There was a great deal of hustle shown during the Embassy Group’s 26th annual spring conference held March 20-24 at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.

At the annual meeting, each Embassy distributor member meets with every Embassy vendor partner during 10-minute tabletop sessions. This tradition ensures both members and vendors have a productive experience during the conference.

“Our vendors devote a great deal of time and resources to participate,” Embassy President Mike Lepley told Supply House Times. “They are required to meet with every one of our members, which is something unique to Embassy.”

Because of the success of the group and the event, Lepley is finding it difficult to ensure everyone gets equal face time during the show. Earlier in the week, Embassy’s HVAC and waterworks division reception and tabletop meetings were held, followed by three days of plumbing events and tabletop meetings.  

“Some Embassy members and vendors will have more than 100 meetings throughout the week,” he said. “It is working out really well, but we are starting to get stretched for time. We want to continue with our Monday through Friday format.”

Lepley reported that 2016 was a record year for Embassy with an 8% overall increase in member purchases. “Plumbing remains our dominate revenue driver,” he stated. “We were a little short of $5.5 billion in revenue of which plumbing makes up about 70%.”

Lepley said if the first quarter is any indication, 2017 will be another banner year. “Members and vendors alike are seeing things improve. This year will be a good year,” he said.

Fishkill, N.Y.-based N&S Supply President and CEO, Wayne Nussbickel, brought his leadership team to the event and left with a better impression of how the market will improve after talking with manufacturers and other members.

“There was overall optimism about the economy that we haven’t seen in a while,” he said. “A lot of folks in the northeast haven’t seen the growth yet in this quarter, but there are a lot of things on the table that make us feel very optimistic.”

N&S Supply has been an Embassy member for 17 years now and Nussbickel continues to relish the opportunity to meet with all the group’s vendor partners. “That opens up a dialogue that you wouldn’t normally have unless it was forced to begin with,” he said. “Suddenly, you develop friendships or relationships that you never would have before.”

Embassy’s Old West Saloon-themed afterhours reception and dinner included blackjack, roulette and craps games. The event hall was packed, allowing members to better get to know one another or continue talking business. “We always strive to provide a good venue for everyone,” Lepley said. “We understand there needs to be some downtime. It’s a lot of work and people are here for the week, but at the end of the day it’s a very productive week. Our vendors are selling more, our member companies are buying more and collectively they all are making more money.”

Embassy’s 2018 Spring Conference is set for March 12-16, at Trump National Doral in Miami.