Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

Volume 44,  Issue 6                                        July/August  2005

     AMD Headlines
         In the News

Conventions...Trade Shows...Why Bother?
A Few Reasons to Make Attending Worthwhile
by Dan Barber

If your schedule has been anything like mine for 2005, this has been a busy year and the extra work of year end is right around the corner. Why go to another convention when, after all, it’s always the same old thing and sometimes a little boring? If that echoes your thoughts, the real problem may be you. 

Yes, I am aware that in recent years the trend has been for fewer business professionals in all industries to attend conventions and trade shows, and I’m not sure of all the reasons for that. But, for me, attending the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) Annual Convention has become a real plus. 

If you haven’t attended recently you could be on the losing end. I don’t believe this convention is about seeing some new or “best ever” product, but about building relationships with peers and improving relationships with business partners and suppliers. It is also an opportunity to participate in education sessions that relate to all areas of our businesses. 

I approach each convention with the goal of meeting with all of our suppliers (not just to view their exhibits, which I do enjoy) but also with the goal of discussing with them how we can partner to do a better job for both of our businesses. You see, I know I am not the smartest person there, but if I can learn just a little from each meeting and how to apply it to our situation, I know we can improve our business, which should be our goal and will justify the time and expense of attending. 

My next goal is to apply the same principle to get to know as many of my peers as possible, because it’s through discussing various issues and ideas with others that we can learn the most. The membership of AMD is so broad that we can benefit from these personal relationships by sharing ideas and interests and by having someone else in the industry act as a sounding board or resource for issues common to us all. 

In my opinion, the educational program of the convention has grown and improved the most in recent years. The AMD leadership has refocused on the needs of its members and attempted to have industry leaders address common concerns and relevant issues for us. Just last year AMD had sessions on raw material supply: sales, marketing, employment and benefit issues, current and proposed building codes and legislative issues which affect us all. Where else could I have gone for one day and covered such a broad spectrum of business issues? 

As I was writing this article, I received a telephone call from a person taking a survey on why executives are not attending industry trade shows as frequently as they once did. How appropriate, I thought. Of course I do not have the answer—although we all could probably provide a few reasons—but I will end with this: you miss the AMD Annual Convention this October, you will be missing an opportunity to better yourself and your company. The old adage still applies: “You get out of anything only to the measure of what you are personally willing to put into it.” 

Thanks for listening to me spout my personal opinion. I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans this October 6-11th, where we will be “Jazzin’ it Up!”

For more information on the AMD 42nd Annual Convention visit the AMD website  at

Dan Barber is vice president, finance and administration, for Barnett Millwork and treasurer of AMD. 

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