Tom Hammel 2017-10-03 01:46:36
Austin on the brain This year, I fully expect to spend several too-short days in Austin basking in the glow of a show for the record books. I’ll see you in Austin; I’ll have a smile on my face as big as Texas. Are we there yet? It seems as if the anticipation of this year’s STAFDA Convention & Trade Show in Austin has been building ever since the city was announced, slowly at first, then faster and higher. Today, (in late September) as I write this, the excitement has gone from palpable to cut-with-a-knife. I’m not the only one who feels it, either. STAFDA had so many exhibit space reservations for this year’s show that they blew out the walls of the Austin Convention Center and forced the addition of a secondary exhibitor hall in the Hilton across the street. Apparently, many distributors have Austin on the brain too. STAFDA’s usual roster of three host hotels sold out in record time and they have filled room blocks in four more hotels. That’s right, seven convention hotels. Certainly the economy is playing a role in this blowout success, as does the appeal of Austin to a lesser extent, but I think the true credit goes to STAFDA itself for hitting what this year especially feels like a critical mass of industry prominence and value for its members. This issue is certainly trying to do its part too, with more pure STAFDA coverage by page count than ever, more consultant articles and a whiz-bang (I hope!) cover story on the incoming 2018 STAFDA president, Michelle St. John and her company, Industrial Bolt and Supply (IBS) of Auburn, Washington. IBS truly isn’t your ”typical STAFDA house” —it is actually more of an industrial/MRO house with a hybrid spin. IBS has all the bells and whistles of an industrial house including VMI and EDI programs, extensive documentation of value added for customers, dedicated in-shop merchandising systems and more. But IBS combines all those tools with an ingenious strategy to continually set, reinforce and validate customer expectations of service and product performance as the basis for lifelong relationships. Michelle and her brother and IBS co-owner Derek credit their father for developing that model, but they are fine-tuning it to deliver the company’s best years ever. The hybrid industrial story of IBS has a lot to offer construction distributors with inquiring minds, and I hope you will find some interesting take-aways in it, and in the rest of this STAFDA-packed issue. You can tell a lot by a person by their catch phrases. I have many, but one that keeps coming back to me over the decades is, “The suspense is terrible — I hope it will last.” But the human body can take only so much suspense before something gives. This year, I fully expect to spend several too-short days in Austin basking in the glow of a show for the record books. I’ll see you in Austin; I’ll have a smile on my face as big as Texas. Tom Hammel email@example.com
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