CHICAGO — In the 1985 hit film “Back to the Future,” the movie ends when heroes Emmett (Doc) Brown and Marty McFly go airborne in a DeLorean that shoots them 30 years into the future as Doc declared, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
Today, while we haven’t quite mastered flying cars and hoverboards, there’s no denying it: The future is here.
BakingTech 2015, also known in the industry as the “Best Week in Baking,” March 1-3, starts on its path to the future at the Hilton Chicago (with the BEMA winter summit taking place Feb. 28 – March 1 in the same hotel), creating room for growth for the 91-year-old conference, aptly themed “Engage the Future.”
“Our theme is the perfect segue from last year’s theme of change,” said Wendi Ebbing, director, marketing and technology, Bundy Baking Solutions, and BakingTech program chair. “We as an industry have embraced change, and that’s what’s going to take us into our future — engaging new products and processes and being open to what the market is demanding before they become the latest trends.”
To meet this, the conference will offer breakout sessions that cover topics that include product, technology and operational innovations. For example, attendees can take a glimpse into the coming years during “Baking line of the future today,” a two-part breakout session led by Jim Kline, president of the EnSol Group, to be held Tuesday, March 3.
“Jim Kline is a well-known and respected consultant in the industry, and we couldn’t have a better expert to lead that session,” Ms. Ebbing said.
Part One, which covers ingredient handling, mixing and makeup, will offer insight from a panel that includes Ken Schwenger, Bakery Concepts, and Bruce Campbell, AMF Bakery Systems. Part Two, which will cover ovens and facilities management, will have a panel that includes Damian Morabito of Topos Mondial and Barry Rogers of the Austin Co.
General sessions also will keep attendees thinking of the future with a keynote on Monday, March 2, by Lynne Lancaster, Scott Zimmer and Kim Lear from Bridgeworks, a group specializing in cross-generational communication.
Networking opportunities will abound not only for veterans and those new to the industry but also in ways to bring those two groups together. The networking reception will return to opening night on Sunday, March 1, with a special New Members and Partners Reception in a VIP lounge taking place beforehand. There also will be an opportunity for students to interview with baking or allied companies.
“The interview program is something new to Baking Tech,” Ms. Ebbing said. “It takes place the last day of the conference at the Marketplace and was developed to help link students seeking employment in the baking industry with companies that are looking for qualified interns or full-time employees. A.S.B. is trying to help ‘connect the dots,’ if you will.”
The A.S.B. also has a mentoring program where industry veterans may volunteer to guide new members through their first conference. Mentors will be admitted to the VIP reception as well as receive VIP seating at the opening session and be recognized in the BakingTech program.
The biggest buzz about this year’s conference revolves around the change of venue. Looking at future growth, the A.S.B. made the move to the Hilton to accommodate increased attendance and provide more space in the Marketplace, as well as an easy flow for breakout sessions.
“At the Hilton, we can keep everything in the program within a very accessible area — from one session to the next, to the reception and to the marketplace — everything will be easy to navigate,” said Anthony Turano, director of administration, Turano Baking Co., and A.S.B. chairman.
At the Marketplace, held 4-6 p.m. each day, attendees and exhibitors will benefit from the increase in space. Tables will be larger — 8 feet — and there will be more space between and behind tables to allow room for attendees to more easily meet with exhibitors.
There also will be plenty of room in the hotel for networking and informal meetings, with two lounges and plenty of seating throughout the hotel.
“Considering how close our industry is, the amount of space we’ll have in the new location will give everyone more opportunities to get together,” Ms. Ebbing added.For more information and to register, visit www.asbe.org/bakingtech/bakingtech-2015.