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From the 2nd Quarter 2017 issue of Wisconsin Restaurateur Magazine
Chairman photo

Chair’s Column

Susie Patterson
Al & Al’s Stein Haus, Sheboygan

  Ed Lump. FMP photo

President’s Column

Ed Lump, FMP
WRA President and CEO

Focusing on Workforce Solutions

Well, it’s been a busy couple months. The Midwest Foodservice Expo was a huge success! It was exciting to be a part of the show serving as board chair this year. It’s always great to see the high school and college students compete and to be a part of presenting awards to the students was really great. They all work so very hard, and to see their excitement when they succeed is truly a heartwarming experience. They are the future of our industry.

Mark and Jean Landreman from Landreman’s Family Restaurant in Kaukauna were the winners of the Restaurateurs of the Year award which is well-deserved. They are a true inspiration to all of us. Their commitment to the industry and their community is to be admired. Congratulations to Mark and Jean and their family.

Then in April, we traveled to Washington, DC for the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference. That was another terrific experience. We had nearly 40 Wisconsin restaurateurs in the delegation this year. We were able to visit all of our legislative offices and share our concerns and stories. We made a real impact on Washington, DC. The highlight of the legislative day was our personal meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan—and the great view from his balcony.

We descended on our State Capitol in Madison for Restaurant Advocacy Day on April 26 to share our unique restaurant perspective. You should join us next year. It’s always a rewarding experience.

Following up on my goal of workforce development, we met with staff from the Department of Workforce Development in Madison in April. They shared a very informational presentation with our group. We spent some time focused on the Job Center of Wisconsin and the benefits available to each of us as employers. Some of the benefits we discussed were: training, skills development, the Fast Forward program and Veterans Services to name a few. They offer recruitment services, application and resume collection and screening in addition to many other services. The Job Center website offers a new feature that matches skills and they are designing an internship portal that will be available in July. It would be to your benefit to develop a working relationship with your local Job Center. Maybe invite them to speak at your local WRA chapter meeting?

The topic that was near and dear to my heart was a presentation from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). My experience with employees from this program has been nothing but successful. We have hired about 20 people with disabilities over the years through this program. Four of them still work for us (some after leaving the program). They are excited to work, highly motivated and in many cases, they come with training and a job coach. One in five people have disabilities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work and often have more motivation than you’ve seen from typical job candidates. They want to work and are proud to have a job. I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t looked into your local program to give them a call.

We will continue to meet and address the issues of our workforce and are scheduling a meeting in the Milwaukee area as our next step. There are several programs that are showing success and we look forward to learning about them and how we might expand or use them to benefit other areas of the state. I invite you to attend any of these meetings. Just contact me for more information (susie@alnals.com).

Wishing you all the best!

Retirement Announcement

At the January WRA Board of Directors meeting, I announced that I will retire at the end of March 2018, so, slightly less than a year from now. I will have been honored and blessed to serve this great industry just short of 37 years.

I will write more about this later in the year, but as I pondered and prayed about this decision, I realized that I have never looked at serving the members of WRA and the industry as a job. It has been a calling.

Amidst the challenges, there has been a lot of fun. There is nothing quite like knowing that one has made a difference; the satisfaction of helping a member; getting a law passed that makes the road easier for the industry; or offering a program or benefit that facilitates growth and protection. It has been wonderful to be a mentor to my staff and to watch them grow both with WRA and beyond.

I will miss much. WRA turned out to be my life’s work. The restaurant industry has been my passion for over 50 years. There is little that I enjoy more than talking to members and sharing stories. Over time, I’ve driven most of the roads in this beautiful state while visiting chapters and attending meetings. My work as your lobbyist and working with government on your behalf has brought much satisfaction. Despite its flaws and frustrations, our democracy is the best system of government ever created. It has been my privilege to represent you in Wisconsin and, at times, in Washington. I will greatly miss the “fun” events such as the sporting clays shoots, the golf outings and the Expo. However, I hope to continue to participate in some of these as an alum.

Your Chair of the Board, Susie Patterson, is leading the committee that is charged with selecting a new CEO. This group of talented restaurateurs is already well into the process and members can be confident in the outcome.

WRA and the WRA Education Foundation have always had great policy making boards. It has been a humbling experience to work with so many of these dedicated leaders over the years. Most members will never know how much time, treasure and talent these dedicated servant leaders give to the association and the industry.

I want you to know that this is a very difficult decision, but it is the right time to make it. WRA is in a good place, and has a great reputation in Wisconsin and beyond. Our finances are strong and we have a very dedicated professional staff in place.

I also want members to know that I have no intention of being a “lame duck.” I intend to contribute until that day at the end of March next year arrives and possibly beyond. I look forward to seeing many of you at meetings, events and the 2018 Midwest Foodservice Expo.

God bless.

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