Another cycle of “The Best Week in Baking” approaches as BakingTech meets early next year. The American Society of Baking (ASB) is hosting the event February 25-27 at the Hilton Chicago, and this year’s theme is “Sustainability — Success through People, Products and Productivity.”

While there are several speakers and educational sessions dedicated to this theme, the crescendo of the meeting will be the baker panel on how to build a sustainable culture. Panelists include Allen Shiver, president and CEO, Flowers Foods; Cordia Harrington, founder, CEO and president, Tennessee Bun Co.; and Josh Skow, co-founder and CEO, Canyon Bakehouse. Theresa Cogswell, BakingTech program chair, says the different perspectives from panelists will provide valuable insight into different ways of building the best culture for a business.
ASB chose BakingTech’s theme during the meeting of the association’s 2017 board of directors. The group identified issues they felt would impact the long-term sustainability of ASB. These topics included the next generation of members, financial growth, increased networking opportunities and industry consolidation.
“The issue identified by the majority of bakers as having the greatest impact on their productivity is people,” says Kent Van Amberg, executive director, ASB.
BakingTech will feature a panel on how to hire and retain employees from some non-traditional sources such as refugees, veterans, and former prison inmates. Additionally, engineering educational sessions will focus on recruiting, training, managing, and retaining maintenance employees. Rowdy Brixey, president, Brixey Engineering, Inc., will present “How to Manage the Maintenance Manager” on February 26.
The keynote speaker on February 26 will be Mario Somoza, president and CEO, Pan Pepin, Inc. In “Riding the Storm Out: The survival and rebuilding of Pan Pepin and Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria,” Mr. Somoza will detail the recovery efforts his company endured after the bakery was hit by the two hurricanes that made landfall in Puerto Rico earlier this year.
ASB will also induct five new members to the Baking Hall of Fame on February 26. Inductees include Ms. Harrington; Connie Lane and William Mead, Campbell Taggart, Inc.; and Michael and Lawrence Marcucci, Alpha Baking Co.
New this year is the Product Development Competition, which will now be showcased during the opening general session. In a format similar to the popular television show “Shark Tank,” student teams will present their proposals for innovative bakery products in the sweet goods category to a panel of industry judges that includes Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Hostess Brands. Attendees can also score the presentations through the ASB meeting mobile app.
In conjunction with ASB, BEMA will kick off its 100th anniversary celebrations with events at its annual Summit on February 24-25, also at the Hilton Chicago. The events will highlight the impact that BEMA and its members have had on the baking industry for the past century. The Summit also features insight on the Chinese bakery market and expertise from successful member companies establishing operations in China.
Registration and housing for both events are now open. Early reduced rates for ASB close on January 12. For more information on the two events, visit and