wonderful industry with the love you have for it all.
Thanks for being a mentor, a visionary, a leader, and most importantly a Friend.
See you in Indy,