The AIM/R board of directors and 2024 Conference Committee are excited to welcome our fellow manufacturer representatives and manufacturer partners to the hometown of our 52nd Annual Conference. Our 2024 Confernence Chair is Jon Wiggs, CPMR, CPSC, and president of Wiggs-Haun & Bohan. Headquartered in the great state of Tennessee, Wiggs’s agency covers a large market including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida Panhandle, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jon to learn about him, his career and about what we will experience during this year’s conference.

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Jon Wiggs, CPMR, CPSC Images courtesy of AIM/

Wiggs is a second-generation manufacturer’s representative. Wigg-Haun & Bohan was founded by his father, Larry Wiggs, and Bill McMath in the early 1970s. He grew up in the industry, starting from a young age when he was involved with assembling catalogs, moving on to assisting with food preparation for counter days, which then led to diving deeper into his father’s agency by assisting with inventory. After graduating high school, Wiggs went on to college and envisioned a different career path for himself. However, he found himself drawn back into the agency one day after graduating from the University of Tennessee and he has never looked back. Wiggs is also a 2016 graduate from the University of Texas’ CPMR program (Certified Professional Manufacturers Representative).

Wiggs’s history in our industry is extremely rich. As a young boy, he remembers driving with his dad listening to industry content on tapes that were produced by another industry association. Back then, members of this association were able to purchase various cassettes full of content on best-selling practices. Fast forward a few years and Wiggs was able to attend the AIM/R Annual Conference for the first time in 2014 at Lake Tahoe and glean some of these best practices firsthand. At the first-timer’s reception, he met Bill Horsman with Dellon Sales Co.

“Our friendship has endured, and I still engage in conversations with Bill to this day,” says Wiggs. “Through AIM/R, I’ve forged numerous friendships that I hold dear. This network of connections stands out as one of AIM/R’s most valuable offerings. In an industry where not everyone comprehends the role of a representative or the intricacies of our daily activities, the chance to convene with over 500 friends — discussing and learning from one another — proves to be an irreplaceable experience.”

Wiggs has served on the AIM/R board of directors for many years and is now serving on the Executive Committee. The time commitment is worth every minute, as Wiggs said, “I truly believe, what you put in, you get out tenfold.”

There may be a misconception that the AIM/R Conference is primarily for seasoned veterans. That couldn’t be further from the truth. AIM/R is a great place to make industry connections starting early in one’s career. Per Wiggs’s testament above, he was able to connect with others that were like him, a younger person looking to forge his path in one of the greatest industries. One of the subgroups in AIM/R – LOT/T (Leaders of Tomorrow…Today) — offers the up-and-coming generation a spot to connect and thrive. Wiggs points his involvement on the board of directors back to helping all AIM/R members find their place, regardless of age or time in the industry.

Deciding on the city to host AIM/R’s Annual Conference is one of the biggest decisions the conference chair must make. Wiggs said he feels like he didn’t necessarily choose Nashville, but Nashville chose him — in a good way, he adds. Each conference chair must ask themselves the following questions: Where have we been? Where have we not been? Where can we fit in? Nashville is an easy airport to get to, ground transportation is easy and it’s a location our conference hasn’t been before. Wiggs started planning his conference during COVID, which was its own challenge trying to work with hotel properties given the uncertainty for events at that time. When the Renaissance hotel Nashville engaged with AIM/R on the booking, Wiggs hopped in his car that day and tied-up the venue for our 2024 conference. That is dedication to making the 2024 Annual Conference one for the record books.

I asked Wiggs what he is most excited about for this year’s conference in Nashville. He eloquently expressed his viewpoint stating, “I’m eagerly anticipating the opportunity to reunite with everyone at the upcoming conference. Nashville, with its myriad of attractions, is a fantastic setting to host over 500 of our friends and families. While the city has much to offer, it also needs to prepare for the influx of industry luminaries who will be joining us. Throughout the conference, we will be delivering compelling content and addressing pertinent issues facing our industry. However, above all, the emphasis remains on the development and nurturing of relationships. Engaging in meaningful discussions and networking is paramount. My vision for Nashville 2024 is to consider it a success if each attendee can leave having cultivated at least five new relationships. These connections have the potential to foster a lifetime of learning and collaboration, surpassing the value of any single conference session.”

Nashville is a great city to foster these opportunities. We will be staying at a great hotel, right in the heart of downtown, just off Broadway. Attendees will get to take in the culture and the vibe of Nashville while attending our association’s highlight event of the year. Nashville hasn’t always been on the map. The city started to gain attention about 10 years ago. The music and food scene combined offers something for all appetites to enjoy. Everything is within walking distance from our hotel, with over 70 restaurants and 90 bars to choose from. Jon encourages everyone to take the opportunity to stop, slow down and take in all that Nashville has to offer, all while enjoying the experience with our friends, colleges and manufacturers. The enthusiasm Wiggs expressed in sharing his city with the best in our industry cannot go unnoticed.

At the heart of everything Wiggs shared is people. He encourages everyone to push for networking. “We can always come together, and we can always listen to the speakers, we can always tap into a session, but we hardly get the one-on-one networking time.”

I will leave you with Wiggs’s parting words that bring excitement as we look forward to gathering from Sept. 17-20: “We’re thrilled about the array of exciting events planned for the conference. To ensure you don’t miss out, we encourage you to book your reservations early, as space is limited for this year’s event. We can’t wait to gather with everyone in Nashville for what promises to be an unforgettable experience. Let’s make Nashville 2024 not just an event filled with great content, but a memorable gathering where the growth of meaningful relationships takes center stage.”