Print+Promo's Distributor Connect Returns to In-Person Format in San Diego
The last 19 months have been tough for print and promo professionals. This is an industry that thrives on relationships — many of which start with a handshake. That simple gesture often leads to continued talks, lunches with colleagues (who feel more like friends) and toasts to the future. The pandemic upended those routines. When travel and maskless interaction came to an abrupt halt, it was almost a shock to the system for sales road warriors.
Technology helped to fill some of those gaps. As a way to promote connections, Print+Promo, along with sister brand Promo Marketing, took its respective Distributor Connect and Power Meetings online in the form of Back to Business Meetings. Now, five virtual events later, Print+Promo finally got the chance to welcome supplier sponsors and distributor attendees to its first in-person Distributor Connect since 2019.
The event, which took place at San Diego’s Hyatt Regency Mission Bay on Nov. 3-5, featured the same intimate format participants have come to love over the years — with COVID safety measures in place. Unlike traditional trade shows, where face time with suppliers is nearly impossible to get, Distributor Connect provides a setting that allows industry peers to brainstorm and solve common pain points. (For those in need of a refresher of what that entails, check out our Distributor Connect cheat sheet.)
It has worked well for returning supplier Ward-Kraft Inc., who was happy to meet with new people and reacquaint with existing customers.
“Distributor Connect is a wonderful way to connect with distributors,” said Kim Mesplay, sales rep for Ward-Kraft Inc. “I value this venue a lot more than a typical trade show. The 20 minutes you get with each customer is so valuable. You can talk about specific projects and ideas, and also get to know each other better. The meals and social events are so nice to visit outside of business. … This event is by far the best in the industry.”
The format is also a selling point for Rob Jones, vice president of HCF Inc. “The personal one-on-one time that we get to spend with everyone that attends is invaluable,” he said. “This format works great for all.”
On the distributor side, similar themes permeated the meetings.
“The Print+Promo Distributor Connect in San Diego was outstanding,” said Ron Weaver, president of Weaver Associates Inc. “The format meeting with vendors individually is the way to go. The private sessions gave each party a way to learn about how we could work together for future partnerships and most of all new ideas to take to the market.”
Now more than ever, distributors are looking to get business done. The Distributor Connect – San Diego event sparked creativity for apg group owner Arlene Packles, who learned “so much” during her 20-minute meetings, in addition to the built-in breakfast, lunch and offsite dinner networking opportunities.
“Mostly, I met with some new [suppliers] whose products I can't wait to start introducing to my existing clients, and what great ideas I got to reach out to get new business,” she enthused. “… Looking forward to seeing you all again and reporting on all the new business I hope to get from what I gleamed from this conference.”
Jim Hanika and Anita Shina, Esq., the husband-and-wife team who co-own Proforma Amplified, are excited to put these solutions into practice as well.
“Anita and I loved the event and learned a lot,” Hanika said. “Nice to bring home a couple of great ideas!”
Reservations are now open for 2022 events. Dates are:
- May 11-13, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- Nov. 2-4, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Make your new year more meaningful with a Distributor Connect event. They’re the place to be, but don’t just take our word for it.
“I thought the Distributor Connect was a top-tier event,” said Gordon Klepec, chief sales officer at SOLV. “From the attentiveness of the staff and the well-timed and thought-out events to the quality suppliers that were on-hand, I think this is a ‘don't-miss’ event for 2022.”
If you are interested in attending an upcoming Distributor Connect, contact Mike Cooper via email at email@example.com, or call (215) 238-5434. For event information and testimonials, visit connect.goprintandpromo.com.
Print+Promo is also accepting contracts for these events from new suppliers. To learn more, contact Jim Harvie at firstname.lastname@example.org or (856) 404-5448.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.