By Adam Keane, NTEA President
Executive Vice-President, Allied Body Works Inc. (Seattle, Washington)
This article was published in the December 2017 edition of NTEA News.
Have you ever heard someone from an NTEA member company say: “I love The Work Truck Show® but only go once every two to three years; this frequency is all that’s needed for me to pick up the highlights”? While I’ve never found this to be true, I occasionally heard comments like this 10 years ago. I’m encouraged by the fact I no longer get this feedback. As The Work Truck Show has matured into Work Truck Week, I can’t imagine missing a year’s worth of content. Now, it seems like even nonmember companies consider this event their anchor trade show of the year.
Allied Body Works Inc. is a traditional truck equipment distributor — a family-owned, primarily regional operation. Our NTEA membership delivers a multitude of significant benefits. First and foremost, NTEA’s Work Truck Show gives us the opportunity to network with other companies within the industry. Building friendships with peers from around the globe has provided my team with valuable insight, advice, opportunities and fun. Developing professional relationships comes with a minor drawback: an already-busy week becomes even busier. Somehow, we continue to find ways to squeeze more into our agenda and make it work. As North America’s largest work truck event, it’s the best place to network — industry peers and our valuable business partners are there.
Competing for time, the majority of our vendors have embraced the Work Truck Week mentality. They recognize their distribution network is consistently in attendance. For this reason, many host off-site meetings or presentations. These focused meetings are extremely valuable; we’re able to see our partners face-to-face and hear about the dynamics that will affect us in the year ahead.
With vim and vigor, we leave partner meetings to visit the exhibit hall, where we’re able to see the new industry offerings in one place. To make the most of the experience, my team puts a plan together with different goals outlined for each day. The first time our company representatives walk the exhibit hall, they tend to meet with current supplier partners who do not have independent meetings. Setting up booth appointments helps the exhibitor and my team ensure efficiency and availability. The next day is spent scouring the exhibit hall for new and exciting things. Reviewing NTEA’s New Product Spotlight helps, but my team is tasked with exploring the entire exhibit hall to find products or information that might benefit our company (i.e., exciting innovation or previously overlooked concepts). Inspecting the exhibit hall requires a comprehensive team effort — especially on top of the training sessions we attend earlier in the day.
Educational programming is a big reason why we attend each year. Empowering my team to think outside the box is something I want to consistently prioritize. From my perspective, Work Truck Show education provides a comfortable space to take the content presented and come up with creative ideas to improve our business operations. There is a lot of information available. Sometimes, selecting a session and identifying ways to apply the ideas to our business can seem overwhelming. In each session, I focus on development and finding at least one practical takeaway.
Another perk of attending The Work Truck Show is the opportunity to experience this week with our customers. When our customers attend, we have their undivided attention to share the knowledge we’ve gained through other industry connections. Getting their feedback on the products displayed and information shared is incredibly valuable. As 2018 approaches, we are encouraging more of our customers than ever before to attend The Work Truck Show, and I urge you to do the same. I find that first-time attendees tend to be blown away by the many learning opportunities and sheer magnitude of the displays.
The President’s Breakfast & NTEA Annual Meeting (on Thursday of Work Truck Week) is especially impressive to first-time attendees. This particular gathering has become another can’t-miss opportunity for my team. Given my involvement on NTEA’s Board, I’m aware of all the Association does for our industry. Bringing the industry together at the President’s Breakfast gives everyone a chance to hear highlights of the year’s accomplishments and NTEA’s focus areas moving forward. In addition, attendees enjoy the always-surprising entertainment factor and guest speakers. This March, I’m eager to hear from General Michael Hayden (a retired four-star general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency). Some of you may remember the 2017 keynote presentation where I interviewed Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long — a fun but nerve-racking experience.
I’ve outlined what Work Truck Week means to me and my team; I hope you share my enthusiasm for this great event and plan to join me in Indianapolis, March 6–9, 2018. I’d love to connect.