International Bakery sits down with Tim Cook, the CEO of BEMA and Linxis Group to discuss the various programmes and opportunities available for bakers.
1) What is the background and history of BEMA?
The Bakery Equipment Manufacturers Association or BEMA is a growing and vibrant 100+-year-old trade organisation in the baking industry with over 200 international member companies. Bringing together bakers, equipment suppliers, and allied partners, BEMA is the premier resource providing networking, innovation, and education for our members. Notably, we are co-sponsors, along with the American Bakers Association (ABA), of the IBIE Show which is the largest baking industry trade show in North America.
2) How has the pandemic impacted the association and its members?
The pandemic has activated a dual impact on the association and our members. The baking industry is close-knit and accustomed to meeting and collaborating regularly in-person. The pandemic has caused an obvious shift in that in-person meeting cadence, forcing our members into new mechanisms of communication internally as well as with their customers. Additionally, the pandemic has placed an even brighter spotlight on the workforce shortage. While it was an issue before the pandemic, it has escalated somewhat exponentially over the last 24 months. Both the need to retool communication plans and the workforce challenges have been catalysts for continuing the trend of automation in bakery manufacturing.
It is also fair to say that during the pandemic our member companies needed a reliable source to help them find solutions to the operational challenges that resulted. BEMA focused on helping its members through this difficult time by hosting a variety of virtual discussion panels allowing members to share solutions and resources. The association was also instrumental in disseminating and interpreting key governmental regulations as they were released.
3) Can you outline your mission statement and vision for the association?
Mission: BEMA connects, educates and provides resources for its members and the industries they serve.
Vision: BEMA creates an overwhelming competitive advantage for our members.
Our mission and our vision allow us to focus on being relevant to our membership and are key in our long-term health as an organisation.
4) How integral is BEMA to the international bakery sector?
Most of our members sell into international markets, have offices internationally and many are based internationally. Companies based in other countries who want to establish a strong foothold in the United States set up offices and staff in the United States. The same is true for our members who are US based, many need to expand their footprint internationally and establish offices and sometimes manufacturing in other countries. To assist our members in these endeavours, BEMA relies on close relationships with industry associations from other countries.