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The 2022 FMI Asset Protection Conference

Welcome back? While this may have been the theme for the Food Industry Association’s (FMI) 2022 Asset Protection & Grocery Resilience Conference, it was more like we never left. Asset protection leaders from across the grocery industry and our solution provider partners came together in Orlando March 21-24 to renew the conference experience, learn the latest trends and technologies impacting asset protection, and network with our fellow leadership experts to build new relationships and strengthen longstanding bonds.

The event was well-orchestrated and filled with informative sessions on topics most relevant to today’s retail asset protection environment, reviewing mission-critical subjects in a robust and welcoming setting. There was a strong mix of speakers and peer sessions that included panels and round tables which gave participants the opportunity to both absorb new information and to learn from each other.

In addition to the educational sessions, the conference also featured very productive vendor-retailer business-to-business meeting sessions that allowed retail leaders to hold individual meetings with top asset protection solution providers and learn about the latest tools, trends, and technologies that support asset protection efforts across the grocery environment. Sessions were available each afternoon to give attendees full access to the products and subject matter experts to support their businesses.

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Here’s a closer look at the week’s events:

Day One

Following opening remarks, day one of the conference began with Keynote Speaker Amanda Ripley discussing “Building a Culture of Good Conflict” where questions are asked, honest disagreement is encouraged, and everyone behaves with a baseline level of decency and curiosity.

This was followed by a session on “Organized Retail Crime – Tools and Tactics for Stepping Up Our Game” with Lieutenant Jim Ostojic of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Ostojic reviewed new approaches, tools, and tactics for addressing ORC, and the importance of getting more involved in public-private partnerships.

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Following the lunch break, the afternoon began with breakout sessions on the “Top 5 Cybersecurity Threats Facing Grocers in 2022 and Beyond” with an overview of the latest cybersecurity threats that food retailers need to be aware of and prepared for as they consider cybersecurity as part of their overall asset protection program; and “Securing Parking Lots and Curbside in the Omni Era,” a discussion around the critical factors affecting curbside safety and security along with strategies and solutions for securing parking lots and curbside delivery.

Day one sessions ended with a discussion on findings from FMI’s new benchmarking report, “Asset Protection – The State of the Industry.” This report provides insight into the current state of asset protection in food retail, along with key issues and strategies food retailers are most focused on, from natural disasters and active shooters to shoplifting and civil unrest.

Day Two

Day two began with a keynote presentation from Dale Reeves on how to “Inspire People to Greatness.” Reeves discussed setting the foundation for open communication in your life, with your family, and with your company, along with methods for making meaningful connections with others both in high-conflict conversations as well as in everyday communication.

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This was followed by a panel discussion with Joe Conway of ACME Markets, Joe Laufenberg of Festival Foods, Dawn Roller of Brown’s Superstores, and Derrick Price of Wakefern as they reviewed “Civil Unrest – Strategizing a New Approach to Response, Recovery, and Mitigation.” Fueled by the pandemic, politics, and protests over racial injustice, civil unrest impacted businesses through property damage and lost inventory, but also reputational harm and lost economic activity. The panel discussed how retailers can mitigate the impact of future civil unrest, and shared lessons learned from their own recent experiences. This was followed by a discussion on new approaches to assessing, responding to, and recovering from civil unrest, and mitigating its economic impact.

Next up was an informative session on “Understanding and Responding to Mental Illness” with the Wisconsin state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to their research, one in five people live with a mental illness, which includes customers, coworkers, family members, and friends. Stacey Mohr-Johannsen and Mary Kay Battaglia with NAMI Wisconsin provided an overview on the basics of mental illness and guidance on how to respond with empathy and understanding to people experiencing a mental illness.

Day two breakout sessions included, “The Show Must Go On: Strategies for Workforce Stability Amid the Great Resignation and Great Retirement” with an interactive discussion on recruitment and retention strategies needed to win the looming talent war and the key role that succession planning, and “A Time Traveler’s Guide to Career Success in Asset Protection” with a panel of seasoned asset protection leaders reflecting on the hits and misses along their career journey.

The final session of day two reviewed “Beyond Run, Hide, Fight – Best Practices for Preparing for and Responding to Workplace Violence.” Aubree Martin, Vice President of human resources and administration at the software company Paradigm, shared her firsthand experience when an employee in good standing opened fire on his co-workers, seriously injuring multiple employees. Martin revealed lessons learned from that day and her perspective on navigating an organization through an active shooter incident.

Day Three

Day three began with a presentation on “The Power of Preparedness,” a discussion with William Flynn, retired NYPD and former deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Homeland Security. Flynn discussed the changing risk landscape and used case studies to demonstrate how grocers can manage risk and enhance employee preparedness in the event of an active shooter incident.

The final keynote session of the conference focused on “Promoting an Evidence-Based Culture in the Workplace.” Dr. John Petrocelli discussed how our current way of thinking and communicating in the workplace often ignores the critical benefits of evidence-based communication as detailed in his new book, “The Life-Changing Science of Detecting BS.”

The FMI Asset Protection Rising Star Award

The FMI Asset Protection Rising Star is an up-and-comer that has demonstrated through their words, actions, and behaviors that they are going places as a role model for others. They are a leader in their company, and a positive, insightful, and exemplary representative of the loss prevention industry both now and moving forward. They are making a positive impact in the lives of others and leading by example, whether through successful times, times of change, or times of adversity. This year’s Rising Star recipient is John-Paul Frattone, director of asset protection at The Giant Company. Congratulations JP!

And congratulations to the entire team at FMI for hosting an extremely valuable and productive conference. Attendees were excited by the new information they took with them, as well as the prospects for another successful event in 2023!

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