How to overcome dealer challenges in finding the next generation of workers--as well as updating the mindsets of those already on the job--will be a special focus of the 2018 ProSales 100 Conference this coming Feb. 28-March 2 in San Antonio.

Four different sessions will address these issues:

  • Consultant Jason Forrest will explain why so many companies' training programs fail and give tips on how to make them succeed.
  • The members of our as-yet-unnamed ProSales/Dealers Choice Four Under 40 Class of 2018 will give tips on selling an LBM career to millennials. This session will be led by Bill Myrick, who at age 36 became COO of 84 Lumber and who went on to run ProBuild and, more recently, American Builders Supply.
  • Winning over employees is a big part of implementing lean operations. To that end, consultant Scott Morrison will look at recent lean projects implemented at BMC, Shaw/Stewart Lumber, and Shepley Lumber, including how they persuaded workers to embrace the changes.
  • What will it take to get more women into construction supply? Assistant editor Marisa Mendez will explore this and related topics with Natalia Dittmer, marketing director, TAL Holdings LLC; Ann Marie Chilcutt, owner, New Home Building Stores; and Thea Dudley, vice president of financial services, SRS Distribution.

The rest of the conference also will have a youthful focus. On the CEO panel, for instance, Tibbetts Lumber chairman Kyle Hooker is under 40, while the incoming CEO of Builders FirstSource, Chad Crow, is a member of generation X.

Other CEOs will appear on the mergers and acquisitions panel. It features Ruben Mendoza, president and CEO, Foundation Building Materials; and David Dittmer, CEO of TAL Holdings, the holding company for Tum-A-Lum Lumber and two other dealers. Michael Collins, a principal at Building Industry Advisors and ProSales' "Big Deals" columnist, will moderate.

Polar Explorer Ben Saunders
Leading Authorities Polar explorer Ben Saunders

The ProSales 100 Conference traditionally kicks off with a mind-expanding keynoter. For 2018, it'll be polar explorer Ben Saunders, the third person in history to ski solo to the North Pole and was leader of a 105-day roundtrip journey across Antarctica to the South Pole and back. He has covered more than 3,700 miles on foot in the Polar Regions since 2001. His appearance at the ProSales 100 Conference will take place just weeks after a new trip to Antarctica in which he will attempt to make the first solo, unsupported, and unassisted crossing of Antarctica.

In warmer climates, Saunders has given three TED Talks and has been called "a master storyteller" by that group. At the start of his appearance on BBC Radio's famed Desert Island Discs interview show, Saunders was quoted as someone who "specializes in dragging heavy things around cold places"--great training for someone who also is an endurance athlete.

The conference's theme in 2018 is “Making the Best Better.” Aside from the sessions reference above, Mark Boud, chief economist at Metrostudy, will give his group's forecasts for 2018, and Wheelhouse 2020's Scott Ericson and Jennifer Swick will reveal "What You Really Need to Do When Going Digital."

The event is open to dealers and distributors; only vendors who sign up as sponsors can attend. To register, visit here. To become a sponsor, contact Dan Colunio.