For over 20 years, a team of world-class merchandisers has created a 10,000 sq. ft. retail merchandising and idea center filled with selling ideas and merchandising displays at the IDDBA Trade Show’s annual event. Since its inception, the Hubert Company has proudly sponsored and been an integral component of the Show and Sell Center’s success. Hubert’s passionate commitment to visual merchandising is the driving force of our steadfast sponsorship and our desire to create Worldwide Excellence in Food Merchandising.
Planning begins every year at Hubert’s corporate offices in Harrison, Ohio. Merchandisers, directors and foodies from notable retailers and wholesalers across the country make the annual journey and divide into teams of Bakery, Deli, Cheese and Meals to begin the six-month process of creating the dynamic displays seen in the Show & Sell Center. These industry volunteers are joined by Hubert Food Retail Business Developers and Hubert Merchandisers to create the year’s themes and select cutting edge products that drive sales at your stores and feed our nation.
After months of preparation, everyone converges at the convention site two days before the IDDBA Show with plans, product, merchandising equipment and cases. The area behind the Show & Sell Center is strategically laid out for each team with over 50 prep tables, 25 speed racks, 100’s of sheet pans, a walk-in cooler, 10 reach-in refrigerators, fryers, combi-ovens, stoves, 3-compartment sinks, portable water systems, stand mixers, trash cans, carts, planning tables, chairs, large crates full of merchandising products and lots of food.
This small but well-equipped army meets at 8 am the Friday before the show begins. After a hearty breakfast and a pep talk from Carol Christison, IDDBA’s Executive Director, the frenzy begins. Chefs from each team lay out menus and organize prep areas. Shipping crates are cracked open, and carefully packed boxes containing the products for each case begin pouring into the Show and Sell Center. The teams assign merchandisers to unpack and set cases; the time is frantic and excitement is high. Now is the time we see if all of our well-laid plans will bear the promise of their fruit. For most of the morning this dance continues – full boxes move onto the floor, product is unpacked and the empty boxes are saved and returned to storage. Even at this early stage, much thought is given to exit plans and everything is staged for repack after the show.
By mid-day, most of the boxes are unpacked and cases have been set. After a break for lunch, it is the time to make final adjustments. Plans are set in motion to ship in additional items needed to complete the sets, food prep begins in earnest, equipment is fired up, and the cooking begins. By the end of the day, well over half of the work is complete, yet the Show and Sell Center still looks like a disaster zone.
Day Two also begins with breakfast as teams regroup and review the long to-do lists. Food prep and cooking continues. Last minute shipments arrive by mid-morning and the case sets and displays finally begin to take shape. After lunch, the mad dashes from the kitchen prep areas to the display area begins. The chefs have identified which foods will be displayed and sequenced, so team members begin filling bowls and garnishing them to create the eye-catching finished product we have all come to admire and can’t wait to see. After cases are filled, clean up begins in both the display and food prep areas. Team members are exhausted; they have endured two grueling days of hot, humid weather all out of their desire to create displays that teach, sell, and drive food merchandising excellence.
Ask any of the team members why they do it – why they volunteer their time and expertise – and most will answer that it is simply because they love it. They love the opportunity to be a part of a team with some of the best merchandisers in the industry. They learn from each other as ideas are created. The whole process sharpens the skills that they bring back to their “day jobs”. They network with people they might not have otherwise met and many of these relationships develop into life-long friendships; it’s fun and satisfying to see the same great colleagues year in and year out and to meet new ones. There is a large number of team members that have worked Show & Sell for well over 10 years, and the amount of professional experience held in one place is astounding. And, most of all, they value your response. When this group of seasoned experts sees how the industry responds to the various case sets and ideas they have spent months planning, the feeling is indescribable. And when they hear you say, “Yes! That’s something we can do in our stores,” all their effort is worthwhile.
David Whitesel has been an Account Development Manager at Hubert Company for over 24 years. He also owns and operates a 34-acre grain farm that produces corn, soybeans, wheat, beef cattle, chickens, eggs, and a variety of fresh produce.