There are several industry events that I don’t like to miss and the National Sporting Goods Association’s Management Meeting and Team Dealer Summit is one of them. Although I wasn’t able to attend this year, we had a team there representing Stahls’. Stahls’ has been a strong supporter of this event for many years. This year, our team had the opportunity to present at their Innovations Arena, as well as give a live demonstration on the latest decorating technologies. It was well attended by team dealers who are all looking for solutions for printing on sublimated garments and performance wear. They were glad to learn about AquaTru Dye-Block Numbers and CAD-CUT Silicone Dye Block Heat Transfer Vinyl. We also had the chance to speak about the Hotronix Fusion IQ and showcase the benefits of the Hotronix Heated Lower Platen. In addition to the Innovations Arena, the NSGA also puts together a great slate of educational and inspirational speakers. The keynote speaker this year was Tom Izzo, the head basketball coach for the Michigan State Spartans. Izzo was a big hit with our team members (especially Brett Stahl, who is a MSU graduate), and touched on the importance of communication with his players. This resonated with the sporting goods dealers present, who are always looking for ways to strengthen their relationships with customers and staff members. When working with his players, Izzo said he meets with each one individually every year. He has them write their top five goals on an index card and then they discuss how he can help them meet those goals. He also stresses that he looks for players who are able to self-evaluate and self-motivate. Since his players are young men between the ages of 17 to 22, he understands the importance of giving them feedback and support. He invites players into his home and really tries to create an atmosphere where they can openly communicate. In fact, he attributes much of his winning success to his ability to communicate and his understanding of the psychology of young athletes. Another speaker at the event, Dr. John Duffy, echoed this sentiment in his presentation about dealing with younger, millennial employees. Duffy told attendees how important it is to make every team member, even if they are just teenagers or recent college graduates, to feel welcome and appreciated on their first day of work. He also expressed the importance of modeling for them what you want them to show your customers. They need to feel involved or that the work they are doing is important in the big picture. Basically, they want what everyone craves, a bit of recognition. This advice is useful when dealing with team members from all generations. The educational sessions are geared to speak to both store owners with retail locations as well as team dealers who may not have a brick and mortar location. There were also sessions on merchandising and dealing with the “Amazon effect,” as well as plenty of time for networking with peers and vendors. If you ever have the opportunity to attend the NSGA Management Conference and Team Dealer Summit, you won’t be disappointed. Next year the NSGA conference will take place in Tucson, Arizona. Maybe I will see you there.