Noting that consolidation and other factors perpetually impact the baking industry, the chairman of the American Society of Baking suggests the organization must be prepared to harness those winds of change.

Rowdy Brixey, ASB’s chairman, told attendees at the society’s annual meeting last week that consolidation of baking companies has made it difficult to grow membership and expand the organization’s base. Over the years, the society has been impacted by a combination of industry consolidation and the fact that many companies’ top executives don’t fully comprehend the value of ASB membership and attending its yearly conference.

“Companies that once found great value in attending have been replaced, displaced and consolidated or simply find no value in required attendance,” he said. “For others, this means where you could once sell your equipment, ingredients and services to many different bakers, vendors now face the fact that you may be either ‘in’ or ‘out.’”

As the winds of change continue to blow, he added, their speed and direction are always changing. The challenge for the society is to find a way to identify opportunities as the industry evolves and find ways to strengthen ASB as it heads toward the future.

“ASB must adapt and focus on providing the substance necessary to attract new members and tip the scales in favor of attendance,” Brixey said. “We must foresee the forces at play and be out in the front of the curve and our recent successes in growth surely cannot be sustained. In the coming year, be it ever so short, I will be challenging this society’s leadership to provide strategic plans for addressing our future growth and our ability to meet the needs of our changing industry.”

That’s why Brixey adapted the theme of “Nourishing for Generations” and encouraged members to live up to the “creed of the bakery engineers” to provide value to the organization in more ways than one.

“The baking industry has a long, rich history of providing nourishment for the masses, and ASB, too, has a long history of providing nourishment to our members for more than 80 years,” he said. “We must prepare and protect our ability to ensure this continues to co-exist and fulfill the needs of our respective audiences.”