2016 Conference Recap: The Future of Food Looks Pretty Bright

MAFSI Staff From Left: Administrative Assistant, Ramsey Ruether,
Associate Executive Director, Tom Jedlowski, and Executive Director, Alison Cody

Well, our members did it again.

They took another record, and obliterated it.

On January 13-16, over 570 attendees descended upon the JW Marriott in Phoenix, Arizona to learn, network, and inspire the future of food –and most importantly– the future of themselves.

At MAFSI’s 48th Business Development Conference, Repnology and Sales Management Forum, 300 manufacturers’ reps, 200 manufacturers, 70 allied partners, spouses, guests, and speakers all came ready and eager to learn, and prepare their businesses, their careers, and themselves, for what’s NEXT in food.

And learn they did.

Themed "The Future of Food. The Future of You." this year’s conference was singularly focused on providing the tools, resources, trends, and tactics to prepare attendees for the opportunities of tomorrow.

 Dave Mitchell, President, The Leadership Difference

They heard from great presenters like Ken Gronbach, a world-leading futurist and demographer, and heard his predictions on human growth, intercontinental trade, the world’s economy, politics, and of course – his thoughts on the future of food. 

Ken Gronbach, Futurist
& Demographer

They also listened with awe to people like Dave Mitchell, of The Leadership Difference, who spoke about the best ways to communicate with people, using his proven principles of applied performance and cognitive psychology; all of which were given in a straightforward, approachable, and entertaining way. 

The Masters of MAFSI

If you saw a great number of folks in hunter green blazers, you weren’t around a bunch of really great golfers. (Ok, maybe one or two.)

You were, instead, in the presence of one of MAFSI’s 19 Board of Directors. Representing a great deal of our individual regions, our board is a culmination of the unique perspectives all of our members bring. And moreover, they’re here to listen to YOUR issues, and YOUR challenges. They’re your voice to the tactical and strategic direction of our association, and they want to hear what you have to say.

The 2016 MAFSI Board of Directors - For A Complete List of Board Members, Please Click Here

Additionally, if you’re interested in becoming involved with The Board, or with one of our many committees, please feel free to let us know. Our volunteer members are the backbone of the great things we do, and we can never have too much help.  

Conference Demographics

140 rep firms and 108 factory brands were represented at this year's event which means about 50% of MAFSI member companies chose to start off the new year at MAFSI. Their attendance demonstrates a commitment to our industry, their fellow manufacturers and reps, and conveys to all channel partners they are proud to be a rep, and proud of the way they go to market.

  • Agent Member 2016 Conference Attendee Demographics: The MAFSI Conference attracted close to 300 reps from 140 rep agencies. Of the 300 attendees, 190 were rep firm principals, 89 were rep firm outside sales staff, and 14 were rep firm inside personnel.

  • Manufacturer Member 2016 Conference Attendee Demographics: The MAFSI Conference attracted 192 manufacturer attendees from 108 factories. Of the 192, 99 were executive level management (President, V.P., CFO, Director), 85 were Field Level Management (National and Regional Managers) and 8 were Customer Service Managers.

Conference Chairs of the Future

Our 2016 Conference Chairs couldn’t have put together better educational programming for our attendees. We truly can never thank them enough for their help, experience, and guidance, in making this conference the best one yet. 

Jeff Couch, The Preferred Marketing Group and MAFSI President, Wayne Jones, The Hansen Group, Danielle McMiller, Structural Concepts, Kevin Lien, Manitowoc, Dan Frigo, Hatco Corporation, Mike Steil, BSE Keystone, Tom MItchell, TLC Marketing and Chris Jeens, W.D. Colledge, Inc. and MAFSI Vice President

Sales Management Forum

On January 13th, and for the 23rd time, MAFSI held its Sales Management Forum; a dynamic educational tract addressing the unique needs of manufacturers that use independent reps. Aimed at improving the symbiotic relationships between reps and manufacturers, this one-day session consisted of 13 unique workshops for Executives, Field Level Managers, and Customer Service Personnel. Each SMF workshop provided a creative setting for sharing ideas, solving problems, and addressing the unique and dynamic partnership that exists in the relationship between the manufacturer, and the manufacturer’s representative.

Of the SMF attendees, 57 percent were first-timers – hard evidence to the growth and prominence of this program designed exclusively for manufacturers.

2016 SMF Chairs: Dan Frigo, Hatco, Danielle McMiller, Structural Concepts, and Kevin Lien, Manitowoc, all agreed. “This year’s SMF helped us not only set resolutions to improve our businesses and partnerships, but it gave a real look into where the industry is actually heading. And how we can prepare ourselves, and our businesses, for what’s next in food.”


On the same day, almost 300 reps attended our second annual Repnology, a ground-breaking MAFSI workshop dedicated to rep based technology (or 'rep-nology'). This half-day event addressed the many ways reps can better utilize technology to improve their agency’s sales and marketing functions, as well as their partnerships with their customers and manufacturers. The program, now in its second year, helped reps identify their technology needs for tomorrow, next month and next year. 

Business Development Conference

Over the next two days of the Business Development Conference, over 30 industry experts presented over 40 business, sales and marketing, and industry breakout sessions with topics ranging from house accounts, to mergers, to succession planning and e-commerce. All workshops were designed to efficiently and effectively conduct business in the future marketplace.

Our 2016 Business Development Conference & Repnology Chairs: Wayne Jones of The Hansen Group, Mike Steil, BSE Keystone, and Tom Mitchell, TLC Marketing were truly hands-on when it came to developing educational topics, picking speakers, and making it all happen. Thank you for all your help!

The conference was also host to partners of MAFSI Member Services (MMS), our Allies, and over 25 manufacturer exhibitors looking for reps. 

And, oh yeah. Almost forgot. We had a LOT of fun, too.

From upper left: Radek Stypulkowsi, AutoQuotes, Inc., Ed Nierstedt, Manitowoc, Tom Mitchell, TLC Marketing, and his son Sam, and Marianne Schussler-Yenor, Emma Johnson, and Liz Genereux all of Lakeside Manufacturing, Inc.

What Attendees Thought

Agent Member: “Thank you MAFSI for putting on such a wonderful event and bringing our industry together. The whole event was executed flawlessly from the speakers, to the after hour events as well. The break out sessions were great, but I felt the keynote speakers were what really captured my attention and provided the ‘Wow Factor.’ Although we are all busy with our day to day business operations, it was time well spent and I look forward to becoming more involved with the next conference.” - Michael Riley of The Hansen Group

Manufacturer Member: “This was my first MAFSI conference, and it was absolutely fantastic. (Not to mention getting out of Milwaukee in the wintertime!) I sat through many high-energy speakers and breakouts, and was impressed with the variety and quality of presentations. I learned exciting things about spec credits, current and future trends in the industry — and a whole lot more. I can’t wait to come back for 2018!” - Joe Restivo of Perlick

Manufacturer Customer Service Manager: "My first MAFSI Conference was a great introduction to the food service industry. I’ve been with MEIKO for eight months and this was a great way to meet the teams from the Rep Agencies that we work with on a daily basis as well as other manufacturers. As far as the instructors and the topics discussed during the conference, they were all incredible. We will be taking information from 'Transforming Teams into Customer Care Crusaders,' 'The Best Rep Habits for Providing Outstanding Principals & Customer Support' and 'The Seven EL-ements of Great Leadership' from the conference and implement them into our Customer Service Group. This will definitely improve our overall customer service experience and make it easier to do business with MEIKO." - Ken Adams, of MEIKO USA, Inc.

What Our Speakers Thought

“As a professional speaker and author, I attend nearly 100 events a year.  The MAFSI Conference was exceptionally impressive for two reasons.  First, the quality of the planning and execution of the event was unparalleled.  Every detail was anticipated and delivered in ways that exceeded my experienced expectations.  It was truly amazing.  Second, the enthusiasm of the attendees was astonishing.  I was placed near the end of the event.  At some conferences, this may have reduced turnout as people chose to leave early.  Not the MAFSI members.  They attended, laughed, learned and all with the energy you would expect of a kickoff presentation.  I was honored, and it reflects the quality of both the attendees and the program.” – Dave Mitchell, President, The Leadership Difference 

What Operators Thought

"I work in hospitality in the college and university sector and was honored to be a speaker at the conference. As an operator, I rely on reps to help update me on equipment and trends and to help source products we identify for our operations. As a first time MAFSI attendee I was able to connect with reps and manufactures in a professional development setting that offered valuable education sessions as well as networking opportunities to discuss current challenges and our needs for the future. It also provided an amazing opportunity for us to share feedback and insights with reps and manufactures to better understand how to connect with us. The takeaways from the sessions and networking made this truly an invaluable experience. The conference was top notch from beginning to end and I highly recommend the MAFSI conference for industry partners and representatives.” – Larry Moore, Assistant Director, Office of Student Life Dining Services, The Ohio State University

Thank You Icons & Presidents Both Present and Past

Jeff Couch, current MAFSI President: “This year’s conference was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The keynotes, the breakouts, the networking – all of it was off the charts. It’s a real privilege to contribute to such an amazing group of professionals who’re challenging the industry like this. The amount of ideas and knowledge exchanged were nothing short of extraordinary. It makes me proud to be a rep, and I hope it made others feel the same way.”

This year's conference was extra special due to attendance by retired MAFSI Icon, Jim Flood from Professional Reps of Arizona, as well as the 12 past presidents in attendance. We would be nothing without your past guidance and knowledge. Thank you!

We would like to take one more opportunity to thank the members who attended, and the companies that sponsored this year's event.

Simply put, you made everything possible!

2016 Sponsors




Dining Essentials
Federal Industries
Jackson Warewashing Systems, Inc.
Squier Associates, Inc.
Structural Concepts
The Preferred Marketing Group


BSE Marketing & BSE Keystone
E.Ruff & Associates
Eaton Marketing & Associates
Edlund Co.
Georgia Power Company
Hestan Commercial Corporation
Ovention, Inc.


Channel Manufacturing Inc.
Hollander Company
HRI, Inc.
InterMetro Industries Corporation
Johnson Pike & Associates, Inc.
KCL/Kochman Consultants, Ltd.
KLH Marketing Inc.
New Age Industrial Corporation, Inc.
Orgo, Inc.
Posternak Bauer Aitkenhead Cantamessa
Server Products, Inc.
South Eastern Manufacturers’ Agents, Inc. (SEMA)
Tafco – TMP Manufacturing Co.
TD Marketing Company, Inc.
Thermodyne Foodservice Products, Inc.
Two Rivers Enterprises
Vader and Landgraf, Inc.
W.D. Colledge Co., Ltd.

Mark your calendars for our next 2018 MAFSI Conference
to be held January 24-27, 2018 at the Naples Grande Resort in beautiful Naples, Florida.