Episode 33 | Road to Connect
On June 16, CES executives, managers, sales representatives, and more from across the country will gather at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida.
But that’s not all; on June 18, CES invites customers and over 50 industry-leading manufacturers to join in for a Counter Day unlike any other. More than 2,000 electrical professionals will be in attendance.
Take a sneak peek into Connect 2022, which combines the largest CES conference and Counter Day in the company’s history. CES employees reveal the incredible events that attendees can look forward to and the hard work that goes into them.
CES Perseveres Through COVID
Previously the North American Managers Conference (NAMC), the popular bi-annual company gathering, was rebranded “CES Connect” for 2022! (Learn more about the history of the conference, which started in 2013, here.)
But due to COVID-19, it has actually been four years since the last conference.
“Before COVID hit, we were just a few days away from opening registration to everybody for the event,” said Director of Events Christine DeMartino. “We were getting ready to start advertising to get everyone excited about the event. That’s when everything started to freeze up.”
Senior Marketing Manager Leigh Ann Moltz said, “We had project plans and had already worked out our vendors. We were working on sponsorships, designs, timelines, and site visits. Our team was full steam ahead.”
Moltz hoped that, at worst, CES would slightly postpone plans, but the pandemic continued.
“CES always kept a close eye on the pandemic, especially when it was brand new and hitting the U.S.,” said Creative Director Juan Villalba. “When we closed the office in March, everyone realized this pandemic was not going away quickly. But we didn’t give up; we kept close relationships with our partners to see if we could still hold the conference.”
Chief Marketing Officer Thomas McShane and other executives discussed the situation and knew that they had to put everyone’s health first. They made the final decision to cancel the conference in March 2020. The headquarters in Dallas, Texas, closed on March 13.
Despite the new challenges of working from home, employees learned many lessons during the shutdown. Moltz and Villalba both spoke about finding ways to continue good work communication and keeping their bonds with coworkers. They also found a new work-life balance and a greater appreciation for friends and family.
“What I’ve learned these past two years due to the ever-changing rules worldwide is that you need a safe space within your family and friends. They are your constant that helps you ride out the storm,” said Villalba.
“As a working mom that commutes 45 minutes one way, working from home created a work-life balance that I didn’t have before. And I have definitely found ways to maintain that since returning to the office,” said Moltz.
“June 3 of 2018 was our last day of the previous NAMC event, and we all just assumed that in two years, we’d be back together,” said McShane. “It’s going to be 1,474 days since we’ve all been together in a room again. You realize those opportunities don’t come about very often, and it means more when you don’t know if it will happen again.”
Fortunately, McShane, DeMartino, and General Counsel Meg Shockley worked together to make sure that nearly all the investment in the 2020 conference would be put toward Connect 2022.
Now learn how this upcoming event will be even better than before.
The Largest CES Event is Back on Track
McShane said the technology for the event “will blow people’s minds,” including a 150-foot screen, projections mapping, and a digital slat wall.
During the first two days of the conference, employees will come together for general sessions, keynote speeches, presentations, and networking events. Attendees will learn about the company’s recent success, current business, and future direction. There’s even a chance for employees to submit questions to C-suite members for the Fireside Chat through Slido.
But the third day will be unlike anything before. This exciting Counter Day event invites customers to attend for the first time. Visitors can meet CES employees, visit manufacturers’ trade booths, and take advantage of exclusive show specials.
Additionally, everyone can experience three immersive Application Centers. Residential, jobsite, and commercial spaces showcase multiple new innovative products and their unique features within realistic settings. Participating manufacturers will surely get a significant boost in visibility and interest from these displays.
Three Unforgettable Evening Events at CES Connect 2022
CES employees will likely talk about the end-of-day entertainment for years to come. McShane explained how each evening has a different theme.
The first evening, called Rhythm of the Night, is a chance to break the ice and let loose. It features multiple game shows within a game show, and all revolve around music.
The second night, named Bets on the Beach, revolves around networking and building relationships as everyone plays casino games.
And the third night is “without question the most exciting,” according to McShane. Everyone will head to one of Orlando’s premier theme parks.
“What I’m most excited for is seeing over 2,000 people back together celebrating each other and what the business has accomplished over the last four years, through all of the adversity and challenges,” said McShane.
Putting It All Together for Connect 2022 — and Why It’s Worth It
The CES Events, Marketing, and Creative teams are more energized than ever to ensure the event exceeds expectations.
“I think everyone thought we’d just wait until 2022 and continue with the same plans,” said DeMartino. “But we started our planning all over again in 2020, and we’ve revamped everything to make 2022 even better.”
Villalba followed, “It’s a big challenge, but the benefits outweigh the challenges. It’s an opportunity to get everyone under one roof and celebrate because having over 600 branches in North America is a tremendous feat.”
“Wrapping up the conference, you’re on cloud nine,” said Moltz. “You walk away with such a sense of accomplishment because of the joy on people’s faces and excitement in their voices.”
And McShane couldn’t be more proud or appreciative.
“A big thank you to many for all the time and effort since coming back into the office,” said McShane. “And a huge congratulations — everything about CES Connect displays our teams’ talent. Without them, none of this is possible.”
McShane ended with, “We want to show our gratitude. To thank everybody that’s taken this business to the next level over the last four years.”
Connect 2022’s theme, “Connect, Discover, Inspire,” perfectly describes what is sure to be the most energizing City Electric Supply event to date!
Visit CESconnect.com for more information.