This past March, the Food Industry Suppliers Associate (FISA) and Nelson-Jameson afforded Dakonya Freis, MRO Department Manager, and me the opportunity to attend the University of Industrial Distribution (UID). UID is a concentrated educational seminar focused on programming that relates to the unique needs of the industrial wholesale distribution industry. Any person working in the industrial distribution and supply industry is welcome to attend, but attendees’ companies must be a member of one of the over 30 trade or professional organizations that currently sponsor the UID program. As a member of FISA and an employee/owner of an industrial distributor, I felt that UID would provide me with an invaluable and exclusive opportunity to learn how to improve Nelson-Jameson’s procedures and performance.

The University of Industrial Distribution takes place annually over a 4-day span in early March on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). This year, approximately 500 participants from a very wide array of industries attended classes of their choosing that were led by distribution experts and educators.  Course topics varied in scope from broad to niche, but overall themes included finance, marketing, operations and management. Dakonya chose courses that closely related to her role in category management, and I gravitated toward courses that would help me gain a better perspective as to how to succeed as a distributor. The content of my courses was constructive and motivating, and my hope is to integrate modified-versions of some of the innovative strategies and suggested processes learned into current operational practices at Nelson-Jameson.

In addition, many of the lecturers were noted industry professionals with an excellent grasp on the issues currently facing industrial distributors and wholesalers.  Several of them have presented lectures at past FISA conferences, and others serve as professors at the top MBA programs in the United States. As many of you may know, it’s rare to find relevant business information and research from reputable sources that’s specific to distributorships. It’s this quality that makes UID unique as a practical developmental program.  The content learned by Dakonya and me wasn’t abstract or broadly-painted; it’s knowledge that’s immediately applicable to our roles at Nelson-Jameson.

Overall, UID encourages the critical-thinking and skill-development necessary for attendees to become leaders and catalysts for positive organizational change. If prudent, I definitely plan to attend the University of Industrial Distribution in 2013 and hope that other members of the NJ team will be able to join me.