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Today I’m preparing my first road trip to visit clients since the start of the pandemic. I’m excited to go meet with our people face to face for the first time in a few years since by and large, the food industry is very much about the relationships we cultivate, more so than in some of the other industries I’ve worked in.

For this trip, I booked my rental car with the new account FPSA has with Staples Advantage. Given the high cost of everything today (including rental cars), I figured the 30% discount with Avis would at least help a bit, and it did.

This reminded me of a recent conversation I had with one of our members. He was completely unaware of the Staples discounts FPSA members receive. For him, the main benefit of this membership, and perhaps the only one he really focused on, was the discount on exhibit space in our show, Process Expo. I understood that. After all, our original association was formed in the late nineteenth century for the express purpose of organizing a trade show highlighting technology for producing and packaging food. I’m sure it stayed that way for the next 100 years but then things started to change. Members needed more value for their dues.

No longer did we focus on just helping members boost their top line. We started to explore programs that would lower costs on goods and services they members were already using. Representing the purchasing power of 300 member companies, FPSA began to negotiate discounts that a single company would have a hard time obtaining on their own.

The first of these programs was Yellow Freight which should not come as a surprise given the importance (and expense) of shipping heavy industrial equipment to food processing plants around the nation. This would soon be joined by credit card processing, legal services, cost savings for energy, and Staples with more programs on the horizon. While discussing any of these programs with members, they clearly see the advantage to utilizing them, but that’s not what they seem to associate with us. At least not yet.

Given the competitive environment we work in today, that should be changing as any program that gives you an advantage, be it saving money or generating new leads, needs to be looked at. In the meantime, I enjoy watching the members that do take advantage of these programs and am pretty confident that those are the companies that will continue moving forward.

Anyone interested in hearing more about these programs or others such as online training, market research, or yes, even the trade show should feel free to reach out at any time to me. We are continually on the lookout for new programs that provide value for members and are open to any suggestions you might have.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP