It’s no coincidence that the number of co-hosted industry trade events has increased in the past 12 months as acceptance grows for the need to take costs out of the channel. The Business Solutions Association (BSA) and the Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Association (IOPFDA) – which includes the restructured NOPA – are the latest organisations to come together in what has been hailed as an "historic event" for the independent dealer community.
The first BSA/IOPFDA Annual Forum takes place in San Diego, California, from 22-26 October and it is expected that more than 320 people will attend. BSA will hold its own conference at the start of the event and IOPFDA will close the meeting with its own conference. In the middle, there is a merged portion including a number of awards and special recognitions.
Combined, the two organisations certainly include all the stakeholders in the independent channel: manufacturers, rep groups, wholesalers, service providers, dealer groups and dealers.
"When we look at BSA members and the value we try to provide them, I think one of the missing links from our previous events has been attendance by resellers themselves," says BSA President Jim O’Brien. "Putting the furniture and office dealers from IOPFDA in front of our members adds a lot of value to them."
IOPFDA President Mike Tucker believes that the event could herald closer ties between furniture dealers and the rest of the office proucts industry. "Even though these dealers are considered part of our industry, they haven’t really engaged much at all with the office products side," he notes. "Moving forward, we hope we can bring them closer – we will certainly become stronger if we all work together."
The theme of the Forum is ‘Creative Disruption’, something which O’Brien says describes the desire to break existing patterns in behaviour. "BSA believes our industry is already in a transformational stage and wants to be a constructive voice and accelerant to the change it feels is necessary,"
Tucker adds: "What I like about this collaboration is that we’re trying to dive deeper into industry problems and opportunities, and come up with programmes to really help take independents to the next level."
There is no product expo at the BSA/IOPFDA Annual Forum, but manufacturers do have the opportunity to book suites at the Loews Coronado Bay venue if they wish to display merchandise.
Both O’Brien and Tucker say there has been strong interest from their members in the combined event and they hope that future meetings will be able to build on this year’s achievements. There are also plans to make future conferences even more inclusive as independent resellers broaden their ranges of products and services. This could hopefully include some form of collaboration with adjacent categories such as jan/san and educational supplies.
But first, to San Diego next month and to this latest example of the growing collaboration between the various stakeholders in the independent dealer community.
BSA/IOPFDA 2014 Annual Forum highlights
Two state-of-the-industry presentations by Cleveland Research
BSA presentations/panels on:
- social and digital media
- cohesive digital strategies
- sales processes
- legislative review
- sales training with Tim Wackel
- ROI on social media
- Affordable Care Act implications
- recruiting and retaining an age-diverse workforce
- dealer roundtables
Industry recognition awards:
- David Williamson – Legend of the Industry
- Jeff Howard – Leadership Award
- Jim Hebert – Lifetime Achievement
- Sandi Jacobs – IOPFDA Chairman Award
- Glenn McDaniel – IOPFDA Chairman Award
- Many networking opportunities