It gives me great pleasure to write to you as your new president of the Retail Bakers of America. My acceptance of the roll of the president reflects my sincere belief that a strong RBA is essential for our industry. I want to begin by thanking our past president Ken Downey, the board, and staff for the time they've put in to help the RBA become strong and sustainable once again. We wouldn't be in the growth position we are in today without Ken's leadership and the board's determination to make the RBA successful. I am proud to say that our current board of directors and staff are all on board with progressive, forward thinking ideas and the energy to make the RBA better than ever.
The past few years the board of directors spent most of our time talking about the needs of retail bakeries. The strategic planning sessions, emergency meetings, tons of conference calls, and those rare heated moments have really paid off. We made the decision to keep the RBA's focus on education and certification. Our Roadshows are a gathering of educational workshops given by some of the top leaders in the industry, bakery tours (who doesn't love to see behind the scenes at someone else's shop?) and vendor display tables. It's a full day of networking, learning, and fun. I'm happy to say they are a smashing success! Certification is picking up steam. We've got some wonderful people on the committee dedicated to making sure the certificate is relevant and advantageous.
Running a retail bakery today poses many challenges. We need to network, learn, share, and even vent with other bakery owners and managers. Bakers share graciously, unlike any industry I've ever seen. Some of my dearest friends are bakery owners that I've met through the RBA. We share information, commiserate, prop each other up on hard days, and offer help whenever asked. The RBA members-only Baker2Baker newsgroup is a wonderful way to achieve that type of connection. Aside from the amazing support you can find, you can also get an almost instant response to a formula question, a HR struggle or even where to find cake pop sticks. Personally, I find this benefit priceless. We are moving the B2B board over to our new website from the current yahoo based site. Once the initial learning curve is over, we hope the B2B board will become invaluable to you as well.
We are always looking for new affinity programs for your bakery to help you save money and have expert advice available. One of the most recent additions to our affinity family is WindRiver Financial. They offer a merchant services program that provides members with a better-than-competitive rate. This is just one of the ways our Director of Operations, Bernadette Haas, vets outside companies to make your RBA membership work for you in every way.
It's been said that we've made some really hard decisions these last few years. It's true... and I'm not ready to relax yet! We've got more work to do. However, one thing I know for sure is that it really is a new RBA and I'm honored to be your president.