NAED’s Western Regional Conference Highlights Strengths In The Industry

The 2015 NAED Western Regional Conference provided the perfect opportunity to learn more about where the industry is headed and to conduct business during the two and a half day event.

Hosted at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, which is located just a few steps from the bay and a number of downtown districts. Additionally, the weather for all three days was in the 70’s with a light breeze.

The opening session included three speakers: NAED Chairwoman Maureen Barsema, Western Region Vice-President Jeff Stroin, and keynote speaker J.B. Bernstein, who is the sports agent behind the Disney movie “Million Dollar Arm”.

Maureen Barsema kicked off the opening session with a recap on her agenda for her term as chairwoman. She discussed her “3 truths”, which include distributors and manufacturers working together and acting as a bank for their customers, product rebates and efforts to improve the IDEA data warehouse.

Barsema also discussed the threat of online giants like and how as an industry we can evolve to make ourselves better. Barsema pointed out that having educated employees and using value added services are two ways to maintain our advantage over AmazonSupply. Western Region Vice-President Jeff Stroin kicked off his speech by discussing what it takes to be successful in this industry. Through hard work and networking, Stroin built his career to be what it is today.

He also reminded the full room about the importance of staying active in NAED events. Specifically, Stroin mentioned the work of the NAED Government Affairs department and its annual Fly-In to Washington D.C. Stroin believes the advocacy done by NAED and Government Affairs will protect our businesses during the next 5 years.

And, Stroin mentioned the work being done by NAED to help recruit and retain the next generation of our workforce. Stroin reminded everyone at the opening session that there are plenty of resources available to fill the vacancies at levels, including the dozens of opening Stroin is trying to fill himself.

Finally, sports agent J.B. Bernstein spoke about the creation of his “Million Dollar Arm” idea. Throughout his speech, Bernstein was able to remind the crowd of some serious business issues while also talking about the ups, downs and humorous events that happened throughout his effort to try something no one had ever tried before.

Outside of the opening session, the education sessions appeared to be well-attended, with the meetings on sales training, battling the online giants, and how to handle difficult conversations with employees seeing a good number of attendees.

Around the hotel, the perfect weather and hotel facilities allowed for a number of meetings outside of the scheduled booth sessions. There were a number of areas that attendees used to gather from early in the morning to late in the evening to discuss business.

The booth sessions themselves appeared to be very active, with an activity not just inside but outside as well. A number of companies were seen rushing from one meeting to another, a sign that there is some positivity in the economy.

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