recap of the ISFA annual meeting and conference

recap of the ISFA annual meeting and conference

On November 4-6, 2015, ISFA (the International Surface Fabricator’s Association) held it’s annual meeting with a bit more fanfare than they’ve done in several years.

ISFA receptionWednesday started with a fun party and band (hosted by Kohler, thanks!) where we got a chance to hang out with friends in the industry.

Then, Thursday was much more down to business. One big news item was that Mike Langenderfer, of The Countertop Shop in Holland Ohio, is ISFA’s new executive director.

Mike’s business has grown to the point where he can dedicate more of his time to supporting the industry and other countertop fabricators. A big part of Mike’s success has been his involvement with ISFA’s mentorship program, and he’s ready to give back.

In addition to an awards ceremony, good meals, and great conversations with fabricators… ISFA’s annual meeting included a few presentations about running your business.

One of the speakers was Ed Hill at Synchronous Solutions, and his talk particularly resonated with me – it was all about “Octane” – one way to plan your shop operations for profitability. I really enjoyed how Ed made us rethink some of our assumptions about profit.

He walked the whole audience through a series of perfectly reasonable exercises to calculate and plan for profit… and it turned out that doing it a few different ways gave vastly different results. Many folks in the countertop industry think of cost accounting as the holy grail, and Ed’s talk really turned that approach on it’s head.

Want to learn how a new way of thinking about profit?

Step #1 – listen to the interview with Ed on episode 25 of StoneTalk. Ed covers some of the basics, and tells a bit of his own story.

Step #2 – read “The Goal” by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt. This short business fable lays the groundwork for an approach to manufacturing called the Theory of Constraints.

Step #3 – try some of the exercises like those Ed gave us. The example we went through is from another Goldratt book called The Haystack Syndrome, which is pretty tough reading. Here’s a summary by an MBA student.

Step #4 – think through how you’re calculating profitability. Is cost-accounting really something you need if you’re doing it today?

After all of that thinking about business, it was really nice to be able to hang out in the evening with countertop fabricators, some of the other sponsors, and folks from ISFA. It’s really clear to me that the presentations give everyone a shared experience to foster great conversations.

ISFA is already planning it’s next annual meeting. In 2016, it’ll be in Mexico, at the Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. If you’re interested, seats are limited… so sign up soon.

Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you. We also sponsor StoneTalk, the podcast for countertop fabricators.

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