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It seems like we are always glad to get through the winter holiday season thinking we finally have a few minutes to get caught up on backlogged work. As we dig into the piles of paper on our desks, we soon realize that the calendar can fill up quickly with industry meetings and seminars.

For instance, BEMA holds its Winter Summit on March 1 and 2 in Chicago, right before the American Society of Baking, or ASB, which meets on March 3rd through 5th. Then there is the Food Processors Suppliers Association (FPSA) meeting on March 6th through 8th in Arizona followed by a critical sanitation workshop on March 12th and 13th in Chicago, where bakery equipment design and food safety will be the topic.

After a short break, the American Bakers Association and Independent Bakers Association will hold meetings from April 21st through the 24th in Florida. The Food Safety Summit takes place in Baltimore on April 30th through May 2nd. Then you’ll need to plan for your trip to Las Vegas on October 6th through the 9th for the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE).

So why is it important to talk about this now in February? A couple things come to mind. First, if you didn’t budget for any of this travel, you will be finding ways to convince your superiors the importance of your attendance to some, if not all of these events. Secondly, you should be thinking about what you will get out of these meetings and conventions, when you do attend.

If you are an equipment manufacturer, you want to be at BEMA and FPSA to learn about the latest activities that surround this side of the industry. You will have a chance to hear from some of your customers about the latest trends and what their needs are for the coming year. You will also have a chance to hear about regulatory issues that will affect how you design, market and build your equipment. These meetings always come with some elements of leadership discussions that can send you out refreshed and ready to make a difference.

If you are a baker, you will want to attend the ASB technical conference, where you will have a chance to capture baking process ideas, human resource tips and best practices in manufacturing and food safety in an educational setting. If you are a bakery executive, you will want to attend ABA and IBA to get caught up on t the latest regulatory threats that are coming your way. You will also learn about the services that each of these organizations provide to membership.

Everyone in the industry will want to be at the big Baking Expo — the 2013 IBIE — in Las Vegas. This is where you get a chance to catch up on the latest equipment, ingredients and services available. You can walk up and touch machinery and talk about the technology and design with the ones who came up with the concepts. You can talk chemistry and new product development with those experts who spend time in the labs creating the blends, and you can visit with consultants and service organizations who provide assistance in areas you might not even know exist.

When it comes to the opportunities available to refresh our senses to what is outside of our four walls, you have a lot to consider. It’s crunch time. Where will we see you this year?