Formerly known as the B&CMA Technical Conference held in the spring, the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.) Technical Conference, scheduled for Oct. 22-25 in San Antonio, places a heavy emphasis on technical training attendees can implement right away, said Dave Van Laar, senior adviser to the president and chief executive officer: B.&C.M.A transition and development, and Robb MacKie, president and c.e.o., A.B.A.
“One thing I believe today is that training is up to the bakers,” Mr. Van Laar said. “Speaking as a baker, I know that if we don’t take charge of our own training, it’s not going to happen. It’s easy to sort of abdicate because other things become a priority. But [through the A.B.A. and B.&C.M.A. merger], we have the training programs and resources.”
With education sessions ranging from ovens to food safety and hygienic controls, the conference is designed to take the theoretical into the hands-on, closing with a leavening training workshop that will offer project credit for anyone enrolled in A.B.A.’s Cookie & Cracker Manufacturing Course.
“To graduate, students must complete a series of work projects through the correspondence course, and this is an opportunity for people to complete that and have it graded on-site,” Mr. MacKie noted.
Bakers today are often over-extended, and value is placed on everything, Mr. MacKie and Mr. Van Laar said. Therefore, the A.B.A. places a heavy emphasis on providing value for training opportunities such as this technical conference.
“Everyone’s under pressure to deliver value,” Mr. MacKie observed. “We have a group that is helping us lead that.”
In recent years, allied members attending the technical conference have made themselves available to provide solutions to various challenges facing cookie and cracker manufacturers.
“As we have made that commitment, the industry has stepped up,” Mr. Van Laar said. “The response I’ve seen has been, ‘If you’re going to that, we’ll sign on and go with you.’”
Since the A.B.A.-B.&C.M.A. merger, Mr. MacKie has noted that Mr. Van Laar also has visited cookie and cracker manufacturing plants to offer education and training opportunities on location.
“The hands-on training that Dave has done is part of upgrading and refreshing our training as part of the real world,” Mr. MacKie said. “We’re adapting to new equipment, new processes and new formulations that are coming along. That’s bringing the mountain to Moses.”
Registration for the A.B.A. Technical Conference is still open. Visit www.americanbakers.org for a schedule of events and to register.
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