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From the 1st Quarter 2018 issue of Wisconsin Restaurateur Magazine
Chair photo

Chair’s Column

Jean Landreman
Landreman's Family Restaurant, Kaukauna

  Ed Lump. FMP photo

President’s Column

Ed Lump, FMP
WRA President and CEO


An Exciting Year Ahead!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jean Landreman. In 1995, my husband Mark and I opened Landreman’s Family Restaurant in Kaukauna. We truly are a “family restaurant.” Our two daughters were in high school when we opened the restaurant. They went on to college, married, had kids and both continue as part- and full-time employees. I’m not sure where we would be without their help and dedication. We just started our 23rd year in business. Of our 25 employees, eight have been with us from the beginning.

At the Awards Dinner during the Midwest Foodservice Expo last March, Mark and I were honored as the 2017 Restaurateurs of the Year (ROY). What an absolutely humbling experience. As many of you may agree, serving our industry and community is something we do because it is in our nature. It’s the way we were raised, to give back, not seek recognition. But when recognition does happen of this magnitude, it is truly an honor. We still get emotional just thinking about it. Thank you again to the awards committee.

I would like to thank Ada Lara Thimke from the former Lara’s Tortilla Flats in Oshkosh for trusting me in this role as chair. She appointed me to the WRA board of directors executive committee when she was chair of the board. My husband, Mark, had worked in the restaurant industry for over 20 years when we opened our own restaurant. His former employer was a WRA member, so we became members even before we opened the doors. We were fortunate to have already known the value of the association.

You may not know this, but any WRA member can attend the state board of directors’ meetings. As chapter president, I was encouraged to attend state board meetings, and that’s how I got where I am today. After attending those meetings during my chapter presidency for two years, I inquired about serving on the state level. Nobody asked me; I pursued it. My point here is, if you are interested at all about getting involved, just do it. Don’t wait to be asked, WRA is excited to learn your opinions, thoughts and expertise from working in our great industry.

My platform this year is “Get Involved.” I encourage you to attend chapter events and meetings. This is the perfect opportunity for you to tell your story and voice your opinion. It’s also a great way to network and brainstorm with industry leaders who are in the same boat you are and learn what they are doing to solve or avoid problems. We are a part of something that everyone needs and wants, not only food and nourishment, but engagement, conversation, interaction and experience. We are hospitality.

As a member of the executive committee this year, I was honored to be on the selection committee for WRA’s new President & CEO. There were 14 of us from all over the state that had the opportunity to be a part of a process that hasn’t happened in our association for almost 36 years due to the longevity of Ed Lump’s tenure at WRA. We are proud of what we accomplished and strongly believe we chose the best candidate to not only honor and preserve Ed Lump’s legacy, but give the association a new perspective and energy. Please welcome Kristine Hillmer as WRA’s new President & CEO. Kristine does not officially start in her position until April 1, 2018. She has however already attended some important events like Restaurant Advocacy Day in Madison on January 24 and she'll be at the Midwest Foodservice Expo March 12-14. I strongly encourage you to attend the Expo, not only to meet Kristine, but to see firsthand that WRA has your back.

Feel free to contact me at lfr1995@hotmail.com. Wishing you a prosperous New Year!


“A Time for Everything Under the Sun”

This issue of the Wisconsin Restaurateur marks the last column that I will write as President & CEO. Most readers probably know by now that I am retiring on March 31, 2018. I have written over 300 columns in my 37 years with only one re-run. I will miss writing this column because it’s fun, but I won’t miss the deadlines.

When I was hired, the Board of Directors gave me a few instructions; grow the membership, improve the finances and win in the state legislature. This has been the directive ever since then. Of course, I must report to a vigilant Finance Committee and Board.

The number of restaurants we represent today is more than 15 times the number in 1981. Financially, we are much stronger both in annual income and reserves. Because of this, the association has been able to weather four major recessions without a decline in services.

WRA added an Education Foundation in 1987 to administer scholarships, oversee food safety and alcohol service training (ServSafe®) and manage the nationally acclaimed high school culinary and management curriculum (ProStart®); now in over 110 Wisconsin schools. Workforce development is high on the foundation’s list of current tasks. WRA EF now has a strong and growing endowment.

Legislatively, we have developed an excellent reputation for our advocacy efforts. Our accomplishments have been too numerous to list, but WRA has almost never approached a legislative issue with an absolute no. We have always tried to mold legislation to achieve the largest benefit for our members. We have always been an association not of the past but of the future.

WRA’s Midwest Foodservice Expo continues to evolve, innovate and prosper. As a restaurant owner, I attended my first show in 1970. The 2018 show will be the 48th that I have attended either as a customer, vendor or staff. I look forward to seeing you all at the Expo this year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank every Chair and Board member who has ever served on the Board of WRA or WRA EF. No CEO can ever run an effective organization that does not have a Board made up of leaders that are willing to give generously of their time, treasure and talent.

The Board has always given me the resources to hire, develop and maintain a top flight professional staff. Top to bottom, full or part-time, the staff of WRA and WRA EF never forgets that they serve the members and the industry. We have developed a true servant culture at WRA. I can't say enough about my staff. They are a team and they are a family. I love them all.

I want to compliment the members of the Executive Selection Team, particularly their leaders, Susie Patterson and Jean Landreman. Readers cannot imagine how much time and effort these individuals put in over the last 12 months to choose your new CEO. This was all volunteer time from men and women who have businesses to run. In my opinion they have made an excellent choice. I believe Kristine Hillmer is a visionary who will move WRA forward to meet the challenges before us. She will be at the 2018 Expo. Please give her a warm WRA welcome.

I have been so blessed to have been the President & CEO of WRA. To this point, this has been my life’s work. As the title of this column that I borrowed from Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, there is a time for everything under the sun. It’s hard to retire from something you love. However, WRA is in a good place and so am I. So, it is time.

God bless WRA, God bless all of you and God bless America.

 
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