The Food Shippers of America Blog

FSA Conference Co-Chairs Talk About Their Volunteer Experience

by Staff, on Feb 8, 2022 9:09:33 AM


Planning the Food Shippers of America (FSA) Annual Conference is no small feat; one that requires hours of commitment in creating content, scheduling speakers and seating discussion panels. 2022 Annual Conference Co-Chairs Steve Wutke, Vice President Sales and Marketing for Prime, Inc., and Rob Lyall, VP Supply Chain for Simmons Foods share their thoughts about planning and attending the industry’s signature event.

Though Wutke has been attending the FSA Conference for 35 years, Lyall came aboard about 5 years ago. Yet both agree the conference is the perfect format and venue to interact with a multitude of existing and potential customers one-on-one, discuss pressing issues, and share time with peers building better partnerships.

Since last year was missed, Lyall and Wutke wanted to try to create a program that would attract and sustain attendance no matter what day or time the presentation was being made, Wutke says. “Some speakers wanted virtual rather than in-person – a good bit of uncertainty was in the air. Rob did a really good job of creating choices for the FSA Team to choose from and, while we’ve had some fumbles, foul balls, and mulligans, I think we have brought forth a program everyone will enjoy and feel good about.”

Rob-lyall-headshot-300x300Lyall shares the same focus for the 2022 conference. “Many options we evaluated still had concerns about doing in-person events. However, we feel very good about our theme, and our session content should educate all of us on the new supply chain world we are living through.”

While day-to-day demands make co-chairing an event of this caliber challenging, Lyall says it was a great opportunity to work with an awesome, well-recognized (and best-dressed) industry leader to develop a great program for 2022.

steve-wutke-headshot-300x300Wutke recalled being tapped to assist with the 2022 annual conference. “[Lyall] asked if I would assist and after several drinks I think I agreed! I’ve seen a lot of good people contribute to this FSA platform and while my ship isn’t sailing yet, it’s certainly taking on fuel, and I wanted to try to give a little back to a good organization before I leave.”

Key to the success of the Annual Conference is opportunity, says Lyall. “It is all about the opportunity to learn more deeply about key industry challenges, learn practical solutions to deal with those challenges, and build the relationships with the very people who will enable solutions for those challenges.”

But opportunity is really about action. “I would encourage others to be active because the answer to many issues that will be discussed are sitting in that very room waiting to give their input!” Wutke says.

Still, the heart of the FSA Annual Conference is in the relationships – it’s one of the best environments for building and fostering key partnerships, said Lyall. “All of us are trying to solve similar challenges, and in a tough environment like we are in, it can be therapeutic to talk through the challenges with others.”

Wutke agrees, and says it is a relationship-building business and those who create solid partnerships, built year after year, win the race. “Not a sprint – it’s a marathon for certain! There’s simply no better place to be to create those partners than FSA!”

As featured in the Winter 2022 edition of the Food Shippers of America Food Chain Digest magazineWant to subscribe to the digital version of Food Chain Digest, the official magazine of FSA? Complete the subscription form below.


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles within the FSA Blog are those of the authors/submitters and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Food Shippers of America.

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