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Talk about coming down to the wire. One company tells me we can’t produce the pet treats ahead of the show in their facility due to USDA regulations. Another would like to help us but it turns out they don’t have the freezer capacity that we need. On another line, the final testing and ingredient calculations were just given to me, and my supplier has not yet confirmed he can deliver them in time. If that’s not enough, I now find out that the convention center wants to charge me $15k to hook up the internet to one of the lines. Ugh! At least I have a company like Daily’s Meats, donating a huge load of pork bellies for the Bacon Line. At least one area I don’t need to worry about!

That might sound like complaining on my part, but it’s not. Putting together three live production lines with actual ingredients has never been easy for us at Process Expo, but since we launched these projects for the first time at the 2017 show, these lines have never failed us and certainly served as one of the highlights of each edition of the show. Hamburger patties, kibble, gluten-free focaccia, meatballs, sliced cheese, summer sausage, turkey cold cuts, frozen pizza, cookies, and sausage links. Talk about a variety of different foods and processes. This year it’s sliced bacon, pet treats and frozen empanadas. For a marketer and a linguist, I swear I never expected my career to take me in this direction. And honestly, if it were just me, I would have failed years ago. But luckily, that’s not the case.

In this respect, you might say my job is more like herding the cats … provided the cats had advanced degrees in engineering, and many years of experience building lines and satisfying a wide range of food products. In fact, with each phone call or email alerting me to an issue, I take a deep breath and remind myself of the collective brain power in each of these lines. There’s no way we can fail. My participants in the lines simply won’t allow it. They know that in two weeks, more than half of all Process Expo attendees will visit at least one production line demonstration, and for that reason, they’ll come up with a solution to whatever comes our way. Does that mean I won’t be stressed from now until the end of the show on the 25th? No chance. But with great engineering firms working as project managers (Dennis Group, Burns & McDonnell, and CRB), and the 31 companies that are providing equipment and their technical know-how, I know we’re in great shape.

I hope you’ll come see just how true it is what I’m saying. Registration for the show is still open and we’ll be running demonstrations of each of the lines throughout the day from October 23rd through the 25th. Not a manufacturer of pet treats, empanadas, or bacon? That’s the beauty of these lines, most of the pieces of equipment in these lines have applications with other products or in completely different segments. Join us in Chicago to see what might work for your operations!

I’ll be the one by the production lines wearing a hole in the carpet as I pace back and forth! See you there.

Andy Drennan

Senior Vice President, FPSA