I have been attending EDPA’s ACCESS Conference since 2006. While I have been in the industry much longer, I could never quite justify the cost to go. When I started a new company in 2001, justification was even tougher. But by 2006, I was feeling like I needed to be more connected with the whole industry, not just the few local suppliers and competitors I talked with on a regular basis.
I realized that if I went to ACCESS, in one place would be all of the major industry suppliers, and many of my competitors. I saw that as a good thing – a chance to meet and talk with a lot of fellow business owners who were having some of the same issues I was. Little did I know…
In the first year I met a lot of people, owners from all over the country, and all over the world. While we were competitors by trade, we were more like compatriots in our own world. We talked about a lot of the same challenges, and shared a lot of ideas.
Two months after returning from the conference, my company began working with a client who had one show in Geneva, Switzerland. My first call was to Robert Campbell, at the time with Uniplan in Bern, Switzerland. We partnered with his team for a number of years on that show. If I had not met Robert at EDPA ACCESS, I’m not sure how we would have handled the show.
In 2009, we began working with a large agricultural firm who did a lot of outdoor shows in both the US and in Canada. One call to Cam Stevens at Stevens E3 in London, Ontario, and I had a partner for all of the Canadian shows. Again, through contacts at ACCESS, we were able to serve our clients very well.
Could I have served these clients shows in Switzerland and Canada had I not met these guys at ACCESS? Certainly. I would have figured it out. But because of the opportunities I had to meet and get to know these guys at ACCESS, I had complete trust in their ability, and knew going in that we were working with a strong partner.
It’s not just about serving our clients, but also about the chance to expand your circle of friends and advisors in the industry. We’re all in this business together, and from what I’ve seen at EDPA ACCESS, we’re all in it to help everyone be successful.