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Archive for the ‘conventions’ Category

Live From Phoenix!

By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

Okay. Not really live, but we are in the middle of this year’s NSSEA School Equipment Show and for much of the F&E part of this business Phoenix is the temporary center of the universe. It is early Thursday morning and our sales and marketing team will be waking up today after an exhausting day one to prepare for day two. Some will be heading in to the convention center for sessions offered, some will be getting a workout in and working via their computers for the morning, and some may even sleep in. We had a very good day yesterday and look forward to another one today. Our booth was busy all day, but it seemed to us that the general walk-around traffic is down a bit this year.

There is something comforting about our industry, and about an event like this, especially in a down year. In my short 3+ years in the school furniture business as part of the Fleetwood team, I have now been to four of these NSSEA shows, and I now enjoy good relationships with other manufacturers, dealers and sales reps that I did not experience in my other career “lives.” In addition to this being a good show to highlight new products, educate new reps on old ones, and celebrate or cry about the economy, it is a great time to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones. It seems mostly true that once people are in this business they never leave it. They may change employers, but they seem to stay in educational furniture and equipment.

For those of you who have never worked in another industry, let me assure you we are blessed to be in a business where relationships still matter, and rather than being a side benefit relationships are core to how this all works. Schools largely depend on those with whom they have solid, trusting relationships to take care to their needs. Those sales reps with the best reputation for honesty and integrity and service tend to be successful. Those manufacturers who deal with schools, reps and dealers with honesty, integrity and service tend to be successful. Those who compromise in these big three character traits accumulate a bad reputation faster than a snowball gathers snow rolling down a hill. Their reputation begins to precede them, and sales become tougher and tougher. Their fate is to have to scrap and fight for business at the bottom of the cost curve in order to entice people who know better to work with them. Not a fun place to live.

I am happy to say that most of the friendships I have been privileged to have made over the past few years in this industry have been with those to whom honesty, integrity and outstanding customer service are core to how they do business. And from my vantage point, it appears that is truer in our industry than most.

And that is truly a blessing.

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