An Open Road Ahead

I usually reserve my “lean back in the editor’s chair and reflect on the future” columns for the end of the year. But, as we head in to the last quarter of 2012, including some heavy hitting trade shows, now’s a good time to take stock of some...


I usually reserve my “lean back in the editor’s chair and reflect on the future” columns for the end of the year. But, as we head in to the last quarter of 2012, including some heavy hitting trade shows, now’s a good time to take stock of some changes in our midst and what they mean for the months ahead.

The elections are right around the corner, of course, and that means that a lot of legislation that has been stalled will finally start moving again. That’s particularly good news for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which has been delayed for months. The latest Hours-of-Service rules, meanwhile, are set to go into effect on July 1, 2013, providing a pending legal challenge doesn’t change its course.

Jon Eisen, senior vice president of government relations for the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), believes the outcome of the presidential race will ultimately determine which way the courts lean on the Hours-of-Service decision.

IFDA will be holding its 2012 Distribution Solutions Conference in Las Vegas from October 29-31. Among the exhibitors will be ArrowStream. I had the pleasure of interviewing the company’s CEO, Steven LaVoie, for my sector report on cloud computing. During our phone call, Steve said something that really stuck in my head. I simply asked him: “Why foodservice? Of all the industries out there, why is it that ArrowStream has a whole stable of customers in this sector?” His answer: “The foodservice industry is actually very complicated. We knew that if we could solve the problems in this one industry, we could solve just about anything.” Then he made me laugh, because I envisioned him bent over some graph paper, alone at a desk, when he added: “We saw it as a space where we could quietly learn and work out the problems without drawing a lot of attention to ourselves. The result was a really unique solution and we’ve been getting a lot more attention in the past six months.”

ArrowStream is hardly a new company. It’s just that our industry is now finally ready to embrace what they—and many other software and technology providers—have to offer.

The same could be said for trade finance, which has historically been targeted towards international traders. But, the fallout from the global recession has been brutal on lenders and businesses alike. Whether you’re a global lifestyle company exporting skateboards from California to China or a family-run operation making cheese in Wisconsin—you still need help to maintain cash flow or to make sizeable investments in your company.

Our special report on trade finance in this issue discusses how one logistics company—WOW Logistics—has put together a dairy trade financing program that is summed up by the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

The other articles in this issue are also about adapting to new workplace and industries realities, challenges, and opportunities that are underway.

I can’t hardly wait for what’s next.

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