First Impression From the Southeastern Fastener Association Trade show
Work hard, play hard… it’s a motto that some of the world’s most influential people live by. This past Monday through Wednesday, I attended the Southeastern Fastener Association Trade Show in Greenville, SC, and after being among some of the country’s most renowned individuals in the fastener industry, I can whole-heartedly say, that they truly live by this motto too!
Before I dive deep into my experience there, you’re probably wondering, “What’s a fastener?” Well, a fastener is a piece of material/hardware that affixes two or more objects together. Think…. screws, rivets, bolts, etc. They are all the things that can be joined together to form a permanent connection (or joint) on a piece of material. Now how do I know all of this? Honest answer? Google! Lol! You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this industry in the first place… if you know me, you know my professional background mainly consists of healthcare administration, and customer service. Well, I was recruited by my current company on LinkedIn, and boy… I sure am lucky to have been given this opportunity to work for such an amazing company like SmartCert. In the words of our co-founder Lonni, “our team is small but mighty” and in my words, we’re ready to tackle one of the biggest issues in the supply chain industry, by storm!
Now back to my experience. I was invited to this event by the lovely Co-founders of SmartCert, Lyndon Lattie, and Lonni Kieffer. Our team is remote and being that I’m the new kid on the block (and they’ve already met everyone else on the team) I was up next! So, I caught a flight to Greenville-Spartanburg regional airport and took a complimentary hotel shuttle to the Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center, and that is where the magic begins.
The staff at the hotel were very helpful, friendly, and hospitable. I had a ton of questions upon my arrival and being that I’m not only new to my job, but the industry as well, I was talking a lot out of nervousness and fatigue. The staff got me in my room asap, and about two hours later, I was embracing my managers in a warm welcome/nice to meet you hug, while also meeting two amazing people (Mallory Nichols and Brad Burel) from one of our best customers, Advance Components, at the same time. It was very nerve-wracking, but at the same time, it was also an exciting and refreshing moment.
After some friendly chit-chat, it was time to tidy up and head out for dinner. We parted ways and met up soon after for dinner at Tupelo Honey. We had some great conversations and got to know each other, and the night was going great until we lost our car! Ahhhh lol, but long story short, we found the car and we made it back to the SEFA Welcome Reception. The Welcome Reception was a casino themed, open bar, event where you’re essentially able to network and connect with everyone who was attending the trade show, but it was more so in a casual, open, and free-flowing nature. By the way, if you’ve read this far already, thanks so much! I wasn’t expecting this post to be this long, but here we are… Anyways, the reception was very small with around 50-60 people there total, and I was the youngest and the newest member in the room, and to be quite honest, it wasn’t a huge deal, for the people there, to see me walk in the room. No one really glanced or batted an eye at my arrival (being that I’m the odd girl out; I kind of expected that kind of greeting) but I was welcomed yet again with open arms!
During the welcome reception I introduced myself, while also getting to know some of the country’s most recognized trail blazers and inspirational figures in this industry. Rosa E. Hearn aka Rosa the Riveter, and Mallory Nichols are a couple of names you should remember. Not only were these ladies two of the humblest, friendliest, nicest women I have ever met, but when I say they are very intelligent on all things in the fastener industry… I truly mean that. I was beyond impressed listening to them, and my goals for wanting to know more about the industry shot even higher.
Now that you’ve gotten a background of some of the great people that I met, I will continue with the experience. The Welcome Reception ended with a friendly gathering around the hotel fire pit. Conversations were flying everywhere! From talking about the industry, to friends connecting for the first time since Covid stopped all events, it was a great sight to see. I indulged in plenty of conversation myself and formed some good friendships and connections along the way. The night ended early as everyone was getting prepared for the following events on Day 2.
I didn’t participate in many events on Day 2 because I spent most of the day getting to know my manager, Lonni. We had a few morning meetings to attend, and then we had dinner at a restaurant called Home Team BBQ and oh man was it delicious!
Day 3 came around, and it was time for the Tabletop, which is the portion of the event where everyone sets up their tables with goodie bags and information and essentially tries to get customers/sell their product(s). This was absolutely the most nerve-wracking portion of the event. Given that I had only been in my current position for 8 days, I had no prior knowledge of fasteners or anything of the sort, and even though I wasn’t expected to sell the product, I still wanted to do my best and make my team proud. The nerves did get the best of me by the end of the event; however, I went in there and did my best!
The event wrapped up with a marketing presentation and a panel discussion with some of the most prestigious members in the industry. Listening to Anthony, Lee, and Mike speak about the industry was very interesting and you could genuinely feel the passion behind their words. The event wrapped up after the panel discussion, and despite the good times we were having connecting and networking with each other, you could tell that everyone was ready to go home. The room cleared quickly and shortly after that; everyone I had interacted with was gone. There’s no place like home, and that motto will always be true!
Overall, this experience was one for the books, and I need to buy me a couple of fastener books so I can fit in more next time! Lol! I’m truly grateful for the current leadership that my employer has. Without them, I would’ve never gotten this experience; I would’ve never been able to showcase what I can do on the spot, and I would’ve never been given the opportunity to really LEARN and GROW into this industry. I’m very thankful to be working here at Aramid, and I can’t wait to see where the future takes us. Thank you again, Lonni and Lyndon for the invitation, and thank you to all members of the SEFA conference, who welcomed me with open arms! Until next time!
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