The Florida Messenger Association hosted nearly 100 attendees at their annual Winter Meeting at the Orlando Doubletree Universal Resort in January. By changing to a Friday night/Saturday event from the previous year’s schedule of Thursday night/Friday, an incredible increase in attendance resulted. This agenda format allowed member companies to bring additional personnel as dispatchers and other employees were able to participate in the full agenda on Saturday. “It was so nice to be able to focus on the speakers and participate in the roundtable discussions on a Saturday when my phone is not buzzing with emails, phone calls, and text messages,” said Steven Lukenbach of Jacksonville based Priority Couriers. “If this meeting were to occur on a weekday, I would be dealing with the normal barrage of smartphone activity.” Steve’s comments were echoed by many other members of the association who attended the event.
“I was able to bring several members of my management team to the meeting because the main event was scheduled for a Saturday,” said Harold Boyett, FMA Board Member and President of Jacksonville based Blue Streak Couriers. “Normally, I could not afford to lose four of my people on a weekday because of the demands of their daily responsibilities,” said Boyett.
The conference began on Friday afternoon once attendees registered and were provided with a “vendor passport.” These started being used immediately as the first agenda item was the vendor meeting, where FMA members were able to spend quality one-on-one time with vendors prior to the dinner reception and casino night. This vendor meeting was a direct result of the FMA implementing enhancements to the winter meeting as a result of feedback from both member and vendor attendees. “As a vendor to the courier industry we find it an incredible leverage of our time visiting with existing clients and meeting new prospects. How often can you get to talk to 50-70 courier company owners in one room?” said Chris Kane, CEO of Courierboard LLC.
The meeting continued on Friday night with a dinner reception and the ever popular casino night, where attendees won an ample supply of “funny money.” At the end of the evening, the play money was exchanged for raffle tickets that were used to bid for more than two-dozen wrapped prizes. Participants walked away with great raffle prizes such as a 55-inch television, Samsung III Galaxy Tablets, Kindle Fire tablets, and dozens of gift cards. Many attendees won gifts valued at more than the cost of attending the event!
Throughout the evening, one vendor, Armstrong Consulting Group, LLC, provided attendees with complimentary “head shot” photograph opportunities. These pictures are great for profile images on company websites or sites such as LinkedIn. The board of the FMA expressed tremendous gratitude for Shannon Armstrong’s continued support of FMA.
On Saturday morning, the meeting began with opening comments from Tim Petty, FMA Board Member and President of Pettyco Express (Jacksonville), and the outgoing President of the FMA. Petty transferred the position of President to Thomas Jowers, FMA Board Member and Vice President of ADL Delivery, which operates throughout the state. Jowers presented his vision of the organization for the upcoming year, as well as a call-to-action for more members to get involved in the affairs of the association. Jowers then introduced Rob Hackbarth, the keynote speaker for the event.
Rob talked about the “B.E.T.” in life. He used personal stories and experiences to emphasize the importance of “Belief, Enthusiasm, and Team.” He tied his stories to the importance of these three success factors for anyone in a position of leadership. “I never realized how important it is to have someone who believes in you, and who will support you and be there for you, no matter what,” said Steve Howard, FMA Board Member and President of Miami based Esquire Express. “Even when we don’t realize it, we all have a centerfielder there to always have our back and to support us in our efforts to succeed in life,” he added.
The Saturday agenda continued with two roundtable discussions at which members discussed topics such as overcoming funding needs, customer diversification, exit strategies, and standard operating procedures (SOPs). The cross-pollination of ideas has always been a strong point for members of the FMA and the roundtable discussions simply reinforce the sharing of best practices among member companies.
After the roundtable discussions concluded, Shannon Armstrong, of Armstrong Consulting Group, LLC, shared her experiences and knowledge regarding the proper use of the Independent Contractor business model in the same-day delivery industry. Her presentation included a Q & A session where members were able to get answers to specific questions regarding the industry and compliance.
The afternoon portion of the agenda was started by special panel discussion moderated by Harold Boyett, FMA Board Member and President of Blue Streak Couriers, based in Jacksonville. The panel consisted of customers representing three unique industries. These panelists responded to questions such as, “What are the three most important decision criteria when selecting a courier company, and how do you leverage the technology provided by your courier company?” This session also ended with an opportunity for the audience to ask additional questions of the customers on the panel.
Hazen Mirts, President of Enrollment First, Inc. provided insight on the Affordable Care Act and its implications for small businesses as well as independent contractors. His session was not only intriguing but informative and ended with an interactive Q & A.
As the meeting began to wrap up, participants with visits documented on the aforementioned vendor passports were eligible to participate in the raffle at the end of the day. Again, big screen televisions, Kindle Fire tablets, iPads, Blackberry phones, Samsung phones, and gift cards were given to participants whose completed passports were drawn from a hat.
Overall, the annual winter meeting for the Florida Messenger Association was another successful event. As always, the FMA leads the country when it comes to state association activities and the Orlando Doubletree Universal continues to serve as a great venue for the meeting. “I drive by the hotel every day and I did not realize what a great meeting facility it was,” said Pat Bronos of Orlando based A.S.A.P. Couriers.
“The 2014 FMA Winter Meeting was another spectacular meeting in Florida. It was two days that were filled with thought-provoking speakers, educational discussions, and great networking opportunities,” said Lance Dearborn, CEO and President of Orlando based Air Traffic Services.