This year’s AIM/R Conference theme was Cultivating Your Success. Chairman Mike Mullen of A.H. Deveney & Co. and AIM/R Executive Director Stacey Woldt welcomed more than 500 attendees, reps and manufacturers at the Meritage Resort & Spa, September 12-15.

“Being in Napa during harvest time sparked the idea of tying the growing process into our conference,” Mullen said. “That’s how we came up with Cultivating Your Success. We need to think like the winemakers who are constantly very hands on in tending to their vines, because none of us can have a successful harvest if we don’t carefully cultivate what we’re trying to grow.”

“Reps and manufacturers are able to constructively exchange ideas on ways to strengthen their bonds and work together even more productively and effectively. Having the opportunity to network with each other, outside of a typical business setting, has also been very effective in building those relationships,” added Mullen.


Highlights from the conference

Robb Best of Elkay kicked things off with a session that defined “The WHY of Sales.” He shared time management suggestions designed to increase daily productivity and improve focus. He also laid out the four emotional reasons why we buy things — because it makes us feel better, makes us think we’re cooler, makes us believe our lives will be easier with it, and makes us feel safer. “If you talk to the amygdala and reach someone through their feelings, you’ll be successful 98% of the time,” said Best.

A presentation on economic outlooks by Gene Marks of The Marks Group covered key drivers/factors to watch for, and using common sense, everyday logic and situations to illustrate his points. He shared some important advice about:

  • interest rates (they’re going be to doubling so lock financing down soon and encourage your business partners to do the same), h
  • health care costs (look at ways to control rising costs through HSAs, level funded plans and association plans),
  • taxes (most of us don’t know all the ways we can save so it’s very important to have a good tax advisor); and
  • invest in business software (using solutions for CRM, HR and security can help save bottom line costs).

He also identified the Baltic Drive Index as a little-known indicator for economic forecasters. That index is the measurement of freight being shipped across the Baltic Sea, which is the most-traversed shipping route, and whether its numbers are trending upward or downward is something many economists look to in determining when/if a recession — or boom — is coming.

Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky talked about how a business’ success is directly related to outstanding financial performance and organizational culture. Business leaders must take responsibility to develop and build a unified corporate culture and ensure that smaller groups/teams working on tasks stay aligned with the overall culture. He noted that if the context is changed, it can then change the culture/behavior and people will adapt to it.

“Culture is very much like a garden,” said Grodnitzky. “You can’t just plant it and leave it on its own. Culture demands some type of water and fertilizer. We get the culture that we sow, cultivate and deserve.”


Awards and Recognition

The following winners were recognized at the conference’s first-ever Lunch & Awards Program.

  • AIM/R Golden Eagle Award — Jim Margoni long-time executive with A. O. Smith Water Heaters
  • AIM/R Hall of Fame Inductees — Tom Tiernan of Tom Tiernan & Associates and Gregg Marshall from J.N. Marshall Inc.
  • Wholesaler Recognition — Don Maloney from Coburn Supply Co. and Eddie Gibbs of WinSupply, who each shared an inside look at their businesses with members.
  • Special Lifetime Achievement Award —Nick Giuffre, recently retired CEO of Bradford White.

Save the date for September 11-14 to join AIM/R at the 47th Annual Conference at the Disney Swan Hotel in Orlando, Florida.