That was a very fine expo and educational agenda that the NAFA Fleet Management Association produced this year in Minneapolis — even the weather cooperated. Every attendee, no matter what their primary duties are back home at their office, should feel satisfied that their registration dollars brought them value throughout the entire conference.
Even though I have been critical (constructively so, I hope) in past years, after a good deal of thought, it occurs to me that NAFA needs strong continued support from the entire industry. Yes, we (Automotive Fleet), with our accelerated frequency of disseminating news, and the major suppliers need to provide the push NAFA needs to maintain its responsiveness to the fleet community.
Remembering the circumstances in the early years usually occurs at this kind of function, which, in turn, relates to the "formative years" of NAFA with close friends like Ray Breault (then fleet manager at Roche pharma and now, for many years, with Fleet Response), Al Cavalli, and a handful of others. Breault always reminds me of the informal (mostly monthly) meetings we held at the (then) Book Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit.
This was 55 to 60 years ago. The official meetings were short in time and someone, such as Breault, would help me put a plank across a few chairs for a workable bar, a pillowcase on the plank, and I worked out of the closet bartending for the attendees. Sam Lee or one of the OEMs would say a few words, and it became a night to remember.
I'm prompted in mentioning the pattern of the group because it was fun and nearly devoid of heavy lifting with complex issues. Some things change, other things, not so much. Specifically, looking down NAFA's expo aisle, a long one with many new exhibitors joining the old ones, I was told that just before 3:00 p.m., there wasn't anyone but exhibitors in the aisle.
Knowing the expense connected to floor "show time," the thought pulled at my heart. Our events team at Bobit produces more than a dozen shows and conferences each year; it's a tough business to try to balance the right kind of exhibitor, even knowing the profiles of the attendees. This year, I believe that Phil Russo, NAFA's top guy, pulled every rabbit out of his proverbial hat with a zillion promos, e-mails, contests, and even scratch-off dollar-winning tickets. Still the empty aisles, which is another for the books.
I know that there was good activity. But, I'm sure Phil kept scratching his head on how to make that second day a value. Maybe it's like the education part of the puzzle. At some point there is a group who has sincerely felt that they "know it all" and do not need to walk the aisle.
I can assure you that every moment you can learn more, save your company money, and feel better equipped to face tomorrow if you choose the exercise.