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From the 4th 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

Great Experiences and New Opportunities

This has been a fast-paced and exciting year! I thank you very much for your support and confidence in my ability to chair your Board of Directors during this special time. Over the year I have gained a unique appreciation for President & CEO Ed Lump and his staff. Their commitment to a successful and productive association are unsurpassed. They are a dedicated and special group of people that spend their days caring for all our needs and the needs of our member restaurants and their employees. Ed has surrounded himself with talented and faithful professionals. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to get to know them better.

As Ed prepares to retire in March of 2018, I have been charged with the duty of facilitating the search for our next leader. It has been a wonderful experience. I have gotten to know many of the committee members on a new level. You can be assured that since January, 2017 there have been 14 WRA board members who have dedicated countless hours and miles traveling to Madison more times than I can remember to be sure all aspects of the search have been thoroughly thought out and researched. We have spent time understanding the workings of the office, staff and our needs and dreams for the future of the organization. As we approach a final decision and choose a new CEO to present to the Board of Directors for approval, I am confident (and I hope you will be), that we have considered many candidates and have taken the responsibility of the task with the utmost importance.

Although we look to the future with much satisfaction in where we have been, we anticipate success and enthusiastic prospects for our WRA. As we spend the remaining time with our current leader, Ed Lump, we will be celebrating his legacy and hope you will take advantage of these opportunities to congratulate and commend him on his success and wish him a healthy and happy retirement as we honor his many achievements.

We are currently in the process of updating our WRA website. The new site is a work in progress, but it’s moving along nicely. Focusing on workforce development and providing restaurants with resources for coping with staffing challenges was my 2017 goal. In the past year we have been visiting many government agencies and non-profit organizations focused on employment. We have learned about some resources that restaurant operators could possibly benefit from and are eager to share this information.

The busy staff at the office has been working on putting together a new portal on the website called “Now Hiring – Resources for Restaurants.” The portal, which is now live on WRA’s website, has links to many different resources to help restaurants cope with the current staffing shortage. We will be sharing the information with WRA members via the website and an email campaign in hopes it will be of help finding employees and available resources in your communities.

I am blessed to have served as your 2017 chair and thank you for the opportunity you shared with me. I encourage you to get involved in your chapter or at the state level. You won’t be disappointed in the experience and time well spent with your peers.

Thank you very much and I wish you health and success in your businesses.

Politics, Advocacy and Holidays

I became interested in politics when I was 10. That is the year we got our first TV (imagine that). I was home one summer afternoon and my grandmother was watching the GOP National Convention. The contest was between an “establishment” Republican, Robert Taft, and an upstart without partisan political experience, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. No one could argue that Eisenhower wasn’t a successful general but they could, and did, question his GOP credentials.

Neither candidate had enough pledged votes when the convention started to claim the nomination. After many speeches and multiple ballots, Eisenhower prevailed. What a fight; how exciting!

Now I was hooked and could hardly wait for the Democratic Convention. The situation was the same, but the candidates were different. A former Governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson II, was being challenged by a Senator from Tennessee, Estes Kefauver (he wore a coon skin cap). Stevenson eventually won the nomination. This was good stuff!

The same battles occurred over Vice President. Nixon won the GOP and Kefauver the Dems.

So, in my 10th year I found one of the passions that has dominated my life and my career. I never got elected president, governor, senator, congressman, mayor or much else. I did receive the greatest privilege possible. I was hired as President & CEO of WRA—oh, and a lobbyist.

I recognized the importance of advocacy (lobbying) as a restaurant owner. Opening a restaurant was the hardest thing I have ever done and, to this day, the hardest I have ever worked. If that wasn’t enough, I learned right off the bat, that there are four levels of government regulation to be dealt with (federal, state, county & local municipality). Also, above the existing regulations, the government is always trying to pass more to make life “easier” (really). Keeping up with government is difficult and failing to keep up can bring severe penalties. Suddenly, I had a CPA and an attorney as my expensive new best friends.

I needed help and therefore, I got involved in the restaurant association. WRA could show me a path and could be my advocate. I eventually became president of the Madison Chapter, served on the state board and became chairman. The restaurant industry became another passion.

This all came together on a warm spring evening when my wife, Susan, asked me why I wasn’t applying for the CEO position at WRA that had opened up. When I couldn’t come up with a good reason for applying, she supplied one. She pointed out that, if I got the position, I would be serving an industry that I loved and knew a great deal about. And I would also have to be involved in government; something I had always wanted to do.

As usual, Susan was right. I was hired and my whole life came together. WRA has never been a job to me. It has been a passion. Thank you, Susan.

Finally, I wish all of you the most successful and happiest of holiday seasons. I offer this prayer:

May the enthusiasm of your employees be your joy; may the smiles of your customers be your reward; and may you find love in in the promise of the season.

May God bless you.

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