The American Supply Association’s Women in Industry Division continues to reach new heights.

The group held its ELEVATE2019 conference recently at The Omni in San Diego, California, where more than 200 attendees, including 91 first-time attendees, gathered for two days of educational and networking opportunities.

At the group’s kickoff dinner on the first evening, divisional co-founder Ashley Martin, vice president of sales at NIBCO, was honored for her service to the group, and also is the first recipient of the group’s Alice A. Martin Woman of the Year Award, named after her late mother.

“Obviously, Alice meant a lot to me and that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to win this award because this would be hard,” an emotional Martin said in accepting the award at the conference. “She was my mom, my advisor and my mentor. I want to say thank-you to all of you because when she passed away, all of you stepped up in multiple ways for not only myself but for NIBCO. For that, this is dedicated to all of you.”

First Supply’s Katie Poehling-Seymour, who co-founded the group with Martin, sent in a congratulations video. Poehling-Seymour was unable to attend the conference ahead of the impending birth of her first child.

The next morning, attendees heard from speaker Samantha Ettus, whose “Pie Life: A groundbreaking approach to work/life fulfillment” presentation and workshop were well-received.

Ettus’ talk was filled with advice/anecdotes aimed at finding the proper work-life balance, including a study that showed a person’s heartrate was the same when they were participating in a hobby as it was when they exercised.

She listed key parts of one’s life as being family, health, hobbies, relationships, career, community and friends, and the importance of dedicating time to those outside the workplace. “The average person shed half of their friends every six years,” Ettus said.

Ettus suggested something as simple as trying to keep errands within what she calls the golden triangle of home, the children’s school and the office.

She also strongly suggested to “never compare your life to another person’s highlight reel,” she said. “Everybody has their struggles.”

In terms of striking that work-life balance Ettus’ advice is simple. “It’s up to each of us to determine what our non-negotiables are,” she said.

The work-life balance theme continued at lunchtime with a presentation by Colonel Stacy Huser. “It’s easy to get pulled off course,” she said, “but each of us must ruthlessly pursue the type of life we want to live. That’s what unconventional success looks like.”

Women in Industry attendees also took part in a bevy of best practices roundtables, including topics such as starting a women’s group at an organization (led by Martin), the importance of internships (led by Texas A&M’s Emily Joseph), workplace culture (led by Kala McDonald of The Collins Companies) and succession planning (led by Coburn Supply’s Christy Maloney).

Next year’s Women in Industry ELEVATE conference heads to Charleston, South Carolina.