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I’ve thought it many times, and who knows, maybe some of the times I was right. “I know what my customer wants.” But do I really?

With twenty-five years on the job, sure, I have a wealth of experience about what my customers have told me. But with the pace of change in this world, have I truly kept up with what my customers are going through? Maybe in some cases, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

That brings me to a huge change that FPSA leadership has implemented for our March Conference. Gone is the Annual Conference where we brought in paid speakers meant to inspire attendees to rise to new heights, replaced with the Executive Exchange & Conference featuring a program meant to address critical issues that food manufacturers are having, presented by subject matter experts, many of which work for prominent CPG firms.

Not that there is anything wrong with paid speakers who tell a great story we can learn from. Honestly, we have had a number of those over the years that we felt delivered a great message, but how long does that message stay with you? How does it better prepare you to work with your customers and prospects?

This year’s program will focus on a number of topics to do just that. These include Building the Business Case for Sustainability in Food Processing; Greenfield or Brownfield: Challenges in Building Today’s New Plants; Addressing Workforce Shortages for the Long Term; and Tapping into the Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in the Food Industry. You don’t work in these areas? Maybe not, but do the end-users of your products? That’s the point. Having a better understanding of what keeps the customer up at night, helps you in doing business with them.

With registration pacing well ahead of the 2023 Conference, I’m guessing that our members see the value in this program change. There is still time to sign up and join us in gorgeous Indian Wells. March 26-28 is just around the bend.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP