The National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA) enjoyed record attendance for last week’s annual conference at the Hilton Bayfront in not-so-sunny San Diego. The meeting drew over 1,800 attendees – a big increase over the 1,000 attendees at the annual conference in New York five years ago. Some industry road warriors knew their way around the Hilton pretty well – the NAED Western Conference finished up a few days before NEMRA kicked off. Great facility, but NEMRA President Ken Hooper said his association had already outgrown the hotel and would be moving to the Marriott Marquis when it returns to San Diego in 2018. Ken also told EW the association will be offering an exciting new training venture in the NEMRA Institute for Sales Training through the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia. Details to follow on that.
Business seems to have gotten off to a bit of a slow start for many of the attendees EW spoke with, with a distinct softness in the oil patch. Across the country, one Baltimore rep said business has been tough over the last year in part due to several contractor bankruptcies, and he took issue with the 8.9% increase for this year that Electrical Wholesaling forecast for the South Atlantic region, a gigantic area stretching along the Eastern Seaboard from Delaware, Maryland, D.C., down through the Carolinas and into Florida. While Baltimore is apparently climbing back from a rough patch, one Philadelphia rep said his market is looking real solid for 2015 and a Bay Area rep said the amount of new office construction and mass transit projects has been keeping his agency real busy.
Some sad news broke at the conference with the word that Karen Brusacoram, beloved wife of industry leader Gary Brusacoram, passed away on Jan. 30 after a long battle with cancer. Karen was a founding partner of Brusacoram Sales and a familiar and friendly face at NEMRA activities over the years.
Her obituary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, “She was the silent partner that made the real difference in the success of the agency while managing a household, traveling husband and two very involved and busy girls. Karen did it all with fairness, honesty and passion.” Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gary, his daughters and grandchildren.
Next year’s NEMRA will be held Feb.3-6 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.