Summit 21 in the Rearview Mirror

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

Having been a BrandSource member for about 15 years and having attended at least one Convention or Summit annually (usually both), it’s safe to say that I know what I like and don’t like in a buying group show.

So now that the 2021 Summit has come to a close, I’d like to share some thoughts and observations.

This year I was able to get a peek “behind the curtain” so to speak, and one thing I realized is that the people behind the scenes, including the AVB Events and YSN teams, really do work their tails off to make these shows happen. As a dealer, I had no idea just how much goes on that we never know about.  So I’d like to start by giving big kudos to them for their efforts. 

For me, BrandSource events have always been about the 4 E’s:

  1. Education
  2. Expo
  3. Entertainment
  4. Esprit de Corps   

Last week I thought the educational sessions for the Summit were top notch; in fact, some of the best we’ve ever had.  Like most of you I’m sure, I wasn’t able to catch every single one, but the presentations I did watch were very informative. If I had to pick a few of the winners, I’d have to say my favorites were:

Also, the session on “Changing Consumer Trends and How to Win With GE Appliances” was not at all what I expected.  While the title almost scared me off because it sounded like it was going to be an hour-long sales pitch, I’m glad I participated because GEA’s Lindsey Freibert and Tekisha Boone spent probably 95 percent of the session talking about buying local and promoting yourself as the hometown experts. 

As for keynote speaker Marcus Sheridan, I thought he was fantastic. I love a speaker who doesn’t just tell you what they did, but also tells you how they did it. And that was exactly what Marcus did. Even though I don’t own a company any more, after listening to him speak, ideas were bouncing all around in my brain about how dealers could attract customers.

See: Best Keynote Ever? It Was for Me

Let’s be honest, nothing can recreate the excitement of a live expo. But with product availability being what it is and the Summit still being virtual, I think the Events team did a great job in making it as good as they possibly could.

Now when it comes to entertainment, a virtual Summit simply cannot compete with Las Vegas or Nashville. So as the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  And that’s exactly what the Events team did, coming up with a variety of events to keep people entertained and engaged.

But for me, the single biggest reason to come to a Convention or Summit (outside of the Fast Cash, of course) is the esprit de corps — the camaraderie between dealers and friends. And while nothing can replace sitting around a table in a lounge late at night talking for hours with friends from all around the country, I think the Summit did a pretty good job of replicating that as best as possible. 

In particular, last Wednesday night’s “Margs with Mary & Ritas with Rick” Happy Hour by GE Appliances really stood out for me.  It really was like sitting around, just shooting the breeze with friends. Toward the end of the session, John White joined the conversation and offered some really interesting observations. And just like E.F. Hutton, when John White speaks, people listen. 

John hit the nail on the head when he said, “I know it’s painful, but the longer the industry is in this state of chaos, it’s better for all of you … Nobody is better equipped to handle this than you [BrandSource members] … If this lasts for ten years, great!” 

And you know what? He’s absolutely right. As difficult as this past year has been, BrandSource members should hope it continues for as long as possible, because despite the headaches of the new normal, our members are growing both market share and profits

Related: Manufacturers Aren’t as Crazy as You May Think

Personally, I sure hope the Convention in August is able to go live as planned. But if it doesn’t, I am extremely confident that the Events Team at AVB will take it another step forward as they continue to set the bar for virtual conventions.

Longtime Maytag Channel member Mark Patterson of Patterson’s Appliance in Tennessee seemed to echo my sentiments when he said to me as the Summit was nearing its close, “Yeah, the speakers were very good this time around and all things considered, they really have done a great job with this.” 

I always get a kick when someone reaches out to me because one of my articles struck a chord with them. So if you have a question or comment about something I wrote (good or bad), please reach out to me at egvrich@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.