by Gordon Weiler, VP of Sales
As usual, NFPA surpassed all previous summit expectations. Eric Lanke and the NFPA Staff offered outstanding meeting accommodations along with equally impressive speakers about leadership, understanding distributor profitability, the Internet of Things (IOT) in fluid power, and my personal favorite, Peter Zeihan's geopolitical presentation titled Life After Free Trade.
If you have never heard of Zeihan, it's worth your time to check out some of his YouTube talks regarding global energy and trade. Life After Free Trade begins with a description of the monumental Bretton Woods Agreement, which in 1944 led to the establishment of free trade. Zeihan goes on to explain the challenges for the United States as one of the least internationally involved nations and breaks down the demographic and geographic rationale behind recent political changes that could lead to another dramatic shift in international economic relations. As fluid power professionals in a demand-driven industry, staying knowledgeable about global economic trends is a must and Life After Free Trade is an excellent resource.
Another presentation more specific to the fluid power industry was The Internet of Things for Fluid Power by Jeremy Drury. In his presentation, Drury emphasized the need to "build the bridge" between manufacturers and consumers, shifting from the standard product-driven attitude to a more inclusive relationship-driven strategy. Using this more personalized approach to driving sales, manufacturers can place greater value in technological advances that, in turn, provide more accurate consumer intel. This greater understanding of what the consumer wants can help manufacturers more easily provide a better, more personalized experience for them in the end.
While the presentations are a real highlight of the conference, the strongest return for me and for Daman Products comes from the networking opportunities at this event. It’s always great to catch up and connect with colleagues in the fluid power industry. Meaningful discussions, both personal and professional, help me to gauge and deepen relationships and mutual growth strategies for the year.
These discussions carried over into an extraordinary dinner, graciously hosted by our top vendors, Alro Steel and Dura-Bar and appropriately named The Iron Man Dinner. This year marked the 11th annual Iron Man Dinner where attendees are mainly comprised of manifold manufacturers. Yes, direct product competitors joined together to enjoy an evening of networking and conversing about our businesses for the common good of fluid power. I have always believed that there is enough business out there for us all; it is always in our best interest to collaborate with our distributors and competitors to find the best solutions for our thriving market and its future opportunity for innovation.