A couple of weeks ago, Kathleen and I visited New Orleans for a Park Industries Digital Expo. If you haven’t attended one of these events before, you should contact Park and ask to attend. The next one is June 16 in St Cloud, MN.
Park puts on a great learning event. There’s no sales pressure at all … instead, they get 50 or so fabricators together and foster discussion about improving their businesses. Many business owners say the reception is the most valuable part of the event, because they get to talk with other people in the same business (Park also does a good job of bringing together people from different geographies so that you’re not bumping into your direct competitors every time you turn around).
This event was hosted by John Cognevich from Stone Interiors, who kicked off the day by describing how his business has adopted various digital technologies to help them grow and succeed. Paul Menninger of Capitol Granite and Scott Hanes from Majestic Marble also spoke at the event and covered various ways to become better fabricators and run better businesses. These are super smart guys who are incredibly generous about sharing their knowledge and experience with others. (Paul and Scott have been guests on StoneTalk already, and I hope to interview John soon.)
The theme was all about making the move to digital – that’s why Moraware was invited, to describe the benefits of using an electronic scheduling/tracking system (like our JobTracker) and digital quoting (like CounterGo). The folks from Laser Products did the same for digital templating, and Park people covered topics like SlabSmith, financial measurement … and of course digital fabrication. Any one of these technologies can improve your business, but when you use all of them in concert, you can transform your business. Since it’s impossible to make such a massive switch overnight, it’s very helpful to talk with others who are at various stages in the process.
That’s the biggest reason to come to one of these events – to talk with other fabricators who are working on improving their businesses, just like you. It’s not just learning, either – you probably have wisdom to share yourself, which always feels good. There were a lot of smart fabricators in that room … some even smarter than they realize, I suspect. One of my favorite things about this industry is the way fabricators share ideas with each other and help each other learn and grow. You see a lot of that happening at these events.
On a personal note, it was my first time visiting New Orleans, and I loved the people, the architecture, the atmosphere … and oh my gosh, the food!
Kathleen and I also visited a couple of customers before the event – here’s our friend Chris Marques reminding us what it was like after Katrina – that red arrow below points to the water line in his shop … the flooding was above the slabs! All his equipment was destroyed. I’ll try to remember that the next time I complain about having a bad day.
Again, kudos to Park Industries for putting on these great events, and thanks for including us. See you at the next one! (… that’s June 16 in St Cloud, MN … you can register here)