22 Feb A Conversation With Rick Hoskins
Building Relationships and a Family Culture in the Industry – a Conversation with Rick Hoskins
Earlier this month, I sat down with Rick Hoskins, our 2020-2021 Chairman of the Board, to talk about his experiences as a leader and learner as well as the benefits of developing relationships throughout the baking industry.
Kerwin: Baking seems to be in your blood. What are some of the primary elements that keep you and your family linked to baking?
Rick: I have a lot of friends across a wide range of industries and every single one of them is enamored by the experiences we have in the baking industry. There are other industries that foster relationships that ultimately help in business life, but it always seems to me the baking industry develops relationships where business benefits can be a second-order effect.
I have great friends in the baking industry, both Bakers and Allieds. Many of these people are competitors and bakers that I have no opportunities for business with. But, through the many events we attend each year, there are great opportunities to develop more authentic relationships.
Sometimes they lead to benefits for my business, but many times they become personal friendships that last a lifetime. This concept is foreign to most industries, and I think that’s what makes the baking industry special and why I don’t see myself ever leaving the industry.
Kerwin: Were there any lessons you learned growing up with family in the industry?
Rick: I have to toot the horn of BEMA on this one. When I first got into the business, I was on the technical side, first installing machines and then eventually the engineering department, so most of my early lessons were built around the technical aspects of our business.
Eventually my father moved me over to the sales and marketing side of the business, which is where I learned the value of Industry engagement through Associations like BEMA, ABA, ASB and AIB. My father was heavily involved in all of these Associations, including serving as BEMA past chair (2004-2005), and over time I also became heavily involved. It’s always amazing to see how many suppliers in our industry still choose to not engage in these Associations at a level that’s required to see the benefits.
Kerwin: Have you seen an evolution or change in these lessons/ideas over the years?
Rick: Early on in my career, I was almost exclusively interested in developing relationships that would help our business. While this is still a critical goal for us, I’ve come to realize there’s more to engaging in the industry than just business-related relationships.
Participating in the leadership of the industry has been extremely rewarding for me, I saw my father do it 20 years ago, bringing the first bakers to a BEMA meeting and absolutely revolutionizing how BEMA held its meetings. We still talk about this in our Board meetings. With everything our Board has been able to accomplish in the last nine years I’ve been involved with BEMA, I’m really proud of how we’ve continued to steer BEMA on a meaningful, relevant path for the Industry.
Kerwin: As times seem to grow busier, simultaneously there’s also a growing need for quality connections. Do you have a motto or personal advice when it comes to finding this balance?
Rick: I’ve always preached to our employees the importance of family and I preach the same in our BEMA Board meetings. We never want our employees to feel like they are working too much or are too stressed at home to enjoy their time with family; it’s really our Golden Rule.
I think if you always remember your family is first and remind yourself constantly that time flies, the balance will naturally occur. It might not happen in a 50-50 ratio all the time, but when you have the chance to be with your family – attend your kids’ games, drive them to school, pick them up from practice – that 10 minutes in the car can be far more impactful than the 10 hours you just spent at work. I think if you have that mentality, the “balance” will always be there.
Kerwin: Do you have any advice for those who are new to the industry or are changing industries?
Rick: As you can probably already tell, I’m a firm believer in Association engagement. I’ve seen people come and go in the industry. Those are usually the ones who are not engaged with their industry Associations. We also have a few Board Members who are relative newcomers, and they’re thriving in this industry. I believe one major reason for that is they got engaged in Associations early and have put the hard work into actually contributing to the Associations. If you aren’t willing to put the effort into expanding your network and giving back, you probably won’t last long in that industry.
Kerwin: How does BEMA and its staff help facilitate these important quality connections?
Rick: BEMA has been a key reason for the growth of our company. We have launched a few different product lines over the years and I can remember many, many examples of how authentic relationships that we developed at BEMA meetings turned into sales opportunities for our new products. Three of our largest early orders in our Robotics business were a result of relationships developed at BEMA.
As far as the BEMA staff goes, you can’t deliver on all of the attributes I’ve mentioned without a great staff. BEMA has continued to develop programs that are worthwhile to the industry, but always remembering the importance of giving our membership opportunities to develop authentic relationships. It goes into every single discussion on our meetings and events led by BEMA’s staff.
BEMA continues to innovate, introducing new digital service offerings designed to bring valuable, actionable intelligence to our members. To learn more about how BEMA connects, educates and provides resources and a competitive advantage for members and the industries they serve, check out bema.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org