The NBMDA Annual Convention occurred in mid-November in Colorado Springs, Colo. How was attendance?
Attendance was strong for both NBMDA and our partner association – North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors. Total attendance for 2017 will surpass that of 2016.
What was new at this year’s event?
We introduced a new event theme, Education to Evolve Profitable Distribution, which we feel effectively communicates the primary objective of the event.
Based on attendee feedback, we featured a higher number of speakers and topics at this year’s event including two sets of concurrent sessions plus an additional general session.
We took a major step in the evolution of our event app by eliminating our paper-based onsite program for the first time and instead providing attendees with enhanced features within the mobile app. Attendees responded favorably and thus we will continue to evolve our app over the coming years.
Finally, we used the event to acknowledge the association’s 65th Anniversary which we have been celebrating all year.
How were the reviews by attendees?
Our attendees absolutely love The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. This was highlighted by the fact that many of them extended their stay beyond the convention dates and strongly expressed their opinion to come back to the property in the near future. We are in negotiations to potentially return to this property in 2020.
What is the plan for the Annual Convention in 2018?
We will return to Dallas, Texas for the 2018 event on Nov. 6-8. The convention will be hosted by the Hilton Anatole Hotel for the first time which is large enough to accommodate our growing attendee base. The central location of Dallas will make it easy for all members to attend. Our committee will be meeting in February to plan the details but I am confident that we will continue to introduce new and exciting features.
What is the status of NBMDA membership base?
NBMDA has a stable and growing member base. Twenty-one firms have joined the association since our current dues cycle began in July and we hosted nineteen prospective members at our recent Annual Convention in Colorado. We expect to successfully convert the majority of these firms into members which will provide us with net growth for the 2017/18 dues cycle.
Any new strategies for continuing to grow the distributor member base in 2018?
We are introducing a new Trial Membership model next year in which qualified distributors can receive all benefits of membership starting in January as long as they commit to attend the 2018 Convention. Our Gold Education Supplier Donors will have the privilege to extend trial membership to select distributors within their networks.
We will be aggressively soliciting new members at the 2018 International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta net summer which has historically proven to be our best source of new members.
We will also be continuing our popular Hosted Distributor Prospect program at the 2018 Annual Convention in which qualified distributors can attend the event at no cost to check us out for one event.
NBMDA saw a spike in support of its annual Education Development Program in 2017. What is driving this growth?
The Educational Development Program has been around for over fifteen years and the program is enhanced each year to add value to our donors. In 2017, the bundle of services offered to Gold Supplier donors was further enhanced by adding a sponsorship of our popular Networking Reception at the summer woodworking trade shows.
NBMDA is no longer a sponsoring association of the annual Woodworking Industry Conference (WIC) held each spring. Why did the Board of Directors decide to end this relationship?
We thoroughly enjoyed our run as a sponsoring association of the WIC event over the past several years. The NBMDA Board simply felt it was time to try something new. We are currently evaluating some other possibilities for a future NBMDA spring conference. The NBMDA Board and committees will meet at NBMDA headquarters in spring of 2018 for the first time and discussions will continue on a potential new networking opportunity to be offered in the spring of 2019.
NBMDA recently became a Gold Sponsor of the Woodworking Career Alliance (WCA). How did this come about?
The NBMDA’s Board of Directors is focused on health and vitality of the various customer segments that NBMDA members serve and want to ensure that NBMDA is doing its part in supporting industry wide issues and initiatives. The Woodworking Career Alliance supports workforce development for the woodworking industry, which includes certification and training of new and existing woodworking professionals as well as students at both the high school and post- secondary levels. We believe this is a worthwhile cause and are happy to support it. Many NBMDA volunteer leaders have stepped-up and matched our contribution and we ask all members to consider doing the same.
NBMDA launched several new strategic partnerships in 2017. Tell us about some of these initiatives and how they were received by the members.
Members requested resources to help them manage their truck fleets and to lower the growing costs associated with these vital assets of their business. NBMDA launched a partnership with Industrial Fleet Management (IFM) in 2017 and member feedback has been extremely positive. IFM brings many years of experience to help members stay abreast of trends in full service truck leasing while also providing assistance with lowering costs of material handling equipment and fuel. IFM will conduct a complimentary analysis of a member’s fuel spend as part of the new NBMDA-IFM partnership. For those members who purchase their trucks, NBMDA now has a special rebate program with International in which members receive a rebate above-and- beyond their locally negotiated purchase price of a new truck.
NBMDA also introduced a new partnership with Jast Media this past year. Jast helps members with all of their digital marketing needs and provides members with special rates. Jast Media has direct experience working with distributors and manufacturers with several NBMDA members already reporting positive feedback on their experience with the dedicated professionals at Jast Media.
Are there any new initiatives being considered for 2018?
There is a growing number of NBMDA members requesting that we re-introduce a financial benchmarking program. NBMDA had such a program in the past but has not provided such a service since 2007. We are in negotiations with a new partner and are excited about the potential to provide members with an exclusive opportunity to compare key financial metrics and ratios with their fellow members in a confidential and autonomous manner. More to come on this exciting new opportunity in the coming months!
What made 2017 such a productive year for NBMDA?
Three things made 2017 such a great year for the NBMDA: Committed and engaged volunteers; Valuable strategic partners; and year over year positive momentum that continues to build. Word is spreading throughout the industry that NBMDA provides great value to its members and continues to morph as the channel shifts and the players and issues change.