The View

It’s “that” time again
Welcome to March! I don’t know about you all, but I am excited to be starting “Trade Show Season” with Coffee Fest New York, NCA New Orleans, NAMA One Chicago, and SCAA Seattle all in the next eight weeks. For me, these shows give me energy and insight. To quote this month’s “Industry Giant” Jack Newall (see page 18), in coffee “relationships go far beyond just relationships, some people become like family.” After 20 years, each show has become a “family reunion” where stories are exchanged, relationships renewed, and ideas abound. Frankly I cannot fathom the ability to produce a quality trade journal without these regular collaborations. There simply is no substitute for the face-to-face interaction and the creative synergy that comes from conferences and exhibitions.

Unique Personality
Each show presents its own unique opportunity to connect with a different audience in a different way. I love Coffee Fest as the best opportunity to connect with the largest amount of retailers and soon to be retailers this country has to offer. NCA gives me access to the leaders of the industry in an intimate and meaningful way and a preview/reading of where the industry is and the major areas of concern. NAMA One provides some of the best educational and most organized and impressive visual presentations available today and the only way to reach the growing OCS marketplace. And SCAA is the largest gathering of international coffee professionals with a multitude of networking opportunities and some quality education.

On the Inside
These shows are often the only way to access to the latest news, trends, and industry knowledge from first-hand sources. For example, I am anxious to learn where the NCA is in its search for new leadership. I can’t wait to preview the New Products about to hit the streets at Coffee Fest and talk with the retailers who are actually in the trenches to find out their greatest fears and how we can help address them. NAMA has consistently provided some of the best sales training I have ever seen at coffee related conferences. In fact I discovered our Marketing Miracles columnist, Mike Dabadie, (see page 20) at a fantastic presentation at Nashville at NAMA’s Coffee Tea and Water conference just last year.

Do YOU feel heard?
That brings me to SCAA. It is this conference that brings me the most trepidation. To quote Michael Kelly of Quality Brokerage, “Effective communication is one of the most important and utilized skills in business.” (see page 20). But what happens when communications fail? What happens when we feel unheard? That is what I fear is happening at the SCAA. Communication happens when both parties feel heard and understood. Yet over the last several months I have heard and continue to hear abundant concerns from SCAA members, including Past Presidents, that leadership and staff may have lost touch with member needs and interests. Granted this represents maybe 20-30 companies with which I have had personal communication on the issue, however, that leads me to believe there are more out there. The real question is, do you feel heard? Do you feel your company is being served by the SCAA?

Solution is OUR Responsibility
Change is never easy. It takes time, energy, tenacity. It requires people who are willing to work hard and hang in there against the odds until change becomes habit. Personally I am supporting Marty Curtis for 2nd VP and encourage you to read his letter on page 16 to learn more about this candidate who I believe will work endlessly to help the association become more transparent and responsive to member needs. However, every member needs to make his or her own choice. Please take the time today to familiarize yourself with the candidates and make your choice by VOTING.

Remember, we ONLY have power if we CHOOSE to use it.

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