NASHVILLE, TN -- Standing-room-only education sessions and a sold-out exhibit characterized this year's record-breaking National Automatic Merchandising Association Coffee, Tea & Water conference. The 2013 convention and exhibition for workplace refreshment providers took place from Nov. 12 to 14 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center here.
Operator participation and exhibitor bookings climbed 20% over last year's event in New Orleans, with 750 industry professionals registering and 115 suppliers showcasing the latest in coffee, water and tea preparation and dispensing equipment, products and services. The event was again collocated with the International Bottled Water Association's annual business conference and trade show.
CT&W's14 educational sessions covered a wide spectrum of timely topics, from marketing to millennials to the legal requirements that every operator must take into account when calculating route drivers' hourly and overtime pay and sales commissions.
Keynoter Juan Esteban Orduz, president of the Colombian Coffee Federation, described the role the federation has played in raising the standard of living for coffee growers and their families and in promoting Colombian coffee throughout the world. He detailed the steps the organization is taking to turn Colombia into the world's first 100% sustainable coffee-producing nation in social, environmental and economic terms.
PHOTOS: Pictured, from left, are Juan Esteban Orduz, Mike Hourigan, Stephen Twining and Ross Colbert.
Another keynote speaker was sales expert Mike Hourigan, who explained how technology, social media and globalization are changing the needs and expectations of today's decision-makers and consumers alike, and how operators can reposition their services and sales approaches to address them.
The third keynoter was Ross Colbert, a global beverage strategist with Rabobank. In his presentation, titled "In Pod We Trust," he offered a global overview of the single-cup market and its trends, key players, opportunities and barriers to growth.
Another acclaimed international presenter was Stephen Twining, a 10th-generation member of England's most famous tea family and brand ambassador for Twinings. He provided a global perspective on the growing popularity of tea and guided CT&W showgoers through a tea tasting, detailing the dos and don'ts of preparing a perfect cup of black, green or herbal tea.
Also presenting was Luz Marina Trujillo, the third-generation owner of the Santa Elena coffee estate who had opened her doors to a delegation of NAMA members when they traveled to Costa Rica earlier this year. She provided her perspective on, and passion for, the people and processes behind her family's coffee farm.
A highlight of the educational program was the standing-room-only session on "Brand-Building and Marketing to Millennials," hosted by members of NAMA's newly formed Emerging Leaders Network. The rising generation of industry leaders shared real-life marketing case studies and their views on marketing to their demographic. The session was led by vending veteran Craig Hesch of A.H. Management Group (Rolling Meadows, IL) and NAMA vice-president of marketing and communications Roni Moore. The session concluded with a review of overall marketing trends impacting the industry in 2014 and beyond.
Climaxing the 2013 the conference was the presentation of NAMA's coveted Coffee Legend Award to Joe Webster, founder and chief executive of Newco Enterprises Inc. (St. Charles, MO). The presentation was made by co-chairman Howard Fischer, Roasterie U.S. Inc. (Des Moines, IA). The Coffee Legend Award honors longtime industry members who have proven themselves innovators, pioneers and visionaries, passionate about coffee and eager to communicate that passion to others in order to help them succeed. Webster was instrumental in building Newco from a niche provider of coffee brewer accessories for OCS into a leading manufacturer of beverage preparation and serving equipment.
PHOTO: NAMA CT&W co-chairman Howard Fischer (l.) presents NAMA's Coffee Legend Award to Joe Webster of Newco Enterprises.
CT&W's show hours were extended by two hours this year, from four to six, a move which proved to be a hit judging by steady crowds on the exhibit floor, where operators took advantage of the additional time to explore new products and meet with suppliers.
NAMA's Women of the Industry group hosted its second annual CT&W networking breakfast. It featured a roundtable session led by Shivani Gupta of Canteen (Charlotte, NC). The network is designed to facilitate dynamic discussion addressing the challenges, opportunities and successes of women in the refreshment services industry.
PHOTO: From left, Women of the Industry leaders Sue Ralston, NAMA; Cathy Feeley and Janette Carter, Focus 365; Barbara Russell, Holiday House; and Shivani Gupta, Canteen, gather for photo opportunity with NAMA chief Carla Balakgie following CTW networking breakfast.
At the conclusion of the 2013 Coffee, Tea and Water conference, the event's organizers hailed its continuing growth and vitality. "The record turnout of both exhibitors and operators says a lot about the show and the industry in general," said Tullio.
"Our commitment to education is strong and unwavering to provide tools for operators to grow their businesses. The program and the turnout here in Nashville exemplify that," Fischer added.
The 2014 CT&W show, billed as the world's largest trade show for the office coffee and refreshments industry, will be held Nov. 11-13 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas. NAMA is soliciting suggestions from operators to help select the site for the 2015 conference.