Georgia Foley has served as executive director of STAFDA since 2000. She recently spoke with Home Channel News editor Ken Clark about the Denver convention and STAFDA’s priorities.
Home Channel News: How will the 2008 show be different?
Georgia Foley: The economy will be on everyone’s mind. I think it’s kind of a one-two punch at this point. We were concerned about the residential construction and construction economy as a whole prior to the whole Wall Street melt-down in September, which has only added to the woes of the construction and industrial Channel.
HCN: It’s been observed that in tough times conference attendance tends to suffer, but the importance of attending a conference tends to increase. Do you see it that way?
Foley: Well, with our registration fee of $190.00 for three days we keep costs as low as possible, and we haven’t raised that fee in over 10 years. STAFDA’s a bargain and the opportunity to network with colleagues from across the country and serving different channels is certainly a golden opportunity for people to commiserate or get some new ideas from colleagues who are probably not competitors and from different parts of the country.
HCN: In coming president Hal Look (ORCO Construction Supply, Livermore, Calif.) will be taking over from Rick Peterson (All-West Fasteners, Seattle). Do you see any changes in style or direction based on that personality switch?
Foley: Every president is different, and what we try and do when we select a president is that they come from different geographic areas and serve different markets. So, where as Rick is more into electronics distribution and industrial and MRO, you’ve got Hal who is more of a “traditional STAFDA-house.” Because each president is different, the messages they write in our news letter are varied. It’s always an interesting change. Hal’s been really active with STAFDA over several years, and he’ll be a good president.
HCN: Can you comment on the business opportunities for members? Anything jump out in 2009 that some members are moving toward?
Foley: I think a lot of folks right now are just trying to inch up their focus. For example, at ORCO, they were heavy into residential and had a smaller percentage of their business being commercial. So now they’ve success fully bumped that up. Members are trying to look for different markets to go into.
HCN: There’s a tremendous amount of innovation and technology in the power tool area—I think that’s one thing that makes STAFDA a draw. Do you agree with that?
Foley: Power tool companies certainly have stepped it up. They’ve always been competitive and use our show to debut what’s new for ’09, meet with their distributors and put together either fourth-quarter deals or special programs for the following year.
HCN: How would you describe STAFDA’s focus?
Foley: Twenty percent of the exhibitors in Denver this year were not in Nashville. We’re bringing in new products and new vendors. The board is excited about these new member companies. So there’s always something different and new to see. Our efforts here in the office are to keep our nose to the grindstone, continue to do what we’re doing and have been successful with in the past and introduce new programs and services that can benefit members. Meanwhile, keeping dues and the registration fee of value.
HCN: What will you tell members during your director’s address?
Foley: It’s kind of a work-in-progress. I’ll be addressing some of the new programs and services that we’ll be introducing in’ 09. The focus of my comments will be geared toward the economy and what our members hopefully are doing.