Representor Spring 2024 - Executive Commentary


What gets measured, gets done

Walter Tobin, ERA CEO

by Walter E. Tobin, ERA CEO

So, here we all are in our new and different venue at EDS — Resorts World! It is such a wonderful property, shiny and bright, with plenty of outside light and windows — a rarity in Vegas, I am told, where there are typically almost no clocks or windows to let folks know the time of day.

Our attendees cannot be fooled. They all know the day/hour/minute of their time at EDS. The investment in both time and treasure that each attendee makes to participate at EDS makes it critical that every second is productive.

Many of you had been asking for EDS to look at a new venue after several years at the Mirage. Even though this new venue was dropped into our laps late in the game, we will all be pleasantly surprised at the newness and freshness of the venue; more restaurants, more places for breakfast/lunch, a Starbucks…and windows!

When EDS Show Management was informed that the Mirage was not able to accommodate our 3,000-plus attendees, it sprang into action and sought out another property that could accommodate us in an unheard-of lead time of 90 days! Most conferences like EDS are booked 2-3 years out into the future. Your EDS team was able to find and contract with Resorts World in 45 days!

Some of us may have run into a few logistical issues as EDS Show Management helped the Resorts World property navigate their way into managing EDS. Our show has some unique nuances: the need of suites for meetings; finding hotel rooms for 3,000 attendees, providing security for the show, helping our attendees with lunch and dinner reservations and last-minute requests due to the fast pace of EDS.

I applaud both EDS Show Management and Resorts World for making EDS 2024 a reality! We are truly lucky to even have EDS this year due to the short timelines and huge logistics required to put on this great show.

I expect that there may still be a few “learning curve” issues while here. Let’s all try to be a bit patient with both EDS Show Management and Resorts World. A new venue will always mean some challenges — but let us help them so they can help us.

Here are some of my takeaways from the annual ERA Conference held in Austin on Feb 25–27:

• The thirst for knowledge from our attendees remains insatiable! We had a total of 14 hours of educational content at our general sessions and unique breakout sessions over two days and, based on the results of the post-conference survey, they wanted more!

• The economic climate remains somewhat uncertain with excess inventory rapidly coming down, and a hopeful return to a positive book-to-bill ratio. However, our attendees remain bullish on the overall electronics segment asking: “What other industry would you rather be in? None!”

• Finding, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and keeping early-career individuals remains a high priority with all of our company attendees. We must continue to “restock the pond” in order to have our companies remain viable in the future.

• Artificial intelligence—boy, did we talk about AI! There were two sold-out sessions on AI. Our attendees just cannot get enough of it. Now, all of us need to learn how to use it to grow our businesses and remain ahead of our competition.

• Data. We are swimming in data. But what good is it if it is not current and in a usable format? How can we use the reams of data in NBOs, POS, leads and quotes to monitor and drive our companies?

• Our procurement and engineering customers have changed forever! But have we? Do we know how they want us to interact with them versus how we want to interface with them? When all else fails, listen to the customer. They are your True North—listen to them.

• Succession plans. Does your organization have a succession plan in place? Do your employees know what it is? There was so much to absorb and all of us left Austin upbeat and perhaps better equipped to face the future. But we need to take action now on what we’ve learned. As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets done.”

What will you be measuring at EDS and during 2024?

Inquiring minds want to know, and your manufacturers, reps, distributors, customers and employees need to hear from you. Do not make them guess. They may guess wrong and cost you a manufacturer, key employee or customer.