Pizza operators seeking to super-charge their businesses will not want to miss the North America Pizza & Ice Cream Show, set for Feb. 7-9, 2004, in Columbus, Ohio.
Three days of unprecedented educational opportunities will be offered, including an exclusive, daylong, registration-required Pizza Operator's Workshop.
For more than a decade, the event was called the Mid-America Restaurant, Pizza & Soft-Serve show, but when organizers examined the show's attendee base, they realized the time had come to remove the general restaurant focus of the event, and increase the emphasis on pizza, said 2004 show chairwoman Ann Reichle.
"No matter how hard we tried to drive the restaurant side, it was always attended by a majority of pizza and ice cream operators," she said. "So we decided to niche market this show, which makes sense anyway, since pizza and ice cream are complementary items."
According to show organizer Peter Stern, of Boston-based Exhibit Productions, Inc., 28 percent of America's pizza operations are in Ohio and the five contiguous states, making Columbus a great center point for the show.
"This is one of the largest, densest slices of pizza operations in the country, so it's a natural to have the show here," Stern said.
It's also a natural choice for exhibitors seeking to show their foods, beverages, wares and equipment to more than 5,000 qualified operator attendees.
According to Stern, this year's expanded exhibit floor will contain 400 to 450 booths featuring some 360 companies' products. Sixty-five percent of all booth space is already sold, he added.
* For the first time ever, NAPICS will offer a daylong, admission-only Pizza Operator's Workshop. The Workshop will feature four top pizza industry consultants leading seminars tailored to the needs of operators who want to take their businesses to the next level. Presenters include: Operations, Big Dave Ostrander (Big Dave Ostrander Consulting, inventor of FoodCost Pro); Marketing, Kamron Karington (author of "The Black Book" of pizza marketing); Dough, Tom Lehmann (Director, American Institute of Baking, known industry wide as the Dough Doctor); and Back-of-the-House, Jim Laube (consultant and operator of RestaurantOwner.com).
Admission to the limited-seating workshops is $165, which includes access to all four sessions, materials, lunch and tickets to the NAPICS show. A cocktail reception, with all the presenters, follows the workshops.
"This is a complete course on running a restaurant, both for new operators and for operators who've been in the business a number of years," said Reichle. "I am sending two managers there and I'm attending myself."
Sunday, Sunday, Monday
* On Sunday, Feb. 8, the NAPICS show kicks off with an in-depth two-hour session titled "Price Risk Management Strategies for Pizza Operators." Jeff DeGrand, a veteran commodities broker from Chicago's Downes-O'Neill, will show how operators of any-size pizza business can smooth out the roller-coaster ride of cheese market prices. Any operator who wants to get a firm grip on cheese costs should attend.
* P.J. Giannini, an insurance expert from Assurance Systems Group, will address the crucial issue of properly insuring pizza operations and their drivers.
* Later in the day, NAPICS will host its first-ever President's Panel, in which presidents of four large and emerging pizza-centered chains give their views on the evolving pizza industry. PizzaMarketplace Editor Steve Coomes will moderate the panel.
* Another first at the NAPICS show will be the Pizza Women's Roundtable. Consultant Dave Ostrander will moderate what is sure to be a lively and frank discussion between the audience and four women who are leaders in their respective pizza companies.
On Monday, Ostrander will lead a take-and-bake centered seminar titled "The Next Mega Trend -- Is it Right for You?" (At similar industry shows, Ostrander draws standing-room only crowds for this subject, so get there early.)
Throughout the event, the annual Pizza Pizzazz competition will be underway as pizza operators compete for spots on the U.S. Pizza Team. Winning team members will travel -- expenses paid -- to Salsomaggiore, Italy in March to represent their country in the World Pizza Championships.
Spots up for grabs during the NAPICS show are best Traditional Pizza and best Gourmet Pizza (see www.uspizzateam.com for official rules and entry instructions).
The event draws more than 100 pizza makers to Columbus, many of whom travel thousands of miles to compete.
The Pizza Pizzazz will be capped off on Monday with the U.S. Pizza Team Acrobatic Trials. Here competitors perform challenging dough tossing routines to win one of two spots on the team which heads to Italy. Don't miss this must-see event.
Top it Off with Ice Cream
* A significant portion of NAPICS programs will center on ice cream and desserts, including a Sunday morning presentation by Malcolm Stogo, titled "Getting Started in the Ice Cream Business." As the founder of Stogo Associates, an ice cream consulting firm, Stogo has written numerous books on the industry.
* Kappus Company's Ken Matt will lead a frozen dessert seminar on Building Upscale Novelties, followed by a presentation by Michael Turback, author of "A Month of Sundaes."
* On Monday, Connie Cahill will lead attendees through an interactive seminar titled "Desserts Gone Wild," followed by part two of Stogo's "Getting Started in the Ice Cream Business."
Hands-on ... everything
New to the 2004 NAPICS show will be a one-of-a-kind Pizza Industry Test Kitchen. Ever get frustrated wondering how that conveyor oven on the show floor will actually bake a pizza? Not only will you be able to test it out personally in the Test Kitchen, you'll be able to compare its performance with other oven models ... plus mixers, sheeters ... you name it. Every piece of equipment essential to running a pizza operation will be running and available for your perusal and demonstration at the show.
And to make the "test drive" authentic, there will even be fresh dough, sauce, cheese and toppings on hand.
"This is the perfect chance to try it before you buy it," said Reichle. "No other show offers this kind of opportunity to test a piece of equipment for yourself and talk about it with the experts." (More details on the this event will be forthcoming on PizzaMarketplace.com)
Sponsorships are going fast
All NAPICS exhibitors are invited to consider sponsoring the show's programming. And while sponsorship of many events are already reserved, a few opportunities remain. For more information, call Peter Stern, Event Productions, Inc., at 800-909-7469.