(November 11, 2010)—Legacy Foodservice Alliance recently marked its one year anniversary by announcing the dates for its purchasing conferences for 2011. These events, individually dubbed The Marketplace, will be held:
- February 21-23, 2011 at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando
- September 19-21, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore
Led by a group of industry veterans, Legacy continues to leave behind practices that have not contributed to growth for distributors and their supplier partners. "It's our mission to provide the environment through which supply chain partners can connect, share, sustain, succeed, and thrive," explained CEO Steve Push. "Our Marketplace model is a vibrant and living example of our mission in action. Group buying shows just haven't improved much in the last 30 years. We think that's unfortunate and are working to change that. With the time and resource commitment that all participants are asked to make, it's a requirement that the groups deliver better value at the conferences," said Push.
"We talk a lot about Y Legacy, and our first two Y words, Simplicity and Intimacy are cornerstones of The Marketplace, " continued Push. The distributor members follow a simple yet well thought out meeting schedule, and meet with most of the supplier members in a one-on-one environment. It's a simple process focused on achieving strategic outcomes in an intimate meeting setting. A limited number of supplier meeting spaces are made available, and both events are expected to reach capacity early.
Legacy abandoned the exhibit hall atmosphere in favor of private, intimate meeting spaces and suites. "This enables trading partners to have confidential meetings without distractions and interruptions, and simply facilitates more strategic discussions where the work can get done," adds Don Hughes, executive vice president of merchandising. "The discussions take the tone of finding common ways to grow the business, rather than wrestling for a quarter a case."
By eliminating the exhibit hall Legacy eliminated much of the expense which has to be passed on to the exhibitors. "We ask that those savings be passed on to the distributor members in the form of enhanced show allowances," explained Hughes. By limiting the number of exhibitors Legacy has compressed the time commitment for the meeting, which is something suppliers had been requesting. Many of them may not have attended buying conferences due to scheduling conflicts, financial restraints, or a strategic decision to attend only one group show per year. "We support their decisions since our objective is not to sell out the booth space, but to produce a quality event for our trading partners," said Hughes. "We want to help the supplier members tell their story, learn more about their capabilities, and explore ways to mutually grow sales."
Legacy has created a way for suppliers to participate in The Marketplace--even if they can't attend and exhibit live--through The Marketplace Extension. The Marketplace Extension is a type of "no show" whereby suppliers who simply can't attend in person can promote their products and services to the distributor members. "In our model, everyone can win," said Hughes.
"Intimacy is critical to the whole Marketplace experience," says Legacy EVP of Sales Deb Winter. "It's hard to create an air of intimacy at a gathering of a thousand of your closet friends."The group limits its size to keep meetings private and maximize the networking opportunities for all distributor and supplier members. "Even the reception venues are selected to create an air of closeness so that you can connect with anyone you wish," said Winter. "It's a setting where, to use an old expression, 'everyone knows your name'." This was validated by the rave reviews received from the recently held Marketplace in Washington, DC.The Legacy Vision is working. In 10 months, the group has grown from zero to 45 distributor locations, with more joining soon. "Our pipeline is full of potential new Legacy distributor members," proclaims Winter. "We expect 2011 to be a banner year for the organization."