After more than two years of COVID isolation, it feels good to be getting out of our bunkers and interacting with people again.
Last month, I had the great pleasure of attending the AGMA Annual Meeting, where executives from member companies got together in person for the first time since 2019. The 2020 meeting was canceled at the last minute due to COVID. Last year’s meeting was held virtually, with an electronic meeting room and videoconference presentations. But this year felt like a return to normal.
Held at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the event attracted well over 200 participants, including gear manufacturers, industry suppliers and guests. Although this wasn’t a record crowd, it was a healthy one, and there was plenty of networking, learning and collaboration going on. But more importantly, there was laughter, there was camaraderie and there was fun. In fact, this reporter observed quite a few of our advertisers, authors and long-time readers cutting loose on the dance floor (names are being withheld to protect the innocent).
It was good to see the gear industry come together in that way.
But the event was more than just fun and games. There were a number of presentations on future trends that will impact the industry, including topics like demographics, artificial intelligence, robotics, supply chain and the annual economic forecast by Jim Meil of ACT Research.
A number of deserving gear industry contributors also received awards at the event.
The late Wendy Young, president of Forest City Gear, who passed away in February, posthumously received the AGMA Chairman’s award, which is presented to individuals who have:
Contributed in a meaningful way to the promotion of the gear industry.
Acted above and beyond the call of duty to support AGMA.
Acted unselfishly by getting the job done.
Tirelessly supported and promoted the organization.
Advanced the goals of AGMA and the gear industry through work done on behalf of the organization.
Led or supported a major initiative with the organization.
Young’s award was accepted by her daughters Mindy, Kika and Appie, with husband Fred Young attending via videochat.
The Chairman’s Award was also presented to Cindy Bennett, in recognition of her years of service as the former Director of the AGMA Foundation.
“The AGMA is blessed to have always had outstanding leadership and guidance over its 106 years and the recognition of these industry leaders is no exception,” said Matthew Croson, AGMA President. “They all went above and beyond to support growth, foster innovation, and create positive, meaningful connections.”
In addition, the association presented its Hall of Fame Award to Martin Kapp of Kapp-Niles. “Martin Kapp is a true hall of famer, blessed with both technical ability and natural charm. He has worked hard to build a company that supports AGMA members’ innovation efforts, while maintaining a strong character—everyone recognizes Martin’s humble nature,” Croson said. “We wish Martin the very best as he enjoys his well-deserved retirement, while continuing to develop the next generation of Kapp leadership.”
Most everyone I talked to indicated to me that the annual meeting was a great success. Nearly every conversation was filled with enthusiasm and vigor. People are truly happy to be able to get together again. Lifelong friendships get built at meetings like this one, even among competitors. I witnessed the truth of that by seeing the interactions of the participants. And it’s not just the old timers, either. There were more than 50 first-time participants at this annual meeting, and I daresay that I also witnessed some lifelong friendships that have just begun.