Charlie Negaro is chief executive officer of Chabaso Bakery, New Haven, CT, a wholesale bakery supplying artisan breads to grocery stores in the Northeast and the United States. Mr. Negaro has worked in the baking industry for 16 years and attended the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) four times. 

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? 

My main goal is networking within the commercial bakery industry, especially now given the high amount of consolidation in the market and the increasing pressure for smaller family-owned and privately owned businesses that need to be focusing on their niche in the industry.

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

We don’t have the budget or staff for major market intelligence gathering and analysis, so events like IBIE are immensely valuable for us. To ensure these goals are met I will be attending along with our sales director.

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

For me and our leadership, IBIE gives us a chance to step away from the day-to-day and allow us to think at a higher strategic level. The conference also allows us to discover trends and solutions that we can bring to our own customers.

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?

The majority of my time will be spent on the show floor and at networking events. These are where we can have valuable conversations with suppliers and partners.

How do you determine which team members will attend IBIE?

We’re such a tiny team that there’s not really a big decision-making process. It will be just me (CEO) and our sales director. Ideally, we’d take a larger group but for the time being we only have the capacity to bring two people.

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

Because it’s only two people from our team attending, we will be sticking together for most of the conference and focusing together on the important conversations with industry partners.

How does your company approach IBIE? 

We work to identify which existing partners of ours will be attending the conference and see if we can schedule some time to walk the show floor with them. However, we also approach the event with flexibility in mind and don’t try too hard to maintain a rigid schedule, as we don’t necessarily know what information we’ll encounter that will be quite valuable.

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

Product ideas, packaging ideas, go-to-market strategies for bread. It gives us the ability to come back and provide solutions to our customers.

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

It’s no longer enough for us just to be a general artisan bakery. It’s more important than ever to have partners on the vendor side and customer side so we can be strategically progressing and providing value to our customers.

We are also increasingly focused on figuring out what technology can help us shift more labor to value-added. In our day-to-day there’s been a labor shift looming for many years. The last two years catalyzed that. Everyone has to be automating non-value-add jobs.

How will you measure a successful IBIE? 

At the very least I hope to come back from the conference with a handful of insights that can guide our annual planning for 2023, as well as a handful of valuable conversations with existing and prospective partners.