In September, Reciprocity Road took to the highway to journey toward our first inaugural Summit held in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. Hosted by SanMar, Nike, and Seattle’s illustrious Image Source team, the event was filled with back-to-back strategy sessions, tours, and, of course, a camaraderie that defines the spirit of Reciprocity Road.
A foundational principal driving Reciprocity Road is transparency. The first evening kicked off with an unprecedented approach: a four-hour session in which each company presented a completely transparent and detailed overview of their business, profitability, and outlook. Anticipation mingled with uncertainty as each participant shared sales figures, profitability, growth strategies, technology challenges, and support structures. In an industry that rarely shares the details of their operating structures, this vulnerability cultivated an environment for comparative analysis to make each business stronger.
On Monday, the road led to a tour of the famous headquarters of Reciprocity partner SanMar. Hosted by Jeremy Lott, the tour included a behind-the-scenes look at the technology, product selection, and inventory processes that make this stellar giant a success. Tom Goos, Chair of the Board at PPAI and Reciprocity founding member, led a discussion between SanMar and Reciprocity on the future of the industry and the challenges and opportunities before us. During lunch, the Reciprocity Road members were paired with their inside account managers and, in the afternoon, a series of feedback sessions between Reciprocity and SanMar departments (featuring marketing, I.T., and sales) led to a spirited collaboration on marketing messaging, product recommendations, and process planning.
Tuesday, Scotland Thede, Director of Corporate Sales for Nike, led a campus tour of the Nike headquarters in Portland, OR. Scott provided an overview of the Nike merchandising principles and presented opportunities for corporate marketing through multiple Nike experiences.
Rod Brown of Made To Order, Inc. summed up the road trip with this reflection, “This trip, our first summit, was marked by a willingness to be open and vulnerable. Each Reciprocity Road member shed their reluctance to talk honestly about their business. They came to the meeting ready to discuss real solutions to hard problems. It’s this spark of honesty that makes ingenuity thrive; this is the very tenor we will continue with both distributor and supplier partners. It confirmed that we are proud to be traveling this road together.”
Reciprocity Road would like to thank Marty Lott, Jeremy Lott, the Image Source team (Tom Goos, Brian Haner, Jeff Holt), Tanya McKinney, Dan Tushar, Susan Rye, Ted Wright, Ann Klug, Lee Strom, Kimberly Kapustein, and Scotland Thede for their generous hospitality, warmth, and most of all, friendship. May the Road rise to meet you all.