Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pattern and layout of IMARK Electrical meetings were steady and essentially unchanged for 20 years.
Our spring meeting (always in Chicago) consisted of a tradeshow—the Product “Showcase,” senior executives (I-Net groups, sales/marketing and purchasing/operations execs) and 20-minute one-on-one “speed dating” sessions between member and supplier key execs. Most of these events featured workshops and seminars on topics of relevance and importance.
Our fall meeting (usually a more casual gathering at a golf resort) is typically attended by IMARK Electrical members who have historically attended two meetings a year (since before the merger of IMARK and Equity/EDN) and consists of networking and the one-on-one meetings with execs from a select group of IMARK suppliers.
We always got the sense that our members and suppliers enjoyed these gatherings and found them to be a productive use of their time.
The pandemic radically changed the nature of human interaction across business and society and of course completely disrupted the patterns of our meetings.
Now we have an opportunity to take a “blank sheet of paper” to our meetings. As part of this process, we will take this opportunity to reassess the rationale for both our face-to-face meetings as well as “virtual” gatherings in an era of Zoom and Teams meetings and other communications platforms.
IMARK Electrical will deliver the highest possible financial returns to the member distributors while delivering above-market performance in volume and market share to a preferred group of leading manufacturers of electrical supplies and equipment.
We recently conducted a survey of IMARK Electrical members (130 respondents) and suppliers (60 respondents) to gather their thoughts on likes/dislikes, wants and needs.
We asked about meeting frequency, meeting venues, the relative importance of member networking and meetings
with manufacturers. We asked about the value of a tradeshow, and we asked about the kinds of places that they’d like to meet. We asked questions about the value of “virtual” meetings like Zoom-based one-on-ones and the virtual Product EXPO tradeshow.
While we are still reviewing the results, we can share these three key takeaways:
- Face-to-face meeting events will continue to be valuable and desirable opportunities for members and supplier execs.
- It is likely that IMARK Electrical will continue to offer “virtual events,” which proved to be highly cost-effective and efficient for many companies.
- After 20+ great years in Chicagoland, both members and suppliers are ready for a “change of scenery.”
As we develop the IMARK Electrical meetings of the future, we will keep our core mission in mind:
Our meetings must be highly supportive of our mission statement. These events have been—and will continue to be—an essential part of our group’s culture.
At the same time, we will strive to construct meetings that can lead to a competitive advantage for both our members and suppliers, and the people who work for these companies.
We are looking forward to the opportunity to create “best-in-class” meetings that will make a positive
difference for businesses and careers. We’ll need the support and guidance of our members and supplier partners to achieve our goal.