Azione’s Fall Symposium A Forum for Group Goal-Setting
Not a minute was misspent at the ‘Sharing Symposium’ for the new educational/buying group Azione Unlimited at Houston’s Westin Galleria Hotel Nov. 5 and 6. The organization’s second formal gathering since it was founded earlier this year afforded attendees from its 56 member integrators and vendors the chance over slightly more than 24 hours to further crystallize aspirations set out at the inaugural August meeting in St. Louis, all while they did business, shared success stories and strategies and relaxed as they networked over food and drink.
Azione president Richard Glikes told attendees he has set a near-term goal of 75 members by year’s end; the mix includes (and is limited to) 30 vendors. Of the current member composition, eight of 10 dealers had never been in a buying group, 84 percent are integrators, and 27 percent do more than $5 million in business yearly. Long term, the target is 250 members, he said. “It’s not how much business you do, it’s how much money you make,” he told those present. “Volume has no significance here; we’re all equals.”
Idea-sharing methods consisted of round tables touching on how to make labor more profitable, and on the hidden costs of doing business. Open discussions touched on topics as diverse as how dealers can work with vendors to perform more effectively and make more money, and on the validity of the manufacturers’ rep model to this stripe of dealer. A multi-vendor panel also aired views on what the attributes of a “best dealer” are.
A particular highlight was the presentations of four members, who synopsized some of their most effective marketing strategies:
• CEO John Carlen of Denver’s ESC/Thul told of how he successfully generated additional business in the Denver market, expanding from principally doing projects in Apsen and Vail, with the recent opening of a downtown Denver-based Experience Center. He said the Center, which has drawn 500 visitors thus far, affords him the chance to do events and focus on presenting design versus equipment to his target audience of interior designers, builders and architects, because “architects and interior designers hate equipment.” He currently holds two or more events per week there, and said that 2012 revenues were on target to match his 2014 business plan. “We’ve had new-project startups every week from those 500 visitors,” he said.