Chosen from among the group's 4,000 sales reps, the top 1% represents more than 528 years of industry experience and more than $135 million in annual group street sales, and services 2,300 accounts.
"This group really is the best of the best. They were prepared to hear my message and have the sales volume, savvy and motivation to take my ideas back to their customers and run with them," said Ed Zimmerman, one of the attending guest speakers and president of Success Foods Inc.
During the concluding awards ceremony, the first-year attendees received Top Gun bomber jackets while second-year attendees were presented with a plaque. Additionally, Mike Johnson, the group's national training manager, revealed that Robert Divita of Latina Food Service, a Buonamici affiliate in Tonawanda, NY, was chosen to be the ID DSR of the Month for January 2005.
Attendees confirmed that the Success Solutions team that organized the Top Gun academy, developed a superior, advanced training program by inviting top industry experts to talk about their products and services. Harry Crane, with Kraft Food Service, again provided cutting-edge trend information, while Ed Talbott and David Haberkorn, with the Wisconsin Milk and Marketing Board, discussed their products' marketing opportunities. The sales reps also found the presentation given by Koch Foods Tim Fank, titled "How to be a True Consultant in the Poultry Industry," to be equally enlightening.
"This is my fourth year at Top Gun as a speaker and supplier partner. I find the program provides a great opportunity to network. You really can learn something from every single person that's here," said Gary Trotta, regional sales manager for Spurrier Chemical Companies, Inc., Wichita, KS.
Other speakers at Top Gun, like LeAnn Chuboff and Darlene Fournier with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF), provided the attendees with valuable information from the operator's point of view. Mark Allen, president and ceo of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), shared his views on some of the trends in the foodservice industry.
Also appearing were Chris McNamara, with Heinz Foods, a supporter of Top Gun since its inception, Shelly Barlogi, Michael Fein and Vicky Hunt-Brown of J.R. Simplot, whose session includes guacamole tasting, and Barbara Powell of Azar Nuts.
"All of the presentations were so educational. I felt like all of my questions plus some were completely covered. It was more information than I ever expected to receive," observed Wendy Miller, Bosco Food Service, Bay City, MI.