WMU News

Conference looks at bolstering business, adding value

March 21, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Some of the toughest matters facing executives today, from growing a business with innovative ideas and a diverse workforce to learning critical lessons for managing the 21st-century marketplace, will be covered when members of the nation's food industry gather this month during Western Michigan University's 39th annual Food Marketing Conference.

Upward of 500 participants are expected Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30, for the conference at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. Workshops and special sessions reflect the theme "Adding Value in the Marketplace" and will feature headline speakers from such companies as PepsiCo, Roundy's, SUPERVALU, Kmart, Borders Books and Bath & Body Works.

This year marks the first time the conference is partnering with the Network of Executive Women, a national advocacy and professional organization, to present discussions that address leadership guidance, diversity initiatives and business development in the retail and consumer package goods industries.

"We believe it's imperative that women leaving WMU's Food Marketing Program have access to industry leaders for broadened professional exposure, as well as for insight into 'life after college' to assist in their on-boarding with potential companies," said Kathy Casey, a NEW member and an executive with Kellogg's Food Away from Home.

The NEW events, which focus on "Leveraging the Power of Personal Leadership," begin at 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 29, with a networking and luncheon meeting. In sessions immediately following lunch, participants will hear from Kmart Chief Administrative Officer Janet Langford Kelly and noted business consultant and communications expert John Baldoni.

The full conference begins Monday afternoon with three "early bird" workshops from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. They include:

"The Growing Roles of the Dollar Stores," led by David Bishop, director of Willard Bishop Consulting;

"Looking for Quality College Talent to Grow Your Business," with Joy Nicholas, chair of the WMU Food Industry Advisory Board and an executive with the Food Marketing Institute; and

"Building Sales through Creative Advertising and Merchandising," with John Weitzel, a WMU faculty specialist in the advertising program, and WMU Executive-in-Residence Phil Straniero.

Evening activities include a welcome reception, dinner and awards ceremony, which precede an 8:30 p.m. address by Gary Rodkin, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Beverages & Foods, North America. His comments will focus on "Adding Value in the Marketplace: It's All About Growth."

Tuesday events begin with speakers Greg Josefowicz, chairman, president and CEO of Borders Books and Ken Stevens, president of Bath & Body Works.

Marketing books and promoting personal care products may appear to have little to do with the food industry, but with innovation in the food industry seemingly at a standstill, conference organizers suggest it may be time to look outside the industry for new ideas that can be applied to traditional grocery retailing. In separate sessions, Josefowicz and Stevens will share valuable insights on how traditional retailers can bring greater value to the marketplace.

From 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, participants can attend concurrent workshops, including:

"Customer Loyalty Beyond the Card," featuring John Hennessy, vice president of Concept Shopping Inc.;

"Retail Store Landscape: An Opportunity For Differentiation," with Bruce Dybvad, president of Design Forum;

"The Urban Market: Market Segmentation And Consumer Insights," with Henry Edwards, Vice President/Organization and Effectiveness at Ahold USA;

"Team: Creating A Climate For Success," led by John Shafer, president and founder of Oxford Learning Group; and

"RFID: From Dream To Reality," featuring Jim Swoboda, vice president of Acosta Sales & Marketing.

From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., five more concurrent workshops will be held, including:

"Category Management: Making It Work For Independent Retailers," featuring Dan Funk, Vice President Category Management, SUPERVALU Inc.;

"Finding the Eagle in a Flock of Turkeys," with Mel Kleiman, president of Humetrics Inc.;

"The Essence of the Hispanic Shopper," led by Ken Greenberg, vice president for ACNielsen;

"Using Technology to Optimize Price and Promotion Decision Making," with Jim Burt, regional director of professional services for DemandTec; and

"Mapping Your Customer Experience: Build a Unique Customer Experience to Drive Growth," with Julie M. LaNasa, managing director and founder of Collaborative Consulting.

The conference closes Tuesday afternoon following a 12:30 p.m. luncheon and presentations by industry experts Phil Lempert, food editor for NBC's Today Show, and Bob Mariano, chairman and president of Roundy's Inc.

Lempert, an analyst known for his ability to identify and explain trends to experts and consumers, will host a live consumer panel that addresses the conference theme, "Adding Value in the Marketplace." Following that discussion, Mariano will tackle the topic from the merchant's perspective, drawing on his 30-plus years of experience in the food industry.

The annual Food Marketing Conference is sponsored by WMU's Food Marketing Program in the Haworth College of Business and by Sigma Phi Omega, a professional business fraternity. All proceeds from the conference support food marketing scholarships and program operations.

For more information about the conference, registration or reservations, call the conference hotline at (269) 387-2132. More information also is available at <www.hcob.wmich.edu/fmk>.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

WMU News
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