Industry News

Future-Focused Distribution Solutions Conference Kicks Off in Tampa


The highly anticipated IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference returned after three years to a large, engaged crowd of foodservice distributors eager to learn and connect while exploring the future of the industry.

Taking place at the Tampa Convention Center through Friday, the 2022 DSC is focused on helping an essential American industry adapt to a new era of business. With over 150 top industry vendors in the 40,000-sq-ft exhibit hall, 24 education sessions, and countless ways to make connections, DSC is providing attendees with a uniquely valuable opportunity to engage on the industry’s most important issues.

The show opened with a thought-provoking keynote from futurist Mike Walsh, CEO of the consultancy Tomorrow. Noting that all in attendance were “already disruptors” after having to overhaul their organizational practices to make it through the pandemic, Walsh asked attendees to reimagine the concept of business innovation.

“As you think about the next five years, innovation will look very different. Not just doing things more efficiently or with fewer people but asking a bigger question: What is now possible in your business that simply was not possible before?” he asked.  

Earlier in the day, distribution professionals began the week’s insights with a sold-out tour of local Gordon Food Service and Sanwa Food Group distribution facilities. Back at the Tampa Convention Center, IFDA Share Groups facilitated valuable peer-to-peer learning about key operations and information technology issues.

Across the street at the Tampa Marriott Water Street, top foodservice distribution leaders gathered for the 2022 IFDA Executive Leadership Summit. This invite-only event focused on strategies for navigating changing workforce dynamics and a disruptive business landscape, with exclusive opportunities for executive-level discussion and networking.

As the main show opened to attendees, a robust opening slate of forward-looking workshop sessions included topics such as long-range planning in a shifting market, using modern best practices to advance operational safety, and bolstering personnel through mental health support. One well-attended session on tractor-trailer procurement, “Supply Chain Disruptions & New Challenges in Equipment Acquisition,” made it clear that the future will bring its own challenges.

“Automation is viewed as a solution to some of the labor challenges in trailer manufacturing, but those companies aren’t immune from labor shortages either — acquiring the automation technology itself can have you facing the same lead time issues,” said Tim Schmeits, P.E., Director of Engineering – Everest Reefers, Great Dane.

The day concluded with the grand opening of the largest exhibit hall in DSC history. Attendees enjoyed refreshments while exploring the newest distribution technology and services, meeting with their business partners, and participating in the DSC 500 competition through IFDA’s Mobile App.