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NEMRA Conference 2019

NEMRA Conference

With more than 1,900 attendees, the NEMRA Conference had the look and feel of one of association’s largest-ever meetings, an encouraging sign as NEMRA approaches its 50th anniversary in 2020.

Reps and manufacturers tracking their steps in Dallas at last month’s NEMRA Conference got in plenty of extra roadwork as they hustled to meetings throughout the mammoth Hilton Anatole. Reports were that the event attracted nearly 2,000 industry execs. Dozens of vendors’ one-on-one booths lined three aisles in a cavernous room the size of an aircraft hangar, and the hotel is famous for the number of suites and meeting rooms it has available for group sessions.

The first two days of the conference had the look and feel of one of NEMRA’s largest-ever meetings, a very encouraging sign as the association approaches its 50th anniversary in 2020. The meeting will hold a bittersweet memory for many attendees as the last conference for its president, Ken Hooper, who will be retiring later this year. Hooper led NEMRA through an impressive era of growth over the last 10 years, and the many training programs he launched during his tenure from 2008 to 2018 gave members the necessary resources to up their game and become more professional rep agencies.

NEMRA’s Ken Hooper (left) presents the 2019 PowerPact Partnership of the Year Award to Skip Watson, CEO, Fields Electrical Sales, Lebanon, OH (center); and John Hoffman, executive VP, Legrand.

The Second Annual NEMMY Awards recognized rep firms and manufacturers for the marketing partnerships and innovative operating strategies that best exemplified NEMRA’s PowerPact program. Launched two years ago at the Orlando conference, PowerPact challenges reps and manufacturers to adapt specific mutually beneficial selling, marketing and operational strategies.

Winning this year’s NEMRA NEMMY Awards were:

PowerPact Partnership of the Year

Skip Watson, CEO, Fields Electrical Sales, Lebanon, OH; and John Hoffman, executive VP, Legrand

Manufacturers’ Choice Award

Chris Coursey, owner, Bell & McCoy Companies, Houston, TX

Reps’ Choice Award

Paul Suzio, Bridgeport Fittings

Heard at NEMRA. Lots of speculation about who might be replacing Ken Hooper as NEMRA’s president. The search committee headed by Fran Pollart, Pollart Electrical Sales, reportedly will make an offer to a candidate by the end of April, and one rumor we heard was that the committee is considering candidates with electrical industry experience, as well as candidates with a background in trade association management.

Dal Ferbert stopped by the Electrical Wholesaling/Electrical Marketing booth to tell us that he will be leaving Littelfuse after 40 years. Dal is one of the good guys in the business and we wish him well… Several reps and manufacturers said that while January got off to a slow start, February is a kicking into a much higher gear… Tariffs. Tariffs. Tariffs… That’s what one rep said was the top topic at most of his one-on-one meetings with manufacturers.

Some attendees said that while the Hilton Anatole is one of the few hotels in the United States with enough conference rooms and guest rooms for a NEMRA Conference, the fact that many of the manufacturers’ breakout sessions were held in a different tower than the one-on-one sessions made it tough to catch up with everyone at the conference unless you had a prescheduled appointment with them... LEDs were once again the dominant product in the booths at the NEMRA Showcase of Services.

Next year’s NEMRA Conference will be held in Orlando, Jan. 28 – Feb. 1, 2020.

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