From Wednesday June 20 through Friday June 22, Central Content Coordinator Tracey Rector and Product Data Coordinator Autumn Faust attended Vollrath‘s “Vollrath University” in Sheboygan, Wis.
The training included both classroom presentations and hands-on exercises to help members of the foodservice industry gain more product knowledge on equipment and smallwares. The event concluded with a trip through Vollrath’s facilities to show how their products are made.
Below is a photo slideshow from the event. (For more information on any of these pictures, click image to view captions).
Normally our Week in Brief covers the week’s top information for the foodservice industry–but this week we’re mixing it up! We hope you’ve enjoyed our buying guide blogs this week and to come full circle, want to be sure you know Central has several buying guides to help you make a purchase. Here are the buying guides we currently have, and check back as we will continue to add more over the next few months. Be sure to bookmark our buying guide homepage.
McCormick Place is the perfect venue for an event as large as the NRA Show, with 2.6 million square foot exhibit halls and ceilings up to 50 feet high. The show uses every inch of space they reserve, with many booths tightly squeezed in together. Then there are the thousands of people bumping into each other as they go from booth to booth to see the latest and greatest products and taste different foods and beverages.
This year the event took up two of McCormick Place’s massive halls and was comprised of around 1,856 exhibitors of the foodservice and hospitality industry.
Attendees and Exhibitors
What’s great about the NRA Show is anyone from a company can attend and get a meaningful experience as it provides several learning and networking opportunities–whether it’s a company’s buyer or member of a marketing department. As you walk through the event and glance at different badges, you truly see the several different types of people that come to visit the show.
While attendees gain product knowledge and learn about other companies, exhibitors get a just as meaningful experience.
NRA said exhibitors are able to “connect with a massive group of high-level decision-makers and influencers from all across the foodservice and hospitality industry.”
As a bonus, NRA said after the show, those who attended plan to spend an average of $429,600 with exhibitors they connected with.
Schedule and Events
This year’s show had a jam packed schedule with the show floor being open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except only open until 3 p.m. on the last day) and various events, attractions, educational sessions and demonstrations.
On Sunday May 6, the show’s keynote speaker was President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation. According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, a large portion of his one-hour speech pertained to childhood obesity. He also praised the NRA for their commitment to children’s health initiatives. (Read the article for more information).
This year was the first year for the Inaugural Operator Innovations Awards, “a program for commercial and non-commercial operators who transform the industry with their extraordinary creativity and commitment.” Winners were announced at the Destination: Celebration event on May 5. (Check out the nominees and the winners).
As there are thousands in attendance or interested in the show, social media helps to keep everyone involved, whether they are attending or not.
Social media was heavily used and enabled everyone to stay connected via NRA’s Facebook, Twitter (also using #NRA2012), LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr accounts. People were also able to subscribe to the show press room’s RSS feed.
Those who weren’t able to attend or want to re-live certain events can benefit from all of NRA’s different social media platforms for videos, pictures and more.
Central has had a presence at the NRA Show since 1983, which is two years after we opened. Product Consultant Steve White has been attending the show on and off since 1988—and to the left is a photo of all his different badges from over the years.
It was Central Product Consultant Karin Romani’s first year attending the show and said it was a really great learning experience.
“I ate my way through the show,” she said, as everyone at the show does. “But I learned about the new NSF-2012 rules going into effect in November (that will affect slicer manufacturers for one thing). And I got to see a few new models of fryers and ranges at the American Range booth—fryers with a built in filter that filters continually while frying. (I also saw) a commercial range that has a pilot light like a residential range that turns off between uses rather than staying on continually like most commercial ones.”
Romani added she saw a new line of flash freezers that she had been looking into for a customer.
“It was really nice to be able to see so many things in one place,” she said.
That essentially is the best way to describe the show—everything in one space with tons of innovative products.
Next year’s event will be at McCormick Place again, from May 18-21.
If you attended the NRA Show, please let us know what you thought! What were some of the favorite products you saw or food items you tried?
For all types of foodservice establishments, both striving and struggling, reliable equipment is a must. That being said, it needs to be made a priority to take care of equipment, train employees on proper handling and keep up with the regularly scheduled maintenance.
Even with all the maintenance and proper handling in the world, there always comes a point when reality sets in and a product just becomes too old, doesn’t run as efficiently, develops problems and needs to be replaced. But many places don’t make replacing old equipment a priority, despite being such a staple to a foodservice.
So Why Don’t Places Make Equipment a Priority?
For some it’s budget restrictions while for others it’s simply procrastination. What places don’t realize is there comes a point when procrastination can actually hurt a business. Failing equipment will have an impact on the day to day business.
“In this economy, the only reason to purchase a replacement piece of equipment is to save on energy,” said Central Product Consultant, Rick Arenstein. “And the newer units, especially fryers, they are a lot more energy efficient than older models.”
Central and Vulcan: One Powerful Team
To make the decision to purchase new equipment easier for foodservices, Central teamed up with Vulcan, one of the world’s largest commercial cooking equipment manufacturers, for an exclusive three-month promotion that began in January.
What makes this promotion so beneficial to foodservices in need of new equipment is it offers the lowest price and free shipping on all Vulcan products available at Central.
There is such a wide variety of Vulcan products available from gas ranges to convection steamers. There are even several products that are Energy Star qualified as well. And if all that wasn’t enough, all Vulcan equipment comes with free start up from Hobart sales and service.
This promotion couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as it helps those counting every penny to those with extra money in their budget. Either way, the promotion is set to expire at the end of March, so time is running out.
All Vulcan equipment on sale is on Central’s website. For those unsure of what to buy, our Product Consultants have years of foodservice experience and can do all the work. They can be reached at (800) 215-9293.
Have you recently upgraded or purchased new equipment? How has it increased productivity?