The Value of In-Person Gatherings

The recent annual PLMA Meeting & Leadership Conference again showed the important role face-to-face events have to an industry's future growth.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
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Greg Sleter, Associate Publisher/Executive Editor, Store Brands
Greg Sleter, Store Brands' Executive Editor/Associate Publisher

If there is one thing most of us can agree on, we need to maximize our time. The world feels as if it is moving faster than ever and we’re all working to make proper use of each day’s precious hours.

As I was leaving the recent annual Meeting & Leadership Conference hosted by the Private Label Manufacturers Association in Orlando, Fla., I was processing the many conversations I had and information that was shared during my three days in Central Florida.

I was also glad I attended.

There were lots of great data points to digest, some of which will seed future topics covered by Store Brands and others that will help me grow as a professional. The best part of any event such as PLMA’s annual conference is the hand shakes, the casual discussions during lunch or the extended “get to know you” moments that happen when dining with new friends. I’m happy to say I hit this trifecta during the conference. 

As the private label industry enjoys a period of growth, the opportunities on the horizon feel as if they are endless. Retailers of all sizes are focused on expanding private brand assortments. No longer satisfied to offer products that are simply “me too,” the effort to create unique items that differ from competitors is the norm.

But to take advantage of this opportunity in time and keep the momentum going, conferences held by industry leading organizations such as PLMA are vital. We have learned in recent years what it’s like to not have these meetings. 

Turnout at the Meeting & Leadership Conference was strong. Too bad attendance wasn’t larger. Understanding schedules today are tight, the ability to carve out three days to speak directly with leaders in the industry could prove invaluable. Those that attended now have an advantage over those that didn’t.

I applaud PLMA for putting on a great event, which included a rejuvenated Private Label Hall of Fame celebration. I encourage the many who didn’t hop a flight to Orlando to do so next year and beyond. 

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation by Juan De Paoli, vice president of Our Brands at Kroger. He oversees a $30 billion private brand program. Want to be part of that? Product suppliers at the conference had the opportunity to chat with De Paoli for a few minutes, and he’s looking to grow and add new products.

For those companies who got a chance to speak with De Paoli, the trip to Orlando was time well spent.

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