Thoughts from a first-time RFMA exhibitor.

The EMR team (Emily Martin, Gabby Kuhar, Charles Blair & John Salemme) is officially back into therfma emr swing of our daily routines after an incredible Restaurant Facility Management Association (RFMA) 2024 Annual Conference! As promised, we’re sharing a full breakdown of our experience here where we will reminisce about the vibrant energy and magic of this extraordinary conference. From the energizing speakers to the thought-provoking discussions and being surrounded by like-minded restaurant facility folks – it was an unforgettable experience that we were honored to attend and be a part of.


We’ve Arrived: Setting the stage for a successful conference experience.

Being that EMR is mid-Atlantic based and headquartered in Baltimore, MD this was a local show for our team and the commute to the Gaylord National was swift and easy! Every staff member was extremely attentive and eager to assist with any needs that our team had. The entire hotel/resort was booming with energy and excitement for the conference. It was incredible to see the lobby flooded with RFMA badges and realizing everyone was there for the same reason: connection, learning, and collaboration. Once our team got the EMR booth setup and ready for showtime, reality set in that the time and effort we had spent preparing for this show was finally coming to fruition!


Opening Ceremony: Igniting inspiration.

The curtains rose on RFMA with a spectacular opening ceremony that set the stage for what was to come over the next 48 hours. We had the privilege of hearing from some of the brightest minds and boldest visionaries in the restaurant facilities industry. Speakers took to the stage and the energy in the room was palpable. Debi Kensell, Executive Director & CEO of RFMA, gave a conference welcome, we were introduced to our 2024-2025 RFMA Board of Directors, we heard from RFMA’s 2023-2024 Board Chair, Bevin McPherson, CRFP with Sweetgreen, Inc. followed by the recap of the RFMA Gives 2024 charity project recipient, Wells House in Frederick, MD. The Keynote Speaker, Ryan Leak, CEO of the Ryan Leak Group, was absolutely riveting and left everyone in the room feeling motivated and inspired.


Showtime: “Meet the EMR team at Booth #1348!”

The heart of RFMA was undoubtedly the exhibitor floor, where companies showcased their latest offerings and innovations in support of the restaurant facility industry. Oh, and did we mention there was a “puppy playtime” booth? There was something enticing for everyone throughout the show floor. We would like to thank everyone who stopped by the EMR booth to meet our team, learn about our services and more importantly share your experiences in restaurant facilities management with us. There is endless value in transparent discussions between vendors and operators. This is where partnerships are built.


Educational Sessions & Discussions: Sharing different perspectives and insights.

In addition to the show floor hours, RFMA featured a series of educational seminars and workshops, where attendees could delve deeper into key restaurant facilities topics and gain actionable insights from seasoned professionals. These sessions covered a wide range of subjects, providing attendees with practical knowledge and strategies to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the foodservice industry. From planned maintenance to equipment downtime to females in facilities and so much more, these sessions sparked collaboration and challenging one another all with a common goal in mind.


Thank you to Nick Cribb (CFESA), Luke College (Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants), Sarah Mason (Chuy’s OPCO), Mike Morman (Five Guys Burgers and Fries), Michael Brown (Unlimited Service Group), Josh Zolin (Windy City Equipment Service (WCE), Danny Koontz (Windy City Equipment (WCE), Taylor Lomberk (Bagel Brands), Jana Coyle (Retail Mechanical) and so many more!


Networking Opportunities: Forging connections.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the trade show floor and educational sessions, networking events provided attendees with invaluable opportunities to connect with peers, potential partners, and industry experts. From informal coffee chats and roundtable discussions, the conference provided 90+ hours to engage in lively conversations, exchange business cards, and explore potential relationships. These networking opportunities were instrumental in fostering relationships and laying the groundwork for future business ventures.


RFMy Awards: A celebration of success.
The RFMy awards luncheon was a celebration of excellence and a tribute to the hard work and dedication of those who strive for greatness in the restaurant facilities industry. Deserving individuals and organizations were recognized for their outstanding achievements and unwavering commitment to excellence.


2024 Award Winners:
Restaurateur of the Year: Tom Jones, CRFP with Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.
Vendor of the Year: Steve Vollrath from Addilan Group
The Jack McNertney MVP Award: Jeff Dover, Facilities Resource Manager, RFMA


Closing Ceremony: A fond farewell and thank you.
After the final exhibition hours ended, festivities continued into the night with an epic after-party that kept the celebration going with an incredible band, fireworks, and yummy bites and drinks. Attendees mingled, danced, and toasted to a successful RFMA 2024.


As we conclude our journey through RFMA 2024, we are reminded of the power of community, collaboration, and collective learning. A sincere thank you to the entire RFMA team for not missing a single detail and going above and beyond for this industry. Until we meet again (in Vegas)!