The Emerging Leaders division was certainly looking forward to offering another successful Spring Forum full of networking, educational content and industry insight this past May in Nashville.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 stacked the chips against us, and our time together fell victim to the pandemic. Having the calendar upended has become a familiar refrain this year, but not being able to get together in person was regrettable nonetheless. That cancellation left our division thinking about how best to try to fill the void, and how to also improve and increase the value that we bring to our members.

In lieu of our physical event we asked Jeff Havens, our keynote speaker, to give a virtual presentation on “Decoding Your Customers,” which had strong registration and was well-received by those who attended. We were happy to be able to still provide that session, but educational content is only one dimension of what our division offers our members. Networking and the exchange of ideas and business experiences is so much of what makes our division so valuable to our broad range of attendees. 

Based on attendee feedback, EMERGE roundtable events are widely regarded as a high point of the annual meeting. Our roundtables are inclusive of all three constituencies: distributor, vendor and manufacturers rep, which allows participants to see issues from the unique point of view of other stakeholders in the supply chain. This helps to broaden the horizon for attendees who don’t have the opportunity for such cross-industry inputs on a regular basis. 

As a solution, the Emerging Leaders Council has elected to extend our best practices roundtable forum to a digital format that will help to keep members and attendees of EL engaged and connected throughout the year. Discussion topics will be suggested but, as is always the case at our roundtables, there will be ample opportunity for the conversation to grow organically, and in any direction participants feel beneficial.

Virtual tables will consist of two co-captains who will help to facilitate the conversation for a group of 8-10 non-competing distributors, vendors and reps. Groups will meet virtually every other month for a year. It is our hope that those conversations develop and form lasting relationships, so that when a difficult business issue should arise, there is always a trusted and familiar resource just a phone call or email away.

The only cost to attend is a membership in the Emerging Leaders division. If you are already a member, then participation is free. If you are not yet a member, the investment to join pays for itself many times over through industry exposure, education and networking. Please reach out directly to Vincenzo Dal Pozzo (vdalpozzo@asa. net), ASA’s Emerging Leaders staff liaison, to get you or any emerging leader in your company registered. The sooner we get individuals signed up, the sooner we can get non-competing tables set and ready to go.

We look forward to kicking off our virtual best practices roundtables in January 2021. This will allow for two virtual meetings prior to getting together, in person, at our rescheduled EMERGE event in Nashville May 18-20, 2021. We are excited to host the forum at the Westin downtown and to have our event generously sponsored by A. O. Smith. We have a strong in-person agenda, including an industry panel discussion led led by Michael Maloney of  Coburn Supply, a tour of A. O. Smith’s manufacturing facility and in-person roundtable events.

Sign up your Emerging Leaders for our virtual best practices roundtables, and mark your calendars to join us in Nashville in May!