CEO Insights: Reflecting on 18 years with BEMA

kerwin brown headshot happy

In what seems like the blink of an eye, I’m celebrating my 18th year with BEMA. I still clearly remember my first day. In a small office located in downtown Wilmette, Ill., Rich Hoskins of Colborne Foodbotics introduced me to the staff as the new President/CEO. Things were further set in motion that day as Rich shared the plan to move the BEMA office to the Kansas City area later that summer.

When I joined BEMA, we were a small, but mighty, organization of myself, a full-time receptionist and a part-time marketing person. Since that time, BEMA has grown both in terms of staff and membership, as well as impact and influence in the baking industry. When I reflect on the reason for our growth over the years, I recognize a thread of dedication – both from our staff and from the volunteers within our organization.


Powered by Volunteers

BEMA is blessed to have a dedicated group of individuals who have and continue to serve on BEMA’s Board and on committees for BEMA and IBIE. One commonality I see over and over is that these individuals possess an eyes-up response. Eyes-up, you assume the call. Eyes down, you defer the work to others.

I am so proud to be part of an organization where eyes-up is the norm. Every day, I see and hear examples of how incredibly involved BEMA’s volunteers are within the organization. These individuals set a superb example for others, and I believe their passion for BEMA’s mission is a catalyst for strength, caring and resiliency throughout the industry.

The volunteer culture that has aided in BEMA’s growth is also a positive breeding ground for building professional relationships that evolve into lasting friendships. These connections often come in handy. How do you think I convinced Tim Cook and Mark Hotze to be the first guests on the On A Roll with Kerwin Brown podcast? My time within the industry has also blessed me with travel to China, Singapore, Brazil, Germany, Africa, Netherlands, Turkey, Mexico, and Dubai.  These experiences have taught me first-hand that the business of baking is global, and the breaking of bread should indeed be shared with others at home and around the world.


Bring Yourself and Your Ideas

Over the years, BEMA has established the tag-line “BEMA Connects You”. We provide unique opportunities for networking and are known to create experiences that have become a major draw.  Meaningful networking and experiences are a primary focus of Convention and NEXUS.  In 2005, BEMA’s “Annual Meeting” hosted 125 attendees, including 1-2 baker guests. This year’s Convention will welcome over 400 attendees, including close to 50 baker guests and their families for collaboration, connecting and education.  We invite you to bring yourself and your ideas to Convention in-person, or by attending the virtual Workforce Wednesday and BEMA Live! offerings.

Through our partnership with ABA and our attendee guests, NEXUS will be an epicenter of solutions for businesses with a focus on professional development opportunities. The NEXUS environment will facilitate connections and collaboration between bakers and suppliers, offer interactive education and timely insights.  Again, we invite you to bring yourself and bring your ideas to NEXUS to share in learning with some of the best and brightest in the industry.

More than a century ago, BEMA was founded on the concept of service to the industry. I’m proud to learn from those of you who continue to honor the commitment of service through the modern lens of servant leadership and to serve alongside you today and in the future.

  • Donald Osborne
    Posted at 11:00h, 28 April Reply

    Good read and I could not agree with you more.

    BEMA clearly gave me opportunities to give back!!

  • Fred Springer
    Posted at 11:01h, 28 April Reply

    Great job Kerwin! 18 years sure went by fast!

Post A Comment