I’m currently not a member of the NFDA but I was invited to attend the Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky as guest of another company. For quite a while I have wanted to attend an NFDA event and Vickie Lester told me that the Annual Meeting with the ESPS Sessions was one of the more popular meetings. And, now that I have attended I can see very clearly why these are so popular. The whole event was just great – very well organized, very productive and fun too. I really cannot say enough good things about the event.
As far as I can tell, the people who signed up for this meeting attended all the functions. The opening reception was well attended and gave me an opportunity to visit with a lot of industry friends and some people I had not met before. Immediately after the reception, a large number of attendees moved over to the bar area that was very centrally located and overlooked the Ohio River. The bar was a large, open area and a perfect place for a large group to comfortably carry on the visiting and networking. Central meeting areas are always great at trade shows and association meetings and I’m pretty certain Vickie had scoped this out before settling on the Galt House as the host hotel.
The following morning there was a breakfast session and NFDA President Casey McIlhon did a great job of covering association business. Vickie, Casey and the rest of the board deserve a lot of credit as it was evident that a lot of planning went into this meeting. After breakfast came the ESPS sessions which were even better than I expected. The NFDA had an entire hotel floor sectioned off where companies could hold private meetings in their hotel suites. Each half hour, there would be a signal for visitors to move on to their next session in a sort of “fastener speed dating”. Some attendees filled their entire schedule (12 available meeting sessions) but contacted other suppliers for private meetings before or after these scheduled sessions. I participated in several of these “additional” meetings. The companies that secured rooms and hosted customers all seemed to be very pleased with the results of their meetings. Attendees came prepared and had specific things to discuss while leaving time to learn more about the host companies. NFDA meetings are usually held at places where one can enjoy oneself, but the ESPS sessions were serious business. The sessions I sat in on were great. That evening we enjoyed dinner at the Muhammad Ali Center which also is located on the picturesque Ohio River.
NFDA membership includes many “movers and shakers” in the fastener industry and there were plenty of them at this event. And the atmosphere was casual and comfortable and I felt very welcome even as a guest. Well, except for Tom Buddenbohn trying to report to Vickie that there was a party crasher! OK, to be honest Tom has been encouraging me for several years to attend a meeting (and join) and I’m happy to report that Tom was not lying about the association and the events. Thanks for the hospitality and I hope to see you at future NFDA events.