For those of you who ever wonder whether attending a bakery trade show is worth the investment in time and money, the 2019 edition of the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) proved that it most certainly is well worth it. From the first moment of my experience when I visited with Stephen Walsh of Bethel Bakery in Pittsburgh, while attending The RPIA Group’s Basic of Baking education program, I recognized this event was going to deliver on more technical knowledge and expertise, as well as valuable consumer insights, than I had ever witnessed during my 19 years as editor of bake.

The IBIE recently wrapped up its largest show to date, with the most comprehensive baking industry expo in the Western Hemisphere welcoming industry professionals from around the world on Sept. 7-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Nearly 1,000 exhibitors (237 new to IBIE) and the largest show floor in history allowed this year’s event to break records for growth. More than 20,000 professionals (with nearly 10% higher baker attendance over the previous expo) walked the exhibit hall and attended education sessions. Walking the show, it was clear to me why it is more important than ever to invest in yourself, your team and your brand because the world is changing rapidly, and you can’t do or fix everything yourself.

In the words of Randy McArthur, who spoke at RPIA’s program: “You need a system in place to track trends because times are changing at lightning speed today. How you go to market depends on who you are. One of the biggest issues I learned from owning a bakery was to work in your business, not on your business. As entrepreneurs, we can expect our staff to know what we know, and they don’t. Unexpressed expectations will not be met. A great plan needs a great team.”

In less than a week during IBIE, I learned more about the present and future of retail baking than I have during my previous years in the bakery business combined. My only regret is that I could not clone myself five times over to soak in the incredible wealth of knowledge available.