BEMA has announced that its 2024 award recipient is Mike Gude.

BEMA's Fred Springer Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 2001 to honor those who go above and beyond, impacting the organization and the industry in a variety of ways. In 2002, BEMA recognized Ed Meise, Al Formo, and Edwin “Eddie” Lanham as the first recipients of the Award. In 2018, BEMA renamed the award to recognize the lifelong contribution of Fred Springer to BEMA and the industry. 

"There is a phrase some of you out there in the baking industry may be familiar with. 'You can fake caring, but you can’t fake showing up.' There’s also a good chance you’re acquainted with the person the quote is associated with," says Gude.

Gude became involved with the baking industry 43 years ago. In true exploratory fashion, he wanted to be a grain trader, making regular visits to the Board of Trade floor to watch the traders in action. On one of these visits, Gude noticed a Sosland ad looking for someone to help organize a conference in China. This soon evolved into a new job selling advertising for Milling & Baking News, which at the time featured a special insert called Baking Equipment Quarterly magazine, which focused on the process side of baking. This was the precursor to Baking & Snack magazine.

As he sought to learn more about the baking equipment industry and its major players, Gude naturally found his way to BEMA because, “that’s where the customers were.” As media, he couldn’t attend as a member, but with a little collaboration from then-president, John Van Larr, he found his way into the association as a member and this where he would begin to make his mark.

Like many BEMA members, Gude and his family have found a place among the BEMA family. Throughout this journey, Mike has been a key contributor in defining and re-defining the evolving concept of service within the industry. This includes embracing the concept of being a Go Giver—giving with the expectation of receiving nothing in return.

Gude shines as an example of a Go Giver who understands that a multitude of returns come through service to others. This includes a caveat that one never gets too caught up in the work. Instead, focus on the people in your business and in your life and when those people and projects come together, that is the true magic of service.

“I know what Fred Springer has accomplished in his career and it’s very humbling to be recognized for a service award named for Fred,” he said. “I’ve always tried to follow Fred’s all-in philosophy, to do whatever it takes, to pitch in, and know that it might even be risky to do so. But ultimately, to know that once the decision is made, everyone is committed to it.”

Lifetime Achievement Award winners:

2002 – Ed Meise, Al Formo, Edwin “Eddie” Lanham
2003 – Tom Belshaw, Dale S. Lecrone, Robert Loeb
2004 – Jim Fay
2006 – Bill Pulver, Fred Pfening II
2007 – Dick Pulver
2008 – Sterrett Campbell, Charles Burford
2010 – John van Laar, Robert Zielsdorf
2012 – Don Ivey
2013 – Steve Wright
2015 – Hans van der Maarel
2018 – Fred Springer
2019 – Rick Hoskins
2023 – DJ LeCrone
2024 – Mike Gude

Related: BEMA welcomes new team members