Smoke Jumpers XVIII

If you're interested in joining us, reach out

Smoke Jumpers is a share-group comprised of senior retail and foodservice personnel from top CPG companies.



Wednesday May 8

Welcome Reception

  • Altitude Room, 33rd floor, W Chicago Lakeshore from 6p – 9p
  • Food and drink provided
Thursday May 9

Meetings & Networking

  • Meetings and meals will be held on the 6th floor, W Chicago Lakeshore
  • Post-meeting networking event from 6p – 9p at Pinstripes
Friday May 10

Customer Appreciation

  • The Cubs take on the Brewers at 1:20p
  • Must register in advance and present your photo ID

May 8 / Wednesday / Welcome

May 9 / Thursday / Conference

May 10 / Friday / Cubs Game

6:00 pm -

9:00 pm

Welcome Reception

Join us as we kick off the conference at the W Chicago Lakeshore on Wednesday evening. We’ll be taking up residence in the stunning Altitude Room on the 33rd floor. Come get to know all the new faces joining us for this year’s session. Food and drink will be provided.

7:30 am -

8:30 am


Breakfast will be served before the meeting on the 6th floor of the W Chicago Lakeshore, room: Industry I & II, 6th floor.

8:30 am -

4:15 pm

Strategic Conference

We will kick off with a general session and keynote speaker, Jack Li (Datassential), on the 6th floor in Great Room I & II. Following lunch, we will split up for retail and foodservice-specific breakout sessions featuring speakers:

Retail: Mike Bruening, GENPACT / Mike Druga, Butterball / Jason Berton & John Weller, Blacksmith Applications

Foodservice: Julie Michel, Rich Products / Tina Wefer and Jerry Wilhite, FSICI / The Trade Management team from Simplot / The Blacksmith Applications Advanced Analytics Council

Presentation Topics

  1. Keynote: Trends impacting the food and beverage industry and how your business can predict the next big thing with the right data.
  2. Retail: Artificial intelligence and machine learning – past, present & future in the CPG retail channel. How manufacturers are making the most of evolving technology.
  3. Foodservice: How Rich Products upgraded systems to improve their deductions cloud. Learn what it takes to automate research and resolution of trade and non-trade deductions with FORGE and High Radius.
  4. Additional topics include distributor updates, foodservice redistribution panel discussion, Butterball’s perspective on retail trends, driving industry change after the Gregory Packaging court decision, hot topics from the Blacksmith Analytics Council and case studies from new and tenured Blacksmith (and T-Pro) customers.

4:15 pm -

5:00 pm

Awards Ceremony

Honor your peers at the annual Blacksmith Trade Excellence awards ceremony which celebrates exceptional trade management and optimization practices.

MC: Paul Wietecha

6:00 pm -

9:00 pm

Networking Dinner

Head on over to Pinstripes for a round of bocce, a glass of wine on the patio and some all around good fun.

Location: 435 East Illinois Street Chicago 60611

1:20 pm -

Cubs Rooftop Event

Our annual customer appreciation event is taking place on Friday May 10th at the Wrigley Rooftops. When the Cubs take on the Brewers we’ll be perched at 3639 N Sheffield rooting them on.  

Feel free to join us for this event even if you’re unable to attend the strategic conference. Your peers and coworkers are also welcome at the ballgame.

You must register in advance through the event registration link and be sure to have your photo ID with you for admission on game day.

#SJXVIII2019 Keynote Speaker

Jacki Li, Datassential

Jack Li is one of the most sought-after trends and data experts in the food and beverage industry. He’s pioneered the use of menu data to predict flavor trends, which impact both foodservice and retail markets.

Over the past decade, Jack has led more than 500 food and beverage studies while keeping a pulse on the most emerging trends. Jack also leads the development of premier industry data and database tools in his role at Datassential.

Join us at Smoke Jumpers XVIII to hear Jack speak about the latest trends impacting our industry and how your business can predict the next big thing with the right data.

Event Details

A Few Things You Should Know


  • You don’t have to be a Blacksmith Applications customer to attend (click here to see who attended last May’s meeting)
  • You must register before Friday April 12
  • During the meetings, we think strategically about what’s happening in the industry and have discussions around problems and solutions
  • Book your room at the W Chicago Lakeshore ($179/night) by Monday April 15

Event Album

Smoke Jumpers XVII 2018

View photos from our strategic meeting hosted last May. #SJXVII2018

Join the Smoke Jumpers Community

Attend | Present | Contribute

There are many ways to get involved in the Smoke Jumpers community. If you’re interested in:

  • Attending an event
  • Subscribing to our magazine
  • Writing an article
  • Being the subject of an interview
  • Advertising
  • Presenting at the strategic conference

Complete this form and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Past Attendees Include Senior Personnel From:

Exclusive Smoke Jumpers Content

Explore our Smoke Jumpers resource center for access to meeting materials, our share-group member list, and strategic presentations from past events.

Smoke Jumpers Magazine

Don’t miss out on Blacksmith Applications quarterly trade and tech magazine. Stay ahead of industry trends, learn from the experts and keep up with best practices.