By Jason Vaughan, Communications Manager
On Sunday, October 3, 2021, members of the Equipment Service Association gathered in Sandestin, Florida for its inaugural Industry Summit. ESA members were eager to again meet face-to-face at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort to reconnect — many for the first time — since the last in-person conference in May 2019. The 20 ESA members joined colleagues from the FPDA: Motion Control Solutions Network and the International Sealing Distribution Association.
“When it comes to networking in this industry, being across a table or side-by-side at a reception can’t compare with a Zoom call,” said ESA Executive Director Courtney Truelove. “The Industry Summit is purposefully designed to help distributors and manufacturers build new relationships and strengthen existing ties.”
The first day of the summit focused on networking, with a welcome reception followed by a social event specifically for young executives of the three associations. On Monday morning the program kicked into high gear with an opening keynote by marketing guru Gerry O’Brion. O’Brion, whose resume boasts marketing positions with Proctor & Gamble, Quiznos, and Coors Brewing, shared his framework of influence designed to help companies stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The summit’s first IndustrySpeak session followed the opening keynote. These sessions, loosely based on TED Talks, encourage interaction and the sharing of information. Moderator John Norton led the discussion on warehouse automation and practical methods of applying today’s technologies to distribution facilities.
After lunch ESA members gathered for the Annual Meeting of Members, during which membership and education were the main topics for discussion. Members brainstormed ideas for a campaign to increase membership numbers and ways to revise the association’s website to increase traffic. They decided to continue the Lunch and Learn webinar program in 2022 and started looking at options for locations for the 2022 Spring Tech Event. ESA members also thanked Rick Lindemann for his service as ESA president and welcomed Chris Johnson as ESA’s new president.
The first day of the summit concluded with the ever-popular Supplier Showcase and Reception. Twenty exhibitors displayed products and the latest innovations in the motion control, equipment service, and sealing industries.
On Tuesday morning after breakfast, Lauren Saidel-Baker of ITR Economics delivered the summit’s economic keynote. She explored the opportunities and risks ahead and shared business responses, tactics, and strategies given projected changes in the economy.
The final two IndustrySpeak sessions followed Saidel-Baker’s presentation. In the IndustrySpeak B session, Interlynx founder Larry White revealed industry insights on the latest software and technology empowering distributors to generate increased sales. Industry Summit emcee Bill Haley moderated a distributor panel in the IndustrySpeak C session. The topic was employee hiring and retention in a post-Covid-19 world with a panel including Brian DeSpain (ISD, Global O-Ring and Seal), Tom Nicholson (FPDA, GS Global Services), and Chris Johnson (ESA, Johnson Hydraulic Sales).
While the weather did not cooperate for the golfers Tuesday afternoon nor the evening’s beach-bound revelers, the freedom in the schedule did allow for continued networking and reconnecting with clients. Of course, the show must go on: the evening’s closing beach bonfire party was quickly accommodated at the hotel’s pool bar (sans fire).
The weather still refused to behave on Wednesday morning for the Beat the Sun Run in support of local charity Lotus Learning and Arts Center, which also robbed the runners the opportunity to show off this year’s groovy commemorative tank tops.
The summit closed on Wednesday morning with a final keynote on business ethics by Andy Fastow. No topic was off the table for the former chief financial officer of Enron Corporation, who served a six-year federal sentence for securities fraud.
A post-summit survey found 67 percent of summit attendees felt the event exceeded or highly exceeded expectations. Among the comments from the survey: “The valuable messages from the keynotes will help me transition from the daily grind to working strategically on the business,” “The Industry Summit does an outstanding job of providing attendees with meaningful learning opportunities in addition to networking with peers,” and “Informative, fun, and definitely relationship-building for current and new business contacts.”
After a long hiatus, the Industry Summit showed the effectiveness and efficiency of ESA members gathering to discuss industry concerns, meet potential customers, and forge deeper relations with existing clients. The success of the summit was due, in no small part, to the many generous sponsors across the memberships of ESA, FPDA, and ISD.
The 2021 Industry Summit organizers thank Silver Level sponsors Norcan Fluid Power and Parker Hannifin, Young Executive workshop sponsor FORCE America, Supplier Showcase reception sponsor Connector Specialists, Beat the Sun Run sponsor Master Packing & Rubber Company, meeting app sponsor Womack Machine Supply Company, breakfast sponsors IC-Fluid Power and KLINGER Thermoseal, and NOSHOK, Interlynx Systems, Connector Specialists, and Tribute for sponsoring tote bags, koozies, pens, and hotel key cards. Additional thanks go to the Industry Summit media partners Design World and Fluid Power World.
The 2022 Industry Summit is scheduled to take place at the Westin Snowmass Resort in Colorado on October 2-5.