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Motion Control Distributors, Manufacturers Meet in Florida for Premier Industry Networking Event

On Sunday, October 3, 2021, members of the FPDA: Motion Control Solutions Network gathered in Sandestin, Florida for its annual Industry Summit. FPDA members were eager to again meet face-to-face at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort to reconnect — many for the first time — since the last in-person summit in October 2019. More than 100 FPDA members joined colleagues from the Equipment Service Association and the International Sealing Distribution Association. 

“When it comes to networking in the distribution business, nothing compares with being across a table or side-by-side at a reception,” said 2019-2021 FPDA President Kevin Kampe of Dallas-based Womack Machine Supply Company. “The Industry Summit is purposefully designed to maximize connections between distributors and manufacturers, both to create new relationships and strengthen existing ties.”

The first day of the summit focused on networking, with a welcome reception followed by a social event specifically for young executives of the three associations. On Monday morning the program kicked into high gear with an opening keynote by marketing guru Gerry O’Brion. O’Brion, whose resume boasts marketing positions with Proctor & Gamble, Quiznos, and Coors Brewing, shared his framework of influence designed to help companies stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The summit’s first IndustrySpeak session followed the opening keynote. These sessions, loosely based on TED Talks, encourage interaction and the sharing of information. Moderator John Norton led the discussion on warehouse automation and practical methods of applying today’s technologies to distribution facilities.

After lunch FPDA members gathered for the annual meeting of members. FPDA Conference Chair Bill Haley welcomed attendees with a special recognition of new member companies and first-time summit participants. Kampe outlined successes over the past year, including new educational programming (the Joint Sales Workshop and economic forecast webinars by ITR Economics). Kampe also introduced new branding for the association that better aligns with changes in the motion control industry and FPDA’s new mission statement: “To equip motion control solution providers with tools that drive growth, profitability, and innovation.”

After a brief presentation by business analyst Joe Calvello of Calvello Research Group, Haley shared FPDA’s newest initiative: Future Leaders in Motion. The mentorship program is designed for rising stars in the motion control industry and provides easy-to-implement tools to improve management, leadership, and business results.

“We have worked very hard over the past few months to develop a program offering educational resources with an FPDA focus to develop your younger leaders,” Haley said. “This program offers world-class growth opportunities developed specifically for a fast-paced, challenging work environment.”

The business meeting concluded with the election of new officers. The slate, approved unanimously, will guide FPDA for the next year —

  • President: Jeff Behling, Stauff
  • President Elect: Bob Decker, Livingston & Haven
  • Vice President and Treasurer: Tom Nicholson, GS Global Resources
  • Convention Chair: Pat Nichols, The Monnier Company
  • Young Executives Chair: Zach Reddick, Womack Machine Company
  • Past President: Kevin Kampe, Womack Machine Company
  • Director: Greg Wissman, Triad Technologies

After the traditional passing of the gavel and brief remarks, 2021-2022 FPDA President Jeff Behling presented appreciation plaques to three board directors completing their terms: Lon Jennings of Hydradine, Bob Decker (FPDA President Elect), and Young Executive Chair Ryan Schenk. As the last order of business, Behling presented a plaque to Kevin Kampe and thanked Kampe for his extended term as president and his work to keep the board on task and engaged during the pandemic.

The first day of the summit concluded with the ever-popular Supplier Showcase and Reception. Twenty exhibitors displayed products and the latest innovations in the motion control, equipment service, and sealing industries.

On Tuesday morning after breakfast, Lauren Saidel-Baker of ITR Economics delivered the summit’s economic keynote. She explored the opportunities and risks ahead and shared business responses, tactics, and strategies given projected changes in the economy.

The final two IndustrySpeak sessions followed Saidel-Baker’s presentation. In the IndustrySpeak B session, Interlynx founder Larry White revealed industry insights on the latest software and technology empowering distributors to generate increased sales. FPDA’s Bill Haley moderated a distributor panel in the IndustrySpeak C session. The topic was employee hiring and retention in a post-Covid-19 world with a panel including Brian DeSpain (ISD, Global O-Ring and Seal), Tom Nicholson (FPDA, GS Global Services), and Chris Johnson (ESA, Johnson Hydraulic Sales).

While the weather did not cooperate for the golfers Tuesday afternoon nor the evening’s beach-bound revelers, the freedom in the schedule did allow for continued networking and reconnecting with clients. Of course, the show must go on: the evening’s closing beach bonfire party was quickly accommodated at the hotel’s pool bar (sans fire).

The weather still refused to behave on Wednesday morning for the Beat the Sun Run in support of local charity Lotus Learning and Arts Center, which also robbed the runners the opportunity to show off this year’s groovy commemorative tank tops.

The summit closed on Wednesday morning with a final keynote on business ethics by Andy Fastow. No topic was off the table for the former chief financial officer of Enron Corporation, who served a six-year federal sentence for securities fraud.

A post-summit survey found 67 percent of summit attendees felt the event exceeded or highly exceeded expectations. Among the comments from the survey: “The valuable messages from the  keynotes will help me transition from the daily grind to working strategically on the business,” “The Industry Summit does an outstanding job of providing attendees with meaningful learning opportunities in addition to networking with peers,” and “Informative, fun, and definitely relationship-building for current and new business contacts.”

After a long hiatus, the Industry Summit showed the effectiveness and efficiency of FPDA members gathering to discuss industry concerns, meet potential customers, and forge deeper relations with existing clients. The success of the summit was due, in no small part, to the many generous sponsors across the memberships of FPDA, the International Sealing Distribution Association and the Equipment Service Association.

The 2021 Industry Summit organizers thank Silver Level sponsors Norcan Fluid Power and Parker Hannifin, Young Executive workshop sponsor FORCE America, Supplier Showcase reception sponsor Connector Specialists, Beat the Sun Run sponsor Master Packing & Rubber Company, meeting app sponsor Womack Machine Supply Company, breakfast sponsors IC-Fluid Power and KLINGER Thermoseal, and NOSHOK, Interlynx Systems, Connector Specialists, and Tribute for sponsoring tote bags, koozies, pens, and hotel key cards. Additional thanks go to the Industry Summit media partners Design World and Fluid Power World.    

The 2022 Industry Summit is scheduled to take place at the Westin Snowmass Resort in Colorado on October 2-5.

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