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> Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead … safely


by Walter E. Tobin
T: 617-901-4088

Like most of us, we are all just “over this.” We are ready to put behind us the many restrictions around masks, social distancing, fist bumps, elbow bumps, vaccination cards, talk of booster shots and on and on.

Don’t get me wrong: I am vaccinated and will get my booster jab the day I am eligible. I want to be SAFE. I want my family safe. I want our great ERA National staff safe. I want all of our ERA members (and not-yet-members) safe. I want the whole world safe. So we are able to do our jobs, to reconnect with our customers IN PERSON, to see each other, to just get back on with our work and personal lives, but in a safe environment.

Covid-19 (This is the ONLY time I will use this word in this update!) has tried all of us now for almost two years! Can you believe it? Who would have thought that we would still be dealing with this for so long? Yet, here we are … like seeing ourselves in a revolving door.

We have recently seen EDS rescheduled from May 2021 out to August 2021, then only to be canceled. We have also seen ECIA cancel their conference in October for the second year in a row — most unfortunate for all of us who look forward to attending it each year.

So, what lies ahead of us? When and how will we get back to a bit of normalcy in our personal and professional lives?

We started to see many of our customers beginning to open and accept visitors — our great Road Warriors who work hard to deliver both samples and information to our design engineers and procurement professionals. They, too, were tired of Zoom calls and the work-from-home environment. Some are actually describing it as “living at work” — perhaps a better, but sad, description of today’s times.

Suddenly, it all stopped and we began to revert to a life of a year ago, argh! We were all yanked back by a huge choke-chain that said: “Wait a minute, not so fast, folks!”

So here we are … ready to dig out our “work costumes,” shiny shoes, starched shirts and blouses, creased suits, fresh haircuts, suitcases dug out and reprovisioned with amenities for hotel stays, our airport travel clothes at the ready. We are all crouched at the starting line on a track just waiting for the starter gun to go off, and then, crickets …

However, hope is on the horizon. Booster shots are being readied, airports are slowly reopening to international travel, our favorite coffee shops and restaurants are slowly restaffing and ready to tempt all of us with “healthy” airport food. We can’t wait!

We just concluded our first annual Virtual Sales Training event – a three-day event that incorporated eleven hours of professional sales training. This training was a result of many of our members asking ERA to provide a virtual platform for those sales folks who may never be able to attend our annual conference in Austin. These are our frontline sales experts who work tirelessly each day to deliver excellent sales and technical guidance to their customers. They are also our sales managers, branch managers, regional vice presidents and owners of tomorrow. This training also offered them a fuller picture of ERA and the benefits that our members realize each and every day.

Also on the horizon is our Virtual Chapter Officer Leadership Training (COLT) annual training — Nov. 3 – 5, 2021. This event was always conducted in person in Chicago but was canceled in 2020 due to the “you know what.” While we would love to see everyone in person, the virtual setting will make it easier for all of our chapters to “send” their present and future chapter leaders to COLT to learn from their peers best practices on chapter management.

These are two major initiatives conducted in a virtual format out of concern for the safety of our attendees.

However, mark your calendars: Feb. 27 – March 1, 2022, for the ERA Conference that will be held IN PERSON in Austin.

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

We are fully committed to holding this event in a safe environment for our staff and attendees. I am very optimistic that we will be able to conduct our conference in person and safely. We have booked the larger and new Zlotnik Ballroom and adjacent meeting rooms that will allow us to accommodate over 500 attendees in a safe and relaxed environment.

Your conference committee of over 50 volunteers is working hard to deliver another GREAT conference – chock full of real and tangible takeaways to help you manage and grow your business.

Registration and sponsor information is available on our website at

All of us are SO READY to be back IN PERSON. The last electronics industry IN PERSON event was our own ERA Conference in February 2020. Come help us celebrate seeing each other two years later in February 2022. None of us have gotten any older!

Leave your business costumes at home. Our events are casual and fun. Join us to learn from each other, from our great keynote and general session speakers, and our unique breakout sessions format.

So, FULL SPEED AHEAD! ERA will be protecting you from any torpedoes thrown your way. See you all in February in Austin.

Your ERA Ship’s Captain speaking …

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