While most attendees at the 2008 North America Pizza & Ice Cream Show (NAPICS) will leave with real-life tips and innovative ideas, one will walk away with something a little heavier: a free pizza oven.
Pizza Equipment Supply Inc. (PESI) and Presto Foods have teamed up to raffle off a PS1828 oven, part of PESI's Pro Series line, during the awards show Feb. 18. Tickets will be sold for $1 and proceeds will benefit a local charity.
Only one person will win the oven, but countless others can take advantage of the vast array of products offered by the anticipated 220 exhibitors. The two-day event is set for Feb. 17-18 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, and can be a one-stop shopping experience for attendees.
"An attendee can expect to see every kind of product and service that they would need to run and manage their operations," said Peter Stern, sales manager for NAPICS, adding that many of these items will be offered at special show prices.
Pizza operators will have a wealth of choices for ingredients, toppings and everything from small appliances to full-fledged industrial equipment, including walk-in coolers, reach-ins, ovens and POS systems.
Presto Foods, a pizza/Italian distributor, stocks a full line of mozzarella cheese, meat toppings and chicken boxes, as well as equipment ranging from ovens to mixers. Having attended every NAPICS since it began five years ago, Presto returns each year because of the positive results.
"We have a great turnout every year at the show," said John Harrison, general manager in Louisville, Ky. "We gain a lot of new contacts from it every year, so it's always positive feedback from both our food customers and our equipment customers."
Frozen dessert operators also can outfit their stores with equipment to make and dispense ice creams as well as gelatos, sorbets and tart yogurts. Ice creams, mixes, toppings, ingredients — one company focuses entirely on vanilla, Stern said — also will be on display.
Advanced Gourmet owner Jim Hall said his company is returning to NAPICS for the second year because their target audiences are one and the same.
"People that already have a shop, whether it be a pizzeria or a coffee shop, are prime candidates to add gelato, sorbets, frozen desserts, ice cream, custard or anything like that to their existing menu," he said.
This year, Advanced Gourmet will showcase its Mix-Gel, a machine that heats and freezes products for the creation of gelato and sorbets. The company hopes to capitalize on what Hall sees as the next trend in the frozen dessert business — the gelateria.
"Hopefully, we'll find a lot of people that are interested in the new and upcoming surge in the frozen dessert business," he said, "People who may be interested in opening a gelato shop or adding gelato to an existing coffee shop or ice cream shop."
A place for purchases — and powwows
NAPICS — the second-largest pizza-focused trade show in the country, the only pizza show in the Midwest and the largest frozen dessert show in the Midwest — is heralded as a show where many attendees are ready with their pocketbooks.
"It is much more of a buying show than a lot of non-distributor shows are," Stern said.
Some of that willingness to buy may be attributed to the local nature of the show. Many attendees come from within a 250-mile radius of Columbus, drawing operators not only from Ohio, but Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan as well.
"The buyers are more down to earth and they're more ready to buy," said Marcus Bramhall, president of PESI. "I have more serious buyers for the NAPICS show than I do for the other shows."
To encourage sales, many exhibitors will offer show specials. For example, PESI, which will be showing its full line of Pro Series ovens as well as mixers, will offer some of its equipment at 10 percent off list price.
And with more than 5,000 attendees expected at the show, opportunity abounds for purchasing decisions. Bramhall said his company usually can count on half a million dollars in gross sales per NAPICS. But it also serves as a forum to make connections.
"We drop our database of everybody that's within that 250-mile radius and invite them to come see us at NAPICS," Bramhall said. "We use it as a mecca for meetings."