DLI-NCA Cooperative Event Offers Information Exchange, Networking Opportunities
By John Paul Roggenkamp
The 2018 Five Star Brainstorming Conference hosted by the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute (DLI) and the National Cleaners Association (NCA) just wrapped. In case you missed it, the conference ran January 12th-14th at the Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, an adults-only resort on Mexico’s world-famous Yucatan peninsula. Surrounded by towering palm trees a stone’s throw from azure Caribbean waters, attendees spent their mornings soaking up knowledge – and their afternoons soaking up the sun.
Speakers included Deena Ebbert, who shared insights about the FISH! philosophy; Joseph Grenny, a New York Times bestselling author who spoke on ways to change both employee and employer behaviors; and Brian Rashid, creator and CEO of ‘A Life In Shorts’, a digital media and communications company, who specializes in the art of storytelling in marketing.
“The attendees enjoyed and responded to the information being presented,” said Mary Scalco, event organizer and CEO of DLI. “I thought it was good,” said David Suber of Perfect Cleaners in Los Angeles, California. “They had great speakers, very informative.” “My personal favorite was the FISH! speaker,” said Scott Nanfelt of Delken Professional Cleaners in Fall River, Massachusetts. “She highlighted the importance of recognition and customer service. As we all know it could be just one thing that you get from seminar that could change your entire way of doing business!”
“I was really impressed with the speaker on the last day,” said Chris Edwards of A Cleaner World in High Point, North Carolina. “He was a TedX speaker. That’s probably where I picked up the most valuable, actionable items.” Dennis Schmitt of Lindeman’s Cleaning in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said that “All the speakers had a really good knowledge of their subjects and they all had a passion in their delivery. It would be difficult to leave the meeting without some ideas to improve your business or personal life.” Learning from impressive, informative, and passionate speakers in the lap of tropical luxury? That sounds fantastic!
The Brainstorming Conference was also a great place to meet up with fellow drycleaning professionals. “It’s usually the better cleaners, the more successful ones, who attend, and we talk about what works and what doesn’t,” said Suber. “Every year I gather up a group of people who want to go do something together outside of the event,” said Edwards. “We rented a catamaran and went out snorkeling and sailing.”
“It is ALWAYS good to talk to other people in the same industry,” said Nanfelt. “I came away realizing that my prices are too low.” Whether it was around the quiet and relaxing pool, during a meal, or somewhere else unexpected, most attendees interviewed for this story expanded their networks.
“Being able to speak with others (sponsors) and network with other cleaners is a true benefit,” said Don Holecek of Crown Cleaners in Knoxville, Tennessee. “I made several new contacts, both cleaners and vendor. Even exchanging a business card on the way to the airport with a fellow attendee has proved beneficial to me already.”
“I learned a lot from some of the roundtables, brainstorming with others in the field,” said Edwards. Mark Pollock of Signature Cleaners in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was also excited about the the conference, noting that it “was an opportunity for business people to gather in a common purpose to learn from each other. It was an excellent opportunity to network with other industry professionals. A wonderful experience was had by all.”
“It’s easy to make new connections,” said Schmitt. “We enjoyed a quiet, relaxing atmosphere.” Bill Odorizzi of Sankosha USA Inc in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, said the conference “had one of the best overall programs and, as always, it gives us a tremendous opportunity to network with so many people in our industry. Because of how the conference is structured, it allows for plenty of opportunities to socialize together.”
“The location was perfect,” said Scalco. “Small enough that everyone could mingle and visit in the afternoon at the pool or the beach but also you could find quiet spaces if you wanted to have a little solitude.” Asked whether the ‘adult-only’ aspect of the event mattered or not, Pollock said “Yes! The atmosphere was conducive to business meetings without distractions.”
“It is a combination of mini-vacation and networking event,” said Holecek. “Toss in some valuable speakers and I think it works really well for cleaners who are big and small.”
“When two associations [DLI and NCA] work together, it shows they can use their resources to put on a first-class event,” said Odorizzi. “The real winners are the members who take away new ideas to help our businesses become even more successful.” Coming up with ways to run a better business happens best in a sun-dappled paradise, so keep an eye out for information about the 2019 Five Star Brainstorming Conference. “Personally I always find it useful and refreshing to go to DLI’s events,” said Nanfelt. “People who skip this event don’t really know what they are missing.”