Association Spotlight: Ninth Annual ISA Product Show & Conference Grows in Size, Scope, Message

This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of Industrial Distribution. To view it, click here.

San Diego seems to be the right place to be in 2013; everything will be bigger and better — including the 2013 ISA Product Show & Conference, scheduled for June 1-4 at the San Diego Convention Center and Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

As of ten weeks out, we have signed up 60 new exhibitors and have 50 percent larger registration than last year. Combining these new exhibitors with the 300 that usually participate means a Product Show sell out is expected.  

Highlights include the following updates on last year’s event:

  • Besides the standard FASTMATCH appointment scheduling program, the newly introduced “take an exhibitor to lunch program” will increase the time available for meetings between suppliers and distributors. Participating distributors will host lunch tables for suppliers with whom they were not able to make FASTMATCH appointments. All distributors are invited to participate and host luncheon meetings.
  • The ISA Education Foundation will hold a Silent Auction fundraising event. The auction will be held on the floor of the Product Show both days. An impressive list of gifts has been donated by industry members.
  • The creation of a new set of American Eagle Awards means a “Lifetime Achievement Award” will be given out for the first time. According to Awards & Recognition committee Chairman Bart Fellin, “We are anxious to recognize those individuals who have dedicated a lifetime to building a successful company, while at the same time being active in industry organizations and events —  someone who has always been ready and willing to lend a helping hand for the advancement and improvement of the industry. Involvement in community affairs will also be a considered.”
  • Another new American Eagle Award, the “Excellence Award,” will be given to a member company, manufacturer, distributor, or rep agency that has done something special during the year.

Convention chairman Mike Carr stressed some of the significant changes to this year’s meeting: “I am most impressed by what we  have done with the conference program this year. We turned it over to the ISA Education Foundation and they have done wonders.” Specifically, the conference has doubled in size, making it an all-day event (Tuesday, June 4th). The program has been built to help the industry deal with one of the most radical changes that has occurred in the marketplace — the move to electronic distribution. It will help our member companies continue “thriving in a connected world,” which is the theme of this year’s event. To thrive, companies will need to learn to effectively use the web, and to think in an innovative way. Both subjects will be addressed.

Attendees also need to know what other innovators are doing, which is why we’ve arranged for these thought leaders to address attendees of the conference:

  • Representatives from MSC and Cleveland Research will share their strategies at the Tuesday morning panel discussion.
  • will take the stage in the afternoon to discuss the value and importance of customer relationship management.
  • Alan Beaulieu, ISA’s economist, will have an expanded role in this year’s program with two sessions — his usual economic forecast message, along with a new session on how to turn the quarterly economic forecast report into a dynamic customer management tool.

ISA Keynote Speaker: Terry Jones
Terry Jones, founder of, will give an engaging presentation on “The Business of Innovation” Saturday, June 1 at 4:30pm. This is not an academic exercise but a keynote filled with real world examples drawn from Terry’s long experience with innovation in companies large and small. Terry will cover:

  • Where the best ideas originate in a company
  • How to create a culture of innovation
  • How to experiment and be OK with failure
  • How to fail fast and adapt
  • How to play to your strengths
  • How to build a 21st century team
  • How to do more with less

Visit for a complete list of all exhibiting companies, as well as convention-related information including registration and room reservations in the official convention hotels. A special registration program has been introduced to allow registered convention companies to bring additional associates to the conference program for a greatly reduced registration fee.

John Buckley is the executive vice president of the Industrial Supply Association. For more information, visit