President’s View

A Busy Year; An Enduring Message

By Mark Raimy

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed and my term as 2016-2017 president is at an end. This year, my goals were to use technology to improve communication in order to bring the value of GAWDA to our members and to strengthen the value when members come to GAWDA events. I believe we made good strides on both initiatives.

We built the GAWDA events app. It’s a great platform to replace all the paper and schedules that come with attending meetings. Its features give members new ways to communicate, make appointments with other members and use social media to share pictures and experiences. (At the fall Annual Convention, we’ll continue using this, and will push updates and reminders to attendees through the app. If you are headed to the AC, please download the app and let it help you navigate the event.)

We added Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics as a consultant and GAWDA’s chief economist. His quarterly GAWDA- and industry-specific reports and recommendations appear in this magazine. These offer more certainty about the future of the business environment and less guessing about economic conditions, strengthening decision-making ability, leadership and competitive position.

Our ITR program brings much value just as it is now, but the next possible step – creating a true GAWDA indicator – will let us enjoy something akin to having the value of the collective membership experience in one room. This step would require member companies to send sales data to ITR in a completely secure and confidential manner, to be used for additional economic analysis. I believe the power of this indicator information to be immense and it will meet a core GAWDA mission. We’ll hear more about this at the fall convention.

We spent several months improving messaging to both sides of our membership. This also led to updates and improvements to the Contact Booth Program, electronic communication and a redesigned GAWDA show booth. My work with the Contact Booth Committee was a highlight of my year, giving me a chance to get behind the supplier curtain a bit while working with the committee. I gained insights into a most valuable point of view. I am continually impressed with the commitment and passion our supplier members have for GAWDA, and I now have an in-depth understanding of the importance of the Contact Booth Program to them.

I would like to leave an enduring message to my fellow distributor members. Please take full advantage of the Contact Booth Program. Strengthen your current relationships, but also invest in new ones. The rate of change in our industry keeps advancing. Who knows what the next big thing may be or what the landscape will look like ahead? The best way to be prepared for an uncertain future is to have depth and breadth in relationships. This is one of the biggest value opportunities that GAWDA offers through its meetings.

We plan to debut a new GAWDA website this fall. The prior site was torn down and a new one will provide big changes in looks and functionality. The new one will permit members to make the value of in-person meetings occur electronically. It features a robust and secure member-only area, another step to better serve our smaller members and one we think will also help GAWDA’s efforts to recruit similar suppliers and distributors.

President Raimy at his 2016 installation with wife Kathryn; children Jack, Lindsay and Lauren; and father Bruce.

I’m grateful for all the help and support I’ve enjoyed from this organization in many different ways.

We have a strong Executive Committee and Board of Directors. They all helped greatly with my initiatives and projects, efforts meant to strengthen GAWDA. We have very strong leadership and I look forward to seeing Ned Lane take the presidency and take GAWDA to the next level.

We have very capable staff running the business side of GAWDA. Their support and dedication is deep and I want to thank them greatly for all their help and support of my goals this past year. Members are in very good hands with them.

I want to thank the membership. It was a most amazing experience to be able to travel to many of the regional meetings to make new friends and strengthen current friendships. This association has a great membership group.

I also want to thank my family, wife Kathryn and children Lauren, Jack and Lindsay, for their support and for putting up with lots of away-time. They did get to go to some fun places. After Hawaii and Boca Raton, Lindsay, our 6-year-old, told me that she didn’t really understand what GAWDA was but that she really did like it. She said it wasn’t just the nice places she went, it was the friendliness of all those she met. So even a 6-year old can appreciate how special GAWDA is because of its people. (I did not have the heart to tell her that it may be a bit different next year when we attend as a member instead of as president. We all have to grow up some time.)

As always, I think GAWDA is at its best when we all come together and learn from each other. With all that said, I hope to see you at a meeting soon.