It can be hard to remember, but 2020 actually started out like a normal year, kicking off with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors holding in January its annual Summit – in person! – in Washington, D.C. The event (which I attended) went off without a hitch. Who knew it would be one of the last in-person events many of us would attend for the year? Flash forward to 2021, NAW is now working toward another successful Summit – this time virtually.
MDM spoke with Eric Hoplin, NAW president & CEO, about his expectations for the association’s 2o21 NAW Digital Summit, happening January 27 and 28.
What can we expect from the NAW Digital Summit?
This year’s Digital Summit is going to be hard-hitting, fast, actionable, interactive and engaging. This won’t be just another Zoom meeting. We’ll learn from some of the industry’s leading CEOs about how they pivoted during the pandemic, discuss actionable ways to stay competitive in this challenging environment, hear about what to expect from the Biden administration, and network with each other – which is always a favorite part of our event for our attendees. People may register at naw.org/ds21.
Aside from the virtual format, are you introducing any new or different elements to the conference for 2021?
We are excited about our new and expanded attendance opportunities with five- and 10-pack registration options. With no travel costs and a concise agenda spread over two days, CEOs can easily bring more members of their leadership team so that everyone can learn from their peers and take away important business insights to help them succeed in 2021. We’re also including some interactive elements like polling and chat forums with speakers. Plus, we have some surprise content and speakers that distributors will only experience if they attend the NAW Digital Summit. And, if folks register at naw.org/ds21 by this Friday, January 15, they’ll receive a special gift box from NAW by mail that includes items each attendee will use on each day to participate in our event!
How did the disruption of 2020 affect your planning for the 2021 conference?
We know many are tired of regular video conferences — we are, too — but we also know that we couldn’t hold this year’s event in-person. That’s why we focused our planning on creating a highly interactive event from start to finish with meaningful impact and valuable opportunities to engage, learn, listen and talk with peers.
What would you say to potential first-time attendees who are considering attending the NAW Digital Summit?
If you’re unfamiliar with NAW events, they attract the CEOs and senior leaders of America’s largest and most successful wholesale distribution companies. First-time attendees will have the chance to hear from industry leaders and business experts and discuss topics relevant to their business, including hearing from industry CEOs on our “Leading in a Time of Transition” panel as well as having significant time for discussion at our roundtables where we focus on peer-to-peer networking and idea exchange.
How about those who have been attending for years. Can they expect a similar experience to previous NAW conferences?
We’re going to offer the same value that attendees have come to expect from NAW, but delivered virtually. We will have the compelling content NAW is known for, from quick, actionable takeaways and innovative points of view from some of the best and brightest in business and our industry to getting an accurate and insightful picture of what to expect from the Biden White House and a Democrat-controlled Congress.