Like anywhere else, networking is the name of the game in the convenience and retail industries. Who you know is often as important as what you know.
That’s why, for Pakit Displays, attending the 2022 C-StorePoint conference was such a positive experience. Last spring, President/CEO Joe Vozella, Director of Design and Engineering Konrad Giersz, and Southeast Regional Sales Director James Cook traveled to the annual networking event at Coronado Beach near San Diego.
According to its website, “C-StorePoint brings together retail executives responsible for the in-store experience, interior design, merchandising, fixturing, equipment and food service, with innovative suppliers seeking to innovate and expand their relationships and business.”
C-StorePoint provides unique marketing and networking opportunities with executives from potential new clients that are hard to find elsewhere. That’s what first drew Vozella’s attention.
When Vozella and his ownership group bought Pakit in 2020, he brought 30 years of experience in the food processing industry. That included attending traditional trade shows … a LOT of trade shows.
“I could’ve gone to one every week,” he says. “That was our opportunity to market and sell the goods of our company. We had a booth the size of a football field with all the machinery in there.”
But at Pakit, Vozella had to decide on the best marketing option for his new company in a different industry. He wondered, How do you get your name out there in this business? Do you go to a trade show? Do you put yourself in a trade journal?
After learning about C-StorePoint, Vozella quickly registered.
“It’s speed-dating,” Vozella says. “We accomplished what took three years at trade shows in a two-and-a-half-day window. Everyone you may want to talk to is there. Very efficient!”
Despite the scenic SoCal surroundings, the conference was all work and no play for the Pakit team. A networking breakfast started each day at 7 am, followed by boardroom presentations to potential clients, where Pakit presented successful rollouts of recent designs.
After a networking lunch, all three Pakit members were assigned to separate tables. The afternoons were filled with industry-relevant seminars and several hours of one-on-one meetings. In addition, all attendees had access to a unique phone app where potential clients could see vendors’ afternoon availability and vice versa. That allowed for many important interactions and sales leads.
Then it was off to (a working) dinner — once again, with separate, assigned seating — and more post-dinner networking, complete with a drink in hand. Each day ended at 9:30 pm — or later.
“It was so well-organized and so well-run and so structured, we didn’t have a minute from 7:30 am until 9:30 pm every day,” Vozella says.
Giersz agrees. “There was a lot of opportunity to converse casually with a drink in your hand,” he says. “But of course, you’re always working while you have that drink. We went there with a goal in mind, and I think we achieved it. While it was an enjoyable experience, it was also quite intense because it was a long day. You’re constantly talking to people, asking about their needs, and connecting on new business. That being said, the event was enjoyable, and I think we plan to attend more of them in the future.”
Barely after returning to Pennsylvania, the Pakit team had started working on new projects that materialized from C-StorePoint, including ongoing conversations with others they had met.
“I believe that’s a much better return on investment than traditional trade shows,” Vozella says.