BLUE HAWK members, vendor partners, and alliance, and solution partners gathered in Austin, Texas, for the 2023 BLUE HAWK Annual Conference in early May. The three-day conference featured a co-op update, valuable face-to-face meetings, breakout workshops, and networking opportunities.
During the annual meeting, three members, Bryan Abraham, Transtar A/C Supply Inc., Mike Gallagher, Rheem Air Distribution, and Lauren Roberts, cfm Distributors, were elected to serve three-year terms on the 2023 BLUE HAWK Board of Directors. Roberts will also serve as the new board chairperson, and board member Seth Gordon of Glacier Supply Group will serve as treasurer.
BLUE HAWK scheduled more than 5,200 face-to-face meetings between members and vendor partners during the conference.
"The face-to-face meetings are so valuable to us as members," said incoming board chairperson Lauren Roberts. "They provide the perfect opportunity for us to either start or continue conversations with many Vendor Partners in one place. It would take months to do outside this format."
During the awards ceremony that honored outstanding members and partners, BLUE HAWK recognized vendor partners of the year: Bosch Thermotechnology Group (Tier 1), Shurtape Technologies, LLC (Tier 2), and Dundas Jafine (Tier 3). The group also celebrated the outstanding career of former senior vice president of operations, Colleen Leppert, as she enters retirement. "Colleen was the cooperative's first employee and has been a crucial part of its success from day one," says BLUE HAWK CEO Lance Rantala. "We will miss her leadership but wish her well as she enjoys this next chapter with her family."
Additional activities during the conference included the co-op's annual Gives Back event and the "Rock The HAWK" Battle of the Bands. The BLUE HAWK Gives Back project included about 50 co-op members, partners, and staff who volunteered their time and hard work at one of the LifeWorks Austin facilities. Lifeworks' mission is to end youth homelessness in Austin. They break the cycle of instability by providing the support and services youth experiencing homelessness need to thrive. Our volunteers cleared and re-mulched three play areas at the Lifeworks East location to give clients a safe place for their young children to play and feel secure.
Richard Williams, Lifeworks director of facilities and maintenance, was blown away by how much our Gives Back participants accomplished in such a short period.
"I didn't think you would get close to finishing this project," Williams said. "Your volunteers were one of the best groups we've ever had, and we appreciate all the help." In addition to the planned playground facelift, Dante Poles of Economy Plumbing & Heating Supply also repaired their broken Bobcat Compact Track Loader.
When the work is done, BLUE HAWK knows how to have some fun — and Rock the HAWK did not disappoint. Seven bands of BLUE HAWK members, vendor partners, and alliance and solution partners absolutely rocked the stage at The Belmont Austin to compete in the 2023 Battle of the Bands. Chosen by crowd cheers, the grand prize winners, The Bender Blues Buddies, took home a cash prize of $1,000, and the second-place team, Super Heat, received $500.
"Rock the HAWK was a perfect way for co-op members and partners to get to know and support each other on a different level," said Teri Ditsch, vice president of communications and marketing. "While the evening itself was a hit, I also enjoyed seeing those new connections carry over into business conversations the next day."