ANNAPOLIS, Md.—It may not be when or where it was planned, but NAHAD will hold its annual convention as an in-person event, something that was important to the association's leadership.
The meeting typically is in early spring, but the dates had been moved to June 12-15, with the location scheduled to be the Marriott Marquis in San Diego. It now will be held on the same dates, but at the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The convention will have the same program as was originally scheduled, with all speakers confirming their appearances, according to Molly Alton Mullins, executive vice president of the association for hose and accessories distribution. The group had to cancel its 2020 convention because it was scheduled for shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic set in.
"NAHAD leadership are very thoughtful and engaged people," she said. "We talked quite a bit. They wanted to get together in person. They believe it's best for their business. They believe it's best for their industry. Zoom is just not the same for a manufacturer/distribution interaction as it is when you're on the showcase floor."
Mullins credited the Marriott Marquis in San Diego for working with them, but they were hampered by the protocols in place in California.
"It came to the point where we had to look at alternatives to get the NAHAD community together, and Scottsdale presented the best solution in front of us," she said.
Changing venues for a major convention on two months' notice was not an easy proposition. NAHAD staff had to preview the Fairmont Scottsdale property and make sure it was up to the quality that attendees expect. Mullins said one of the key points was that the hotel has maintained 95 percent of its staff and been open since April 2020.
"It means they're fully staffed and they're prepared to have a group come in, and they have had other groups come in," she said. "That gave us a level of comfort that this would be a quality NAHAD experience, even with only two months' notice."
And all signs are that the convention will be a success, if a bit smaller than the association's normal meetings.
More than 100 companies have signed on to exhibit and about 500 are registered to attend, Mullins said. She expects attendance to hit 650-700, compared with about 1,000 in normal years. But 20 percent of NAHAD attendees are international, and with travel restrictions still in place, that is where most of the falloff will occur.
And while about the same number of companies have registered, many will bring fewer people. For example, some of the larger manufacturer members that normally sent 20-30 people are registering 10-15.
Most of the program will look similar to other years. The convention will include five General Session speakers, the Showcase of Hose Solutions exhibit and multiple networking opportunities. NAHAD also has included additional time for suppliers and distributors to host company meetings and interact with each other directly. The location will have ample outdoor venues for expanded footprints for NAHAD's hospitality events hosted by its manufacturer members.
There will be a few changes. Mullins said there will be no speed networking, as the current situation is not the best time for going person-to-person. The exhibits also will be spaced out a bit more, with wider aisles and dividers between booths.
"The ultimate goal at NAHAD is you need to increase this relationship that you value so much," she said. "We built a program that ensures they have that opportunity since we haven't gotten this group together in 26 months."
She added that only one exhibitor canceled because of the change in location, but about 20 signed on once the move was made.
"When we announced we were moving to Scottsdale, it was almost like a sigh of relief," Mullins said. "It gave them some surety they could make their travel plans, they could ask companies to attend, and then actually get together in June."
For more information and to register, visit nahad.org/convention.