The 29th Annual Meeting & Convention of the Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution (NAHAD) was held on April 20-24, 2013 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at the National Harbor near our nation's capitol.  The annual event included speakers, workshops, networking, and fun.

The list of this year's speakers included James P. Meil, Vice President and Chief Economist from Eaton Corporation.  He shared his insights on the current and future economy as it affects the hose and accessory business.  Meil is also an expert on the fluid power economy and his forecasts are highly regarded throughout the fluid power industry.

Jim always makes some key points of interest and in this case, he was specifically addressing individuals from companies involved with hose and accessories, a very large fluid power category.  Eaton Corp., is a major player in this industry, especially since the acquisition of Aeroquip Corp. several years ago.

Some of the bullet points from Jim's presentation include the comment that the economy is trending up slowly, despite uncertainty.  This is good news, especially for fluid power companies that sell globally.  We are watching downside signals from Cyprus, Greece, and Spain.  The U.S. sequester may be tough on defense and a mixed story on the rest of the economy.

With regard to industrial, capital spending, and transportation trends, the construction market in the U.S. is OK.  Capital equipment closed 2012 flat but there are some green shoots in the U.S. Global vehicle and civilian aero markets are improving except in Europe.  Jim is a great source of information for the industrial markets.  The NAHAD committee is right on task by having Jim Meil as a regular featured speaker at the Annual Meeting & Convention.

Andrew Card was Chief of Staff in the presidential administration of George W. Bush.  He also served as Secretary of Transportation and was VP at General Motors.  He delivered the keynote address on Sunday and it was titled Strategic Leadership:  Challenges and Choices Amidst Crisis.  Here is a person who is very well qualified and experienced to give such an address.  He was President Bush's Chief of Staff on September 11, 2001.

As business owners, operators, and managers, we are faced with many challenges and often crisies in our businesses.  It is essential, according to the presentation by Mr. Card, to have very strong and strategic leadership in such times.  He reflected on the events of 911 and following days and focused on the leadership shown by the president during this crisis.  This was a very memorable speech and one that touched everyone in attendance. 

On Sunday also, the annual University of Industrial Distribution - UID-in-a-Day sessions were held with the choice of three tracks for the delegates.  One was presented by Nancye Coombs and was centered around Human Resources, Human Capital Investment, and the Right Compensation System.  The second session presented by Jason Bader was all about changing the way that we look at the physical warehouse.  The morning session was titled Cover Your Assets:  Protecting People, Property, and Products in the Warehouse and in theafternoon, Turning Buyers into Investors:  Balancing Financial Performance with Customer Service.

Don Buttrey of Sales Professionall Training, Inc. presented a sales-centric course that highlighted building a winning sales team.  It covered pre-call planning and preparing for objections, complaints, and negotiation ploys.  This was a solid sales training course that was helpful to anyone trying to improve their career and their company.

This year's Annual Meeting & Convention had excellent networking and excursion opportunities.  The opening reception is always an upbeat, fun, and spirited time to meet new people and renew business acquaintances.  The setting of the National Harbor was scenic even though the weather kept delegates inside for the evening.

The hospitality night was held on Sunday night with numerous themed receptions given by the hose and accessory manufacturers for their distributors.  One company presented a very interesting baseball theme, another a James Bond setting, and yet another a modern dance theme.  This night is amazing because of the atmosphere created by the hospitable intentions of the manufacturers.

Washington, D.C. certainly offers lots of sightseeing and the NAHAD management carefully selectied fun and interesting tours for the delegates and their attending spouses.  Included were tours of the Capitol Building, Monuments, Supreme Court, and even a Moonlight Tour.  This is a great time to get to know other delegates.  The annual golf tournament has the same intention as it was held very successfully on Monday as well.

The Showcase of Hose Solutions is a mini trade show held on Tuesday with the hose and accessory manufacturers displaying their products to the distributors who are the attendees who circulate through the booths.  to make this year extra special, a "Strolling Luncheon" was served.  This is an opportunity to connect with a distributor to gain coverage in an area of the country.  It is also an opportunity for a distributor to learn about and possibly make a connection with a manufacturer to round our their product line offering.

The Closing Dinner featured fine food, conversation, and the Capitol Steps.  They were funny!  This group started out as Senate staffers who set out to satirize the people and happenings of Washington.  If you ever get a chance to see or hear them, do so.

Congratulations to the NAHAD management group led by Joe and Kristin Thompson.  They have continually done a fantastic job of making this annual event productive and fun.  The NAHAD Annual Meeting & Convention is so well organized that it is a joy to attend!