After attending what I believe is my 21st consecutive NAED Annual Meeting, I noticed much has changed over the years. For example, the consolidation of both distributors and manufacturers has made this conference a constantly changing landscape. But one very specific (positive) change stood out in my mind during this conference: our industry has finally recognized that we must put a greater focus on attracting and retaining young talent. This was a topic that came up in many presentations and almost every discussion.
Bob Reynolds, Chairman, President and CEO of Graybar, spoke convincingly about the need to embrace the concept of attracting young people to our industry. He made a very compelling argument that it is critical to our industry’s future that we must all do a better job developing talent to fill the leadership pipeline. Further, Bob pointed out that we must recognize changing workplace trends and harness those opportunities to better ourselves and our companies (Facebook? /Twitter?/Flexible Hours?/etc.). He reminded us that we need to understand that the next generation doesn’t even understand electrical distribution; much less whether they would want to work in this industry (it certainly isn’t as romantic as working at Apple or Google).
Eli Lustgarten, senior vice president of Longbow Securities gave a good long-term guesstimate of where our market opportunities are headed. With a PowerPoint of over 100 slides, there was much more economic data than any one person could consume. He told a very humorous story about someone trying to get a loan from the FHA. Too long a story to tell here, but it showed that regardless of who is in power in Washington, bureaucracy takes on a life of its own.
Charlie Cook, the political analyst who spoke next, gave a wonderful presentation on the upcoming election and politics in general. It was balanced and not partisan. His discussion was entertaining and avoided the easy, cheap shots towards either party or candidate. It was a lively discussion that illustrated and explained in a humorous way our current political landscape, without taking sides.
SO HERE IS MY POINT: