Baking Industry Forum – Supplier Town Hall Recap

Bif Supplier Town Hall Panel

Over the last couple of weeks those in the baking industry rose to meet unprecedented demands. Curious to see how those in the industry are faring under such incredible circumstances, we gathered a panel of our supplier members for a Baking Industry Forum (BIF) Supplier Town Hall on Thursday, April 16.

Supplier Panel:

  • Sergio Caballero, Benchmark
  • Jordon Hale, SPF Groups
  • Mike LaValle, Intralox
  • Craig Souser, JLS Automation
  • Audrey St. Onge, Lallemand

During this info-packed hour, BEMA and its members heard how Supplier members are navigating changes in the industry amid the evolutions of COVID-19. The panel shared how they are making changes in operational processes, shouldering new levels of social responsibility, and adjusting to evolving needs of customers and employees.

During a time of such incredible change, we believe it’s more important than ever to have a practical, timely resource to help the industry navigate this time of uncertainty. The act of sharing alerts us to what’s working, which is instrumental in keeping the industry and its partners current as they assist in critical economic recovery. Informed choices and better tools prepare us all for what’s coming next.

Supplier Town Hall Takeaways



Improving Customer Focus in Social Distancing


BIF Town Hall Mike LaValle“We use a combination of videos and webinars to make it as interactive as possible.
We’re already set up to troubleshoot remotely; this is part of our front line before sending out engineers.
Teams are using tech such as cameras, video, Instagram and Facebook.”
– Mike LaValle, Intralox



BIF Town Hall Craig Souser“We are using AR (augmented reality) and see this as a permanent trend for troubleshooting and training for maintenance.
We were already down this path prior to the outbreak and we plan to promote this useful and functional technology moving forward.”
– Craig Souser, JLS Automation


Charting the “New Normal”


BIF Town Hall Craig Souser“At first, management was walking around and enforcing PPE wear and cleaning. Now, the employees would rather self-police.
People are taking initiative and ownership. We’ve told sales they will have limited access to customers plants for the rest of the year.
I also think we’ll find prospects and customers wishing they had kicked off an automation project earlier.”
– Craig Souser, JLS Automation


BIF Town Hall Mike LaValle“We will continue to see effort to automate wherever possible.
This will continue to be a hot topic and companies will need to look for ways to stay ahead of the game in automation.
From what we’ve seen in the Shanghai market, there’s a good number of new projects coming out.
I think once this passes it will ramp up quickly in the U.S., too.”
– Mike LaValle, Intralox



BIF Town Hall Sergio Cabellero“I see the plants continuously ramping up, especially those doing frozen foods.
I think we’ll see a lot more companies automating, increasing line speeds and getting product stocks back to where they were.
People will have to ramp things up to fill the void.”
– Sergio Cabellero, Benchmark


Supporting Front-line Employees


BIF Town Hall Craig Souser“We initially started with premium pay and then will follow up with a general bonus, but we are not looking at anything permanent.
We are putting this in the context of what they are doing is above and beyond normal duties.
We’ve also had a number of town hall meetings with the production staff.
Asking for employee feedback has been a great way to engage them in the dialogue and the decision-making process.
This continues to provide better morale among the workers.”
– Craig Souser, JLS Automation



BIF Town Hall - Audrey St. Onge“We are investing in communication through a dedicated website for COVID-19 information and guidelines.
It’s been a beneficial tool to connect daily with key leaders and build a virtual connection throughout the company.
The engagement provides a healthy state of mind to share what we are doing to protect the people.”
– Audrey St. Onge, Lallemand



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