Representor Winter 2019 - Feature Article

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Join ERA to celebrate the past and prepare to embrace what the future holds!

It is hard to believe that the 2019 ERA Conference is right around the corner. We will again be returning to the AT&T Conference Center, on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, from Feb. 24-26. This year’s conference is going to be very special, and I hope that you can be part of it.

So, what makes the 2019 ERA Conference so special?

You can certainly expect the same fundamentals that have made past conferences such a great return on investment: great content, great best practices and great networking.

Content: The 2019 ERA Conference will share an array of thought-provoking topics that are extremely relative to your business. These topics will be presented by a broad, and balanced list of knowledgeable speakers with experience from both inside and outside our industry.

Best practices: The conference will offer attendees the opportunity to share experiences in an intimate and collaborative exchange of ideas that represent the best practices in our industry.

Networking: As always, the ERA Conference will offer attendees the opportunity to network with fellow industry executives.

However, what makes the 2019 ERA Conference so special is that this year, we are commemorating ERA’s 50th conference, a significant milestone that deserves to be celebrated in honor of the people who have laid the foundation of ERA to help make it into the successful organization that it is today.

As such, the 2019 conference program is designed around the theme “Celebrate the Past, Embrace Tomorrow.”

I would like to point out that this is not ERA’s 50th year in existence. In fact, many of you may not know that ERA was established in 1935 and is one of the oldest associations in our industry. ERA has been promoting the independent field sales function and our industry as a whole since the advent of electronics. So, in addition to offering another year of great conference fundamentals, this year, we celebrate the rich history of ERA and the 49 prior conferences.

Although there are plenty of reasons for a celebratory fever to be present throughout the conference, it will not be purely retrospective; on the contrary, as the conference theme proclaims, we are gathering to celebrate the past and embrace tomorrow.

The conference planning committee has constructed a diverse menu of forward-looking topics that are affecting, or may soon be affecting how manufacturers’ representatives, manufacturers, and distributors deliver on their appropriate roles in the sales process.

Therefore, the 2019 ERA 50th Anniversary Conference is designed to be an amalgamation of past, present and future in order to create an experience that is both productive and commemorative.

Speaking of the Conference Planning Committee, I must recognize the platoon of professional reps, manufacturers, and distributors who volunteered their time, experience and expertise in order to create the content for this year’s conference. Under the supervision of ERA’s events coordinator, Erin Collins and CEO, Walter Tobin, the conference was planned by a core committee of 12, and four sub-committees of 30 professional rep, manufacturer and distributor executives. The superb quality of the 2019 ERA Conference is a direct reflection of this group’s dedication in giving back to ERA and our industry, and I am incredibly grateful for their contributions.

If you have neglected to register for this very special ERA Conference, I strongly encourage you to do so at

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join your executive peers in recognizing our industry’s past, being part of the present, and gathering insight as to what the future looks like for you and your organization. As if this alone was not rewarding enough, make sure that you are part of ERA’s celebration of our 50th conference, our industry, and the role that this conference has played in educating the past, present and future professionals in our industry.

Conference program

The industry is changing rapidly and ERA’s 50th Anniversary Conference will address ways that you and your business need to redefine, adapt, change and transform in order to be successful in the future.

The conference dynamic educational program is designed to answer the questions: Where has the electronics industry gone in the past few years? Where is the industry going? How to adapt and change to be ready for what tomorrow brings?

General sessions and breakout seminars

The 2019 conference agenda will feature an intensely practical and informative presentation “Can I Have Your Attention? Reach the Distracted Customer” by Keynote Speaker, Curt Steinhorst, distraction expert and bestselling author of the book “Can I Have Your Attention? Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace.” The presentation will discuss the great challenges we face in a constantly-connected world. Steinhorst pulls back the curtain to reveal: How did we get here? What counterintuitive communication methods can we use to surprise and delight customers who have had everything thrown at them? What shifts in behavior and expectations must we conform to before we have any chance of reaching them? How can we leverage our customers’ distracted state to communicate more effectively with them?

Other general sessions include:

“I See What You Are Thinking: The Power of Nonverbal Communication” will feature a presentation by Linda Clemons, CEO of Sisterpreneur Inc. This highly interactive presentation will focus on how to master nonverbal communications skills to maximize leaders’ and business owners’ effectiveness and increase sales.

“Our Disruptive Future Economy – An Economic, Financial, and Technology Outlook” will feature a presentation by Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics and chairman of The Futurist Institute. Schenker will discuss how the future of the economy, markets and technology impact people’s professional, personal and investing lives. The presentation will include a mix of short-term economic and financial market dynamics, as well as a discussion of longer-term technological factors that present disruptive risks.

“Technology in the Roaring 20s: How the tech party rages on in the 2020s” will feature a presentation by Michael Knight, president of TTI Semiconductor Group (TSG) and senior vice president Corporate Business Development, TTI Inc. Knight’s highly intriguing presentation will focus on the development of fundamentally new technology that is transforming the electronics that populate our world. According to Knight, this new tech, from materials to devices, is in the process of being commercialized and will begin showing up in the world in the 2020s, driving the next significant, long-term surge in our industry.

“The Constant Client: Building Relationships Your Competition Can’t Steal!” by Tim Wackel, founder and president of the Wackel Group. This general session will offer attendees a simple three-step process for building better relationships; tips for creating more success with people – even the ones you just don’t like; how to focus more on being interested and worry less about being interesting; new ways to stand out and become someone who is memorable; and six principles for taking existing relationships from good to great.

Further emphasizing the conference theme, the program will feature 16 different Breakout Sessions, offering attendees practical business, legal, management and marketing information for reps, manufacturers and distributors. 2019 conference breakouts include:

• Delivering a Powerful Supply Chain Customer Experience in Today’s Complex Environment
• Design Registration Tune Up
• Diversity in the Workplace: What Men and Women Leaders Need to Know!
• A Dose of (Immersive – Virtual/Augmented/Mixed) Reality: The New Paradigm – What You Need to Know Now Before It Is Too Late
• Fundamentals of Blockchain and Its Impact on the Electronics Industry
• Getting Your Message to the Customer
• How Manufacturers’ Reps, Manufacturers and Distributors Can Implement a Simple Strategy to Produce Sales Qualified Leads Every Month
• Increase Profitability by Selling EMS to Your Existing Customers
• Negotiate Like a Champion and Stop the Race to Zero
• The Profile of the Manufacturers’ Rep Company of the Future
• The Profile of the Salesperson of the Future
• Selling More Through Data Analytics: Utilizing Today’s Tools and Recognizing Tomorrow’s
• Standing Firm: Reps Deserve to Get Paid
• Stop Pitching, Start Solving: Helping Customers Discover What They Really Want
• Supporting Your Team from Inside and Out
• What Got Me Here, Won’t Get Me There

Conference highlights

In addition to the information-packed agenda, the conference will offer attendees a variety of networking opportunities. On Sunday, Feb. 24, ERA has reserved a number of morning tee times at the Grey Rock Golf Club for a pre-conference golf. Later on Sunday, the conference will open with a Welcome Reception. The conference 50th Anniversary Party will be held at Max’s Wine Dive on Monday, Feb. 25.

We look forward to seeing you at ERA’s 50th Anniversary Conference this February!

John Hutson, CPMR
MacInnis Group

John Hutson, CPMR, is president of MacInnis Group and 2019 ERA Conference committee chair. He joined MacInnis in 1992. Prior to that, he held a sales engineer position at the Tyco Printed Circuit Group.

Hutson has held numerous New England Chapter level positions, is presently chapter president and has been involved on the past two ERA conference committees. He has a B.A. from Syracuse University, and an M.A. from Wesleyan University.

During his free time, John enjoys skiing in the winter, golfing in the summer and travels year-round.

Hutson can be reached at, or at 781-762-5059.