NAHAD Logs Record Attendance at 2012 Convention in Las Vegas
Convening in the largest convention hotel (the Venetian|Palazzo) in NAHAD’s history of annual conventions, NAHAD also broke a record for highest attendance in its 28 year history. Final attendance figures, including registrations on-site, totaled 1,006 NAHAD attendees. The previous high-water mark for NAHAD conventions was 917 attendees at the 2007 convention in Victoria, BC Canada.
Although the location and the attendance was “super-sized”, many of the traditional features of a NAHAD convention remained in place. Attendees enjoyed the Opening Reception surrounding the Palazzo main pool. The weather was beautiful and the setting, enveloped by the bright light of Las Vegas hotels made it a night to remember. NAHAD attendees always enjoy the opportunity to catch up with friends and business partners in this relaxed format, before the hustle and bustle of the convention takes over.
The Convention kicked-off the next morning with a “Grab and Go” breakfast so that participants could enjoy the highly-regarded NAHAD Speed Networking program. With more participants in 2012, the program expanded to four meeting rooms, each of which provided attendees with rapid-fire one-on-one introductions. A traditional Convention Opening followed with welcoming remarks from NAHAD President Tim O’Shaughnessy and members of the UNLV marching band to provide a high energy start.
Business content for the morning was provided by presenters, Jaynie Smith, Relevant Selling – Competitive Advantage and Dr. Bill McCleave, Where Managers Blunder – Avoid Traps for Superior Performance.
Continuing a NAHAD tradition initiated in 2007, the George W. Carver Award for Outstanding Commitment to Industry Excellence was presented to NAHAD Supplier member, Keith Collett of Goodyear Engineered Products/Veyance Technologies. Keith recently retired from the company, but his reputation and mentorship of emerging industry leaders made him an outstanding choice for the award
After the morning program concluded, 95 members and spouses head off to participate in tours and activities; but many of the attendees took advantage of the occasion of staying in an all-suites hotel to hold private meetings with their trading partners. Spotted in the hallway during the late afternoon, distributor member Ron Rae of Hose Supplies New Zealand reported that this opportunity allowed him to meet with several trading partners, enhancing the long trip from New Zealand that he had to make to attend the convention.
Another popular main-stay of the NAHAD annual meetings is the evening of Manufacturer and Associate Hospitality entertainment. With a wide diversity of food, beverage and entertainment, there was a Las Vegas flair to a wonderful evening of focused networking.
The second day featured the very popular concurrent UID-in-a-Day sessions, providing six different business sessions offered by three faculty members from NAHAD’s University of Industrial Distribution. NAHAD staff members, dressed in referee shirts, led the group for a mid-day break to Lagasse Stadium, a sports bar, featuring the outstanding cuisine of Emeril Lagasse. This break from tradition was very well received and a culinary highlight for many of those in attendance, as the stadium staff replenished the buffet several times for hungry guests.
Experimenting with another traditional element of the convention, the NAHAD Board and staff introduced an augmented Contact Table program. As the trade show portion of the program has grown over the past few years, both in complexity and length, it has required more time on the part of visitors to the manufacturer, associate and affiliate booths just to be able to complete a full circuit of the show floor. A new name “Showcase of Hose Solutions” was introduced in 2010 along with additional time, up to 6 hours; however, both exhibitors and distributors noticed that foot traffic, spirits and attendance started to flag in the hours following the lunch hour. This year, the program started with a two-hour Grand Opening on Friday evening. Everyone in attendance was offered beer, wine or soft drinks, as well as passed hors d’oeuvres during the festive opening of the Showcase. At the conclusion of the enjoyable two-hours, NAHAD members joined others for dinner or went to one of the spectacular Las Vegas shows. The Showcase continued for the entire morning on Saturday, with a packed exhibit hall for the full four hours.
Before departing Las Vegas, members enjoyed a closing luncheon and key note speaker, Scott Tibbitts. Immediately after the conclusion of the convention, the NAHAD staff and Board kicked the planning process for 2013’s convention into high gear. The first step will be to gather feedback on this year’s format and changes, as plans come together for April 20-24, 2013 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on the Potomac in the environs of Washington, DC. Members input will provide the framework for the preliminary schedule which will be available in mid-July.
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