BEMA bolsters I.B.I.E.'s presence at iba 2015

by Dan Malovany
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Kerwin Brown, BEMA president and chief executive officer, said that going forward, BEMA’s main objective is to strengthen the industry.

MUNICH, GERMANY – When you’re one of the biggest, you have to play in the big leagues. That’s the philosophy that the International Baking Industry Exposition is taking at iba 2015 in Munich, said Kerwin Brown, BEMA president and chief executive officer.

I.B.I.E.’s heightened profile at the show is part of a concerted effort by BEM and the American Bakers Association to promote next year’s event, which runs Oct. 8-11, 2016, in Las Vegas.

“We made the U.S. Pavilion lounge an I.B.I.E. lounge,” Mr. Brown said. “We wanted to work with the pavilion’s organizers, Kallman Associates, to give I.B.I.E. a lot more exposure during the show with posters promoting our show. It’s all about telling everyone how great a show we have.”

Since the last I.B.I.E. in 2013, Mr. Brown and I.B.I.E. committee members have attended numerous bakery exhibitions in Russia, the Middle East and Asia, which has provided a more global view of the international baking community.

“When we go to shows like iba, we’re always asking ourselves what we can do to make I.B.I.E. better,” Mr. Brown noted.

“From my perspective, when we just stay in the U.S., we tend to think we’re the center of the universe,” Mr. Brown said. “When we go to these other shows, we get a much broader perspective and exposure to so many different cultures. It gives us an appreciation for our international exhibitors and attendees and opens our eyes with this global perspective. In 2016, our whole international lounge is changing to make it more of a draw and a great place to be.”

In 2016, I.B.I.E.’s international lounge will feature more translators and enhanced features for conducting business in a more comfortable environment. In 2013, I.B.I.E. attracted a record attendance with visitors from 105 countries.

“Our focus is on growing our international exposure and really being a great host for our international attendees,” Mr. Brown said. “When you go to these international exhibitions, you see who is doing it right and not doing it right, and it gives you that ‘outsider’s perspective’ of what the international community thinks of our show.”

In addition to promoting I.B.I.E., BEMA’s presence at iba allows the staff to visit with international members who do not regularly attend the association’s Winter Summit and annual meetings.

Celebrating his 10 years at BEMA, Mr. Brown noted the group’s board of directors has honed the association’s mission over the years to provide not only enhanced networking opportunities through events like BEMA Connect, but also educational initiatives through Baking Industry Forum; the baking industry sanitation workshops; learn-to-train programs; and BEMA-U and its High Performing Leadership Workshop, which will be held Nov. 2-4 in Chicago.

“Our educational initiatives have grown to a whole new level,” said Mr. Brown, looking back to when he joined BEMA in 2005. “In a humble way, I see that we now have a much bigger footprint and relevance in our industry. It requires the work of a lot of people. Our board is super-engaged. Most of the initiatives we’re doing now aren’t staff generated. They come from directors on the board combined with the staff dreaming about what we might be one day. It’s been a fun ride. You have to stay humble in what you’re doing and keep your nose down and work hard.”

Going forward, BEMA’s main objective is to strengthen the industry, Mr. Brown said.

“We’re not just growing because we want to grow,” he noted. “We’re growing because we want people to find value in what we do.”

Of course, all work and no play makes for a dull day. After a long Monday, Sept. 14, on the show floor, about 200 BEMA members and their customers were to spend their evening at the trade fair’s Oktoberfest tent, which features traditional Bavarian beer, food and, of course, music. Organized by BEMA, the party contingent reserved 25 tables for the networking gathering.

“That’s what we do. We help people connect,” Mr. Brown said. “We reserved several tables at the 2012 iba show. This just grew into something bigger than I ever imagined. Of course, the idea came from one of our committees, and when they come up with an idea and commit to it, that’s pretty exciting.”
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