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AWMA Show Heads To The Sunshine State

This year's Orlando event will offer more educational sessions, including a half-day seminar exclusively for ops professionals

The annual American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA) Show has taken place in Las Vegas for a number of years. This year, though, the show is moving to the Peabody Hotel in Orlando for one year thanks to member surveys.

"We have done a number of surveys on the location, and we decided to see how the show worked in Orlando this year because it's always at the top of the list for people," said Scott Ramminger, president and CEO of AWMA, which works on behalf of U.S. convenience distributors. "It's easy to get in and out of; there are a ton of direct flights, good hotel rates and it's accessible for a lot of people. Also, the weather is usually nice there."

The association uses member surveys to improve upon the show every year, and has acted on suggestions for the past five years. These have included adding new vendors — in some cases, vendors specifically named by wholesalers and distributors — the addition of a foodservice section on the show floor and specific topics for educational sessions.

"We've spent a lot of time in the last few years talking to distributors and manufacturers to figure out what they want from this meeting, and we have modified the meeting to fit that. So, the show has gotten better every year for the past five years," Ramminger said.

The 2013 AWMA Show, scheduled for March 6-8, will offer new concurrent educational sessions. It also boasts a new operations focus and presents many networking opportunities for attendees, including a First Time Attendee and Exhibitor Welcome Reception, followed by an Industry Welcome Reception, along with continental breakfasts, exhibit hall lunches and other receptions.

"Sometimes trade shows can be so enormous, it's not easy to get anything done, but our meeting is not enormous," Ramminger noted. "It's very focused, and there is plenty of networking and social time."


Over the past few years, the educational program and expo hall at the AWMA Show have expanded to include a wide range of topics, as well as concurrent workshops. This year, AWMA will again offer a half-day program dedicated to buyers, as well as a brand-new operations program focused on security.

"We are trying to offer something for everybody in the distribution business, whether it's sales, buying or operations," Ramminger said. "We also get retailers at the show, and a lot of them like it because the show is much more manageable because of the size. They are able to go around the expo floor and actually have face time with manufacturers."

Other sessions this year will focus on tobacco, specifically tobacco trends, insights into convenience retail and cigarette taxes, and smuggling. A foodservice case study showcasing successful foodservice partnerships is also on the docket. This session will include panelists from Eby-Brown, the VPS Convenience Store Group and Chester's International.

"We've added more concurrent sessions we didn't have in the past, and we are also giving out our Hall of Fame awards, which we started a couple of years ago," said Ramminger.

This year, the awards will be presented to the late Bob Douglas, founder of Douglas Companies Inc. — to be accepted by his children Steve Douglas and Susie Douglas Munson — and John R. White Jr., vice president of national sales at Swisher International Inc.


The show's opening keynote presentation will be given by business author and performance coach Joe Calloway, who advises companies on how to become better by focusing on what is important, constantly improving and motivating people to immediate action. He has worked with The Coca-Cola Co., IBM, Saks Fifth Avenue and American Express.

"He is a performance coach who helps people face challenges, and obviously this is a business where there are a lot of challenges," Ramminger explained. "His book is called, 'Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison,' and that is one of the things we preach to our members. It's about customer service and the need to differentiate yourself."

The closing session will feature Dr. Joseph Michelli, an organizational psychologist and author of five books. He has studied branding pioneers such as Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market, and is an expert in fostering passionate performance to take companies from customer satisfaction to delighting each customer.

"We have a great program, a great list of exhibitors and will have strong attendance this year based on the early numbers," Ramminger said.

For comments, please contact Tammy Mastroberte, Contributing Editor, at [email protected].

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