Keeping the Round Table Discussion Alive Year-round
Jay Williams, Budget Box Mobile Storage
Four years ago, in a smoky cigar bar in Las Vegas's Caesar's Palace I met a group of guys that have since become some of my closest confidants. That was my first NPSA Convention, and I was there solely to evaluate software packages. I really didn't feel that the organization had anything to offer me beyond making it convenient for me to evaluate several different packages in the same place in a short amount of time. I was wrong.
My decision made, I hit the cigar bar with some other attendees to blow off a little steam, when a funny thing happened. I found that these guys and I had a lot in common. We had similar concerns and spoke the same language. Software, collections, purchasing, advertising, etc., etc., their eyes didn't glaze over like my wife's do at the mention of these topics. I learned from them that night.
The Wingnuts: Doug Creel, Eric Leger, Jay Williams & Martian Padial
Doug Creel (Mobile Attic), Martin Padial (Work Box), Eric Leger (LC Container) and I have been meeting at the annual conventions for four years now. Every year we have a lot of laughs together, and exchange a lot of information.
The last night of the convention in Nashville this past October, propping up barstools in the Sports Bar at the Opryland Hotel, one of us had a bright idea. We all agreed that the Round Table discussion at the end of the show was our favorite and most valuable activity each year. But, it's not without its limitations. It's a large room, full of a lot of people (some direct competitors), and time is limited. How great would it be if we could form a group of regionally diverse Container Guys, get together throughout the year, and exchange information and ideas? A group within a group. Lightning struck, and our group, the Wingnuts was officially born (long story on the name). We decided that night that we would go beyond the Round Table, and actually serve as each other's informal Board of Advisors.
Me first, me first. The Wingnuts visited my operation in Tulsa in November, just a month after the show. And, as though preparing for a Board Meeting, I assembled three years of financial statements, projected P&L's and Balance Sheets out 5 years, and prepared an Executive Summary. I bared all. So did they. Over two days, we scrutinized each other's business histories, current positions, and future plans. Unlike bankers, lawyers, CPA's etc that carry their own agenda's, we actually had one another's best interest at heart. We all left the weekend with long lists of action items. We all benefitted from the exchangeand mixed in a lot of fun in as well. Sometime this spring we'll group again at another location.
As the Vegas convention approaches in May, I'd encourage others to consider a similar relationship with other NPSA members. If you've attended many NPSA events you probably already know several operators from various parts of the country. You might be surprised what you could learn from them in an open exchange. To quote John Winger from Stripes, “We are all very different, but we have one thing in common. We're mutants, and there's something wrong with us. Something very, very wrong with us.”