Brad Alexander, chief operating officer of Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga., has more than 40 years of experience in the baking industry. He has attended six International Baking Industry Expositions (IBIE).

IBIE Point of View offers an inside look at how bakery professionals across disciplines get the most out of attending IBIE, held Sept. 17-21 in Las Vegas.  

What are your goals for attending IBIE? 

IBIE is an excellent opportunity to see what’s new in the industry, learn about and discuss the latest baking trends, and, importantly, to reconnect with friends in the industry and make new contacts.

How do you determine those goals, and how will you be planning to ensure those goals are met? 

While our goals are generally the same year-after-year, it’s vital to have the right team members in attendance with a plan in place to ensure we are making the most of our time during the event. 

What is IBIE’s value for you as the individual executive but also your company as a whole? 

For me, IBIE is about cultivating relationships and continued professional growth. It’s interesting to see and hear what is top of mind for others in the industry.

As a company, it’s imperative that we remain competitive, so it’s important for us to stay attuned to the latest industry trends and product innovations.

Where will you be spending most of your time: the show floor, education sessions, networking events, meetings with suppliers? Why do you find that the most valuable place for your IBIE experience?

You can find me on the show floor. I like to see the latest tools and technologies first-hand, and I find that it offers a good opportunity to connect with others with whom I may not otherwise cross paths.

How do you determine which team members will attend IBIE? 

We determine which senior management and key supply chain team members should attend based on the latest hot topics and our business needs.

How will you be working with your team to ensure the company maximizes the potential at IBIE? 

Preparation is critical. It’s important to research what we want to see and who we want to speak with in advance to make the most efficient use of our time.

How does your company approach IBIE? 

IBIE is a great resource; it provides a tremendous opportunity to listen and learn.

What challenges are you looking to solve as you walk the show floor and attend sessions or strategize with your team? 

We are looking for cost-effective solutions that may improve our products and allow us to better meet the needs of our customers. Innovations that offer improved quality and safety, or that automate processes are of particular interest. 

How has the past 2 years influenced your company’s goals for IBIE?

The past two years have been unprecedented. We have all faced situations that challenged us to find ways to do things differently, which has led to unique innovations that haven’t previously been considered. We’re looking forward to seeing what solutions others have developed that may be applicable for us as well.

How will you measure a successful IBIE? 

I firmly believe in the power of relationships in our industry; they are what has allowed us all to collectively succeed during tough times. I always value meeting with others in the industry to make new and affirm existing relationships. It’s difficult to place a value on that opportunity.