The first day of Future Connect, Food Marketing Institute’s new leadership development conference here, answered a lot of questions.
Was the alternating-year replacement for the FMI Show going to be anything like the FMI Show?
Answer: Not really, although it did include the annual Speaks presentation of industry survey data. Mostly it is filled with sessions geared specifically to personnel development and leadership, with topics such as training, ethics, mentoring and diversity. And of course, there's no massive show floor, although there are a few small new-product displays.
Would people come to a conference that had no precedent, in a down economy, and after it had been postponed for five months?
Answer: Yes, and they came in force. The opening presentations and break-out sessions – not to mention the lobby and hallways between sessions -- were packed to near capacity.
Would it be worthwhile?
Answer: So far, the buzz in the crowd is pretty positive. Attendees – who come from a broad range of positions in the industry -- appear to be taking a strong interest in the sessions and are taking the discussions from break-out sessions out into the hallways.
"It's an exciting change," Pat Raybould, president of B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb., told SN on Monday. "The events this morning were the best attended of any FMI session I've been to."