In the manufacturers’ representative community, one of the largest events each year is our Association of Independent Manufacturers Representatives Annual Conference. This year, Katie Hubach, CPA of Signature Sales, and her conference team were tasked with creating a three-day conference full of education, networking and celebration with the theme of “Mission Celebrate,” an ode to classic Bond films.
This year’s milestone event was the 50th Annual Conference, and the location returned to the state of AIM/R’s first annual conference in 1973, which was held in Vail, Colo.
Colorado could have been chosen for many reasons, but as we look back at this year’s conference, Colorado felt just right. As you look around the Denver metropolitan area, you can easily tell one of the biggest strengths is its growth and diversification over the past several years. While returning to the birthplace for our annual conference, we were able to see how much Colorado and our association have grown over the past 50 years.
“It was so exciting for our rep community to return to Colorado for this Golden Anniversary conference,” Hubach says. “Many reps shared their immediate feedback with us, and we are happy to share that more than 99 percent of our attendees found our conference to be worth both their time and money, and 84 percent of our attendees had tangible takeaways that they will implement in their businesses when they return.”
The conference kicked off Oct. 12, with the AIM/R board of directors gathering for its annual pre-conference meeting, where new and old faces came together. This year, AIM/R welcomed Justin Pfeifer, CPMR, Southwest Sales; Jon Thomas, CPMR, N.H. Yates; Troy Joyce, CPMR, The Joyce Agency; and Dean Parker, CPMR, Michel Sales Agency, as its newest board members. Beau Jolly, Tipton Co., has joined as the new Leaders of Tomorrow/Today (LOT/T) representative.
Pete Mayer, CPMR, Bongard Corp.; Charlie Parham, CPMR, Pepco Sales & Marketing; and Jessica Kolaitis, CPMR, Tim Morales Sales & Associates rolled off the board and were recognized for their contributions and achievements to the association. The LOT/T portion of the conference agenda started with a local field trip to TM Sales, a Denver rep agency.
“It’s always a win for our membership whenever another rep agency is willing to open its doors to our membership and share best practices with colleagues,” Kolaitis, outgoing LOT/T board member, notes. “The TM Sales facilities showcased many of the business practices featured at AIM/R through the years, and I think it was beneficial for our LOT/T group to see this in action.”
Getting Down to Business
We commenced the main conference agenda Oct. 13 with Hubach’s opening remarks and keynote speaker Blake Williams from Battle Tested Coaching. Williams presented inspirational content from his book “Giant Killer: Winning the Battles that Matter Most.”
Rep-led roundtables were then hosted in three separate 45-minute time blocks with topics that included: Technology to assist rep agencies by Jon Wiggs, CPMR, CSP, Wiggs Haun & Bohan; using social media and add-on services to build your agency with Todd Joyce, CPMR, and Troy Joyce, CPMR, The Joyce Agency; and how to track customer quotes successfully by Gregory Aranoff, Platsky Co.
After reports from the Executive Committee and the state of the association, we resumed with concurrent sessions, featuring Daniel Beederman of law firm SFBBG reviewing rock solid contracts; Michael Henderson, CPMR, P-M Associates, and Joe Herkowski, HSA Rep, discussing a balanced and synergistic line card; and Jeff Blair and David Blair, Barclay Sales Ltd., providing an in-depth look into running a complex and futuristic inside sales team.
Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, provided an in-depth assessment Oct. 14 of ITR’s current and future economic outlook, with a detailed analysis through 2030. Reps looking for insight into what manufacturers really are striving to achieve when working with and interviewing reps heard loud and clear best practices from Jim DelRe, Morris Group International; Bill Madison, Sloan; Chris Nicosia, Delco Sales; and Andy Thiel and Nicholas Mathiowdis, Milwaukee Tool.
Time to Party!
After all the key content was delivered, it was time for the Mission Celebrate Gala. This was a unique event for an AIM/R Annual Conference and our first-ever gala. Hubach and her conference team spent hours planning and pulling out all the stops; the event was a resounding success.
In addition to the formal celebration, the two most prestigious AIM/R awards were saved for the gala. The late Bill Freeman, CEO of Spirit Group, was inducted into the AIM/R Hall of Fame, and Steve Woodford, president of WCM Industries, was presented with the AIM/R Golden Eagle Award.
After dinner and awards, both manufacturers and manufacturers’ representatives dressed to impress, played casino games and enjoyed a great time networking throughout the night.
While Colorado brought AIM/R back to its roots, AIM/R’s gala was truly glowing. Through reflection, bright lights, networking and ideas shared, the week was truly absorbed by all who attended.
Michelle Lewnes-Dadas, CPMR, announced the date and location of the AIM/R 51st Annual Conference: Sept. 12-15, 2023, at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Fla. The location truly kicks off where Colorado finished with a neon glow, and those attending next year can look forward to a “Future So Bright.”
Jon Wiggs, CPMR, CSP, is president of Wiggs-Haun & Bohan. He started with the independent sales agency after graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2005. Wiggs serves on the board of directors for AIM/R. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Jeff Blair is the president of Barclay Sales Ltd. and Barclay Sales Alberta. He has been with the company since 1985 and has been president since 2008.