2013 STAFDA Recap

November 20, 2013


Just returned from the 2013 STAFDA Show in Las Vegas. According to STAFDA, attendance was up to around 4,900 participants.

The show for the most part was upbeat, and the economic forecast for the next few years looks promising for the construction market.

I talked to several manufacturers and they seemed happy for the most part on the turnout for the trade show. The last day didn’t set any records, but most trade shows don’t.

In talking with several distributors and a few buying groups that were there, they confirmed that they were having great growth in 2013 and expect it to continue into 2014.

It was nice to go to a distributor/manufacturer meeting where both sides were positive. Hopefully the crystal ball will be right.

STAFDA 2013 – Las Vegas Insider’s Guide

November 6, 2013


For those of you that are going to Las Vegas this weekend for the STAFDA Show, we put together an Insider’s Guide to Las Vegas by asking friends and business associates about gems in the city that you might not be aware of. It includes Restaurants, Nightlife, Events and more. It’s available here.

We hope you have a good show. See you there.

What Are Your Thoughts on Buying Groups and Trade Associations?

December 19, 2012

I know there’s been lots of discussions on the pros and cons of buying groups over the years, and I’m not here to try to sway you one way or the other.

I recently came back from STAFDA, which for those who don’t know, is an association of construction distributors and the manufacturers that sell into that market. What struck me at the trade show part of the event was it was obvious which manufacturers didn’t belong to a group. You saw plenty of Evergreen, Sphere 1 and NetPlus badges there, but they were concentrating mostly on seeing the manufacturing members of their respective groups. (I’m using STAFDA as an example and I’m not trying to pick on them.)

So my question is for those who don’t belong to a group
(and don’t have a unique product), how do you justify going to one of these meetings? Should the association try to incentivize distributors to stop by new member booths? I feel sorry for those folks who ponied up the cash but not very many distributors stopped by.
Another interesting issue is that most of these buying groups have their own annual meetings and some are incorporating trade shows along with these get-togethers. From a manufacturing point of view, which shows do you go to? Obviously it’s the ones where you get the most bang for your buck.

Associations/buying groups may want to look at their model as things have changed over the past several years.
They need to ask about the value proposition of getting these distributors and manufacturers together. Instead of trade shows (whoever introduces a new product at one of these), maybe there should be a series of round table discussions on how to improve the supply chain for everyone involved.

There are some really smart people out there (on both sides), and I believe a lot more could come out of these kinds of meetings and they could include all members.

Any of you belong to other type groups that have changed the model? I’d like to hear from you.

How Can We Get the Most Out of Trade Association Meetings?

May 1, 2012

I just got back last week from the ISA (Industrial Supply Association) Show in San Antonio, and I have to tell you, if I were a manufacturer, I’d have to think about what I was getting out of that show. Since we represent manufacturers that go to these types of meetings, I thought I’d bring up the subject for some serious conversation.

In theory, it’s a place where manufacturers and their distribution counterparts come together via a format of speed dating where the manufacturer requests meetings with distributors (both existing customers and potentials). Like anything else, there are no shows for appointments. The booth program is a two-day affair and while the traffic was light on the first day, it was almost non-existent the second day.

If I was a distributor and could talk to as many suppliers as I could in a period of a few days, I would think they would want to take advantage of it. The manufacturers, as in most associations, foot the bills. They have to bring in product, booths and their associated expenses. What’s most disturbing is that the ratio of manufacturers to distributors is probably 10 to 1.

I don’t have the answer and I’m not trying to pick on ISA. STAFDA, NAEDNAHAD and many more face the same dilemma. There’s got to be a better way in a shorter period of time to make the most out of these meetings. Back in the day, these meetings were a place to showcase new products and programs, but with internet and all the other tools we have, I would hope at least your current customers would know about anything new.

I do recall that the fall meetings in Chicago for a day and a half at the airport were both efficient and successful. I believe it was due in part because the distributors were in the booth and you did your speed dating, but only the roles were reversed. NAED does this at their regional meetings, and as far as I can tell, the manufacturers like the format.

Any suggestions on how we can get these distributor/supplier get togethers to be better for all parties involved?

Overview of the Construction Industry’s Outlook for 2012

February 14, 2012

Georgia Foley, the executive director of STAFDA, spent a few minutes with us after her return from the World of Concrete show late last month. While there, she met with her manufacturing liaison committee and shared their comments on the state of the construction industry. Listen to it by clicking below. Enjoy.

Highlights of 2011 STAFDA Show

December 1, 2011


I just returned from the STAFDA meeting in San Antonio. I was able to talk to several manufacturers and reps to get their thoughts on the show itself and what the outlook is for 2012. There were some interesting comments.

Listen to the Podcast:

Download the Podcast (MP3)

STAFDA Convention 2011 – San Antonio

November 9, 2011

For those of you that are going to San Antonio this weekend for the STAFDA Show, we put together an Insider’s Guide to San Antonio by asking friends and business associates about gems in the city that you might not be aware of. It includes Restaurants, Nightlife, Events and more. It’s available here.

We hope you have a good show. See you there.

STAFDA 2010 – Manufacturers and Distributors More Upbeat

November 15, 2010

I just returned from the 34th Annual Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA) convention and trade show. Attendance was up and so were the spirits of all who attended. Georgia Foley and the team once again put on a great event.

Their keynote speaker this year was Sarah Palin who delighted the audience and shared her vision on several issues that affect the STAFDA membership.

I spoke to several folks during the show including distributors, reps and manufacturers, and pretty much across the board they were all optimistic for 2011. Most noted that there are pockets of business out there, you just have to look for them.

I’ve assembled some “on the floor interviews” from several manufacturers that I’d like to share with you here.


How Manufacturers Can Help Distributors Ramp Up Their Cash Flow

November 3, 2010

A friend of mine, Abe WalkingBear, developer of a copyrighted profit system that focuses on improving cash flow, has agreed to share some of his insights (some are truly unique) on how manufacturers can help distributors. He’s written books, is an international speaker and co-authored STAFDA’s Foundations of Business 2007.

Old military funny money finds new life in business. During this time of slow sales and extended delays in business credit customers’ payments, an old idea is reborn.

During the Vietnam War, U.S troops and sailors in Asia were paid in funny money, i.e. MPC (military payment certificate). This funny money, which was also called “monopoly money” or “script,” was in use up until 1973. Members of the American military could convert MPCs to US dollars upon leaving a designated MPC zone, but while in these zones, all you could do with it was go to the Post Exchange (PX) or the Ship’s store and convert it to the local currency. MPC in Vietnam had pictures of movie stars on it and I can’t remember for sure, but I think that Marilyn Monroe was on the $20 bill.  

Interesting, but what does this have to do with improved cash flow and more sales? 

Distributors sometimes offer their business credit customers a 2-10-N30 payment term. i.e. the customer can take a 2% discount off the invoice amount if they pay it within 10 days, otherwise the full invoice amount is due in 30 days.

The idea behind the early pay discount being to spur cash flow.

Any business customer not taking advantage of a 2-10-N30 early pay discount fails to do so for one of two reasons:

1) they don’t have the financial ability to do so…no money

2) the sales and credit guys failed to explain that a 2-10-N30 is worth a 37.24% Annual Rate of Return…where else can you get 37.24% return with no risk?  


The Problem: 

There are several problems with early pay discounts:

First, business customers sometimes will issue a check for payment on an invoice, less the 2%, on the the 10th day, but will not release the check until the 30th day or the 60th day thus defeating the very reason why the discount was offered in the first place.

Second, the taking of “unauthorized discounts” by the business customer by failing to pay within the 10 days creates additional work and cost for both the distributor and the business customer in the pursuit of the unearned discount. And this in turn can actually lead to the loss of customer good will and of future Sales.

I’ve never liked 2-10-N30 terms for these reasons.

The Best of MPCs and Early Pay Discounts

There is a way to use an early pay discount to improve cash flow and also bring business customers back to buy again thus gaining the most profitable sale, the repeat sale.

Instead of offering a 2-10-N30 term, a distributor can send out, along with an invoice, a VCDC; A Valued Customer Discount Certificate for 2% of the invoice amount…and they can put the selling company’s CEO’s picture or the selling salesperson’s picture on the certificate…or Marilyn Monroe’s picture.

Each VCDC would carry the same # as the invoice it applies to and thus would be easy to track.

The VCDC would clearly state that if the invoice that the VCDC applies to must be  paid within 10 days of the invoice date for the customer to use the VCDC on their next purchase.

If a business customer pays within 15 days..they should be cut some slack and the VCDC accepted…on that next and most profitable purchase, the repeat. 

The end result: Improved cash flow and repeat sales. 

All too often in business we walk a mental rut, we do the same thing over and over again in the same way, until the rut becomes a mental trench and then we think we can see the horizon for oncoming danger or new business opportunities when in effect all we really see is a wall. And that’s not to say that a trench can’t be comfortable and easy to navigate, but God help you if things change and the walls give way. 

During this time of slow sales and extended delays in business credit customers’ payments, manufacturers can add value to their distributors by sharing with them an old idea reborn anew on how to gain a competitve advantage while improving cash flow and  repeat sales.

If you like this post, please share with your friends.


STAFDA Convention-Phoenix

November 2, 2010

For those of you that are going to Phoenix this weekend for the STAFDA Show, we put together an Insider’s Guide to Phoenix by asking friends and business associates about gems in the city that you might not be aware of. It includes Restaurants, Nightlife, Events and more. It’s available at www.sonnhalter.com/stafda

We hope you have a good show.



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