The American Supply Association’s Emerging Leaders Division set a new attendance record at its EMERGE2022 Spring Forum held earlier this week at the JW Marriott in New Orleans.

Nearly 170 attendees converged on the Big Easy for two days packed with education and best practices sessions, as well as bountiful networking opportunities.

This year’s EMERGE event also attracted 74 first-time attendees.

“Every year I gain a lot of knowledge and things that I can actually apply back into my business,” said Jordan New of Elkhart, Indiana-based Mid-City Supply. “It’s worth every minute and every dollar.”

This year’s EMERGE program featured an expanded education lineup with topics such as adding technology into a traditionally old-school industry; innovation, technology and the future of supply chain management; straight talk on our industry disruptions and managing your inventory in a time of supply chain crisis.

Attendees also were given an inside look into ASA University’s Master of Distribution Management program with a panel discussion, which featured program graduates Greg Johnson (NB Handy) and Bill Minor (Etna Supply), as well as Central States Group’s Todd Ford, who is involved in the program’s graduation process. An update on the work being done at the ASA D.NEXT innovation lab at the University of Illinois’ Research Park also was given.

A state of the industry panel discussion, moderated by ASA Emerging Leaders Chairman Dan New (Mid-City Supply), featured Liberty Pumps’ Mike Carfagno, Coburn Supply’s Michael Maloney and ProLine BK’s Greg McLaren Jr.

“One of the reasons I enjoyed attending this year’s EMERGE event was to reconnect with industry friends, network with people new to our industry, and watch people battle one another on the arcade games at the social closing event (held at Barcadia in the heart of the New Orleans Central Business District),” said Laura Mustee Hendricks of Cleveland-based manufacturer E.L. Mustee & Sons.

Another huge hit was the return of the popular 90-minute best practices roundtable discussions, which this year, were separated by distributor, manufacturer and manufacturers rep designations.

“This year, I especially valued the roundtable discussions,” Mustee Hendricks said. “Grouping people by association — reps, distributors and manufacturers — allowed us to key in on our similar issues and review best practices for our individual aspect of the supply chain.”

Brian Priest, of Kansas City, Missouri-based distributor Reeves-Wiedeman, added: “It’s a great time with great people learning a lot and sharing best practices. The plumbing supply industry is a great spot to be right now. I am fortunate to be around great people and great minds.”

EMERGE2023 heads to Savannah, Georgia May 10-12, 2023.