Join the Conversation
By Thomas Kuk
PresidentAmerican Society of Baking
Rarely in today’s frantic business climate does anyone stop and take a moment to compliment someone else for simply doing what he is supposed to do. That’s especially true for the American Society of Baking, an organization that has a history of 80-plus years and is often misperceived as “too traditional” and undervalued by corporate baking.
Dan Herzog, director of quality at Gonnella Baking in Chicago, is an exception to that rule. Recently, I received the following note from Dan regarding our upcoming technical conference.
“As usual, ASB has a very dynamic line of great speakers. This year looks outstanding. I am proud to be an ASB member. The Society continues to stay current, focused on emerging trends, and works hard to advance our industry forward.”
Dan’s brief note summarizes two strategic goals that we have set for ourselves — the notion of relevancy and continued growth.
Relevancy is vitally important in today’s business climate. In March, the Society will celebrate its 81st year, far surpassing the legacy of many formidable baking institutions.
As an industry resource, our mission is to serve as a forum for the exchange of information, to anticipate trends, report change and offer insight to professional bakers, engineers and suppliers.
This year’s program demonstrates how relevant and timely we are. At the technical conference, which runs from March 6-9 in Chicago, our speakers will address a wide variety of topics, including whole grains, an incredibly hot topic following the recent rollout of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
The conference also will provide resources to improve R&D, state-of-the-art reports on food security technology and the latest developments in process controls and enzyme technology. These are all very relevant to today’s bakers.
Bruce Peterson, vice president of perishables for Wal-Mart, America’s No. 1 retailer, will be sharing the podium during our Leadership Forum. His insights into what his company wants from you, his suppliers, make the session a must-attend event, in and of itself.
If you listen astutely to discussions in the hotel’s hallways, lounges and conference rooms, you’ll hear talk about tomorrow’s baking issues. Peer interaction is one of the best barometers in gauging issues, trends and solutions. Emerging issues tend to crystallize when differing views are presented.
Our second goal pertains to membership growth and the role that not-for-profit organizations play within the industry. If historical trends are any indicator, investment in professional development and continuing education is equally important to long-term prosperity.
Employee morale reflects the level of confidence the industry portrays regarding itself. History tells us that. During those years following World War II, which some believe the most technologically productive and prosperous, there was a climate that promoted both community and social responsibility. Information and ideas were exchanged in local baking production club meetings, on the boardwalks of Atlantic City and in the club cars of cross-country trains sprinting to the Society’s meetings in Chicago.
The baking industry flourished because leadership fostered and rewarded creative thinking, community participation and ingenuity. Today, the medical research, computer science and engineering fields are but a few areas of business that use collaborative efforts to advance their industries. We know that productivity and profitability are inherently linked to employee confidence and skill building, while investment in equipment and capital will only help you produce for today not prepare you for tomorrow.
As we build upon our collective efforts to support the new Grain Foods Foundation, it is equally important to recognize the need to eliminate the old paradigms. The time has come to reinvest in a national dialog on the health and nutrition of baked goods to the public and to communicate among us what defines a strong and prosperous industry.
That discussion should take place at many levels, and I would encourage all related parties to invest both time and money in promoting the industry as a whole.
As a professional society, our purpose is to support the technical advancement of that dialogue. Our annual conference is an appropriate venue to begin that conversation, and we encourage you to join in.
Society Seeks Empowerment
The American Society of Baking is urging, “Empower Your People-Empower Yourself,” at its annual technical conference, which runs from March 6-9, in Chicago.
In addition to technical papers on emerging technology, food safety and formulating for new products, the conference will host a leadership forum that will focus entirely on health and convenience.
Headlining the forum will be Bruce Peterson, vice president of perishables from Wal-Mart. Peterson will address the mass merchandiser channel and how Wal-Mart has changed the future of retailing.
For more information on the conference, call 866-920-9885 or visit