SHFM Insight
Kent Bain, Principal at Wood Bain Associates, LLC 

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing corporate foodservice and workplace hospitality in today’s business climate?
The biggest challenge will be people – meeting the increasing dietary demands and tastes of our customers and having an educated, trained work force to supply the foods our customers desire. Customers want what they want, how they want it and when they want it. As labor costs put increased pressure on operator financial results, it will be increasingly important that the operator “hires smart, trains hard, works easy.” Employee retention will take on critical urgency due to the time and cost involved in making a potentially good employee a reality.
In what ways has the association grown/stayed consistent since your Presidency?
Consistent has been the incredible opportunities to network and grow your knowledge base through attending SHFM events and interacting with other members. What has changed is the decline of the traditional client liaison position which has evolved into that individual now having to wear multiple hats and assume additional responsibilities. Ironically, this comes as the food industry has become increasingly complex making the time and effort needed to focus on service provision greater today than ever.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
After many years of serving on the SHFM Board of Directors and association President, I backed away from active involvement in the association. To a degree, I think this was a disservice to those who followed my tenure and a disservice to me as I lost the opportunity to meet and interact with the “new” breed of SHFM member. Over the past five plus years, I have again become more involved in SHFM and believe this renewed involvement has benefited all involved including myself.
How has your professional role changed since your 2000-2001 year of Presidency?
Shortly after my year as President, I left my position as VP of Dining, Events and Conference Services at Goldman Sachs and entered the world of consulting. Consulting allowed me to fully utilize my experience and skills with a wide variety of clients and foodservice providers across the United States. The greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity and greater the reward for all involved in a project. The highest compliment Wood Bain Associates has received is that we have consistently done multiple projects for clients which speaks to the confidence and assurance the client has with Wood Bain as their advisor.
What is your most fond memory from that year?
The fondest memory came out of one of the darkest times our country has ever seen. The 2001 SHFM National Conference was scheduled to begin on September 18 in Boca Raton when the horrific events of 9/11 unfolded. The way the food industry rallied to support the recovery efforts, in Washington D.C. but particularly in New York City, and the role we played was incredible. The conference was rescheduled to the end of October and despite travel restrictions and fears it was an emotional, uplifting experience. Despite the six week delay and the decreased attendance all the sponsors remained except for one.  I am sure it was a conference that those who attended will never forget.