The past three days I have been in Toronto at the Annual General Meeting for our buying group, CIS.
This is a group of 65 office supply companies who collectively negotiate with suppliers to receive the best prices. The same group I wrote about on September 25th.
The AGM is a busy time and well worth attending. This year I brought Darrin our Controller, Bill from Purchasing and Cindy from Sales. We spent one day at a supplier hosted trade show, picking up bags and bags of free samples and testing out cool new products for 2009. One of the best new products was the 3M MPRO110 Projector (I'll discuss it in my next update). Another day was spent on workshops. Each of our staff spent time learning about their special interests, from Sales and Marketing to Purchasing and Accounting.
The highlight for me was speaking as a guest presenter on the topic of Environmental Corporate Practices. I had prepared a 30 minute PowerPoint, and shared how Costless Express made changes to be Canada's first Carbon Neutral Office Supplier. It was quite rewarding to see some of our group embrace my presentation and become enrolled in making similar changes in their business. "Thanks, I just needed to see how someone else did it for me to start," was what one owner said to me. That's what I was hoping for, an opportunity to share our experience and educate others on how to become more environmentally friendly.
Outside of all the classes and speeches, we were also treated like royalty with cocktail receptions, dinners and impromptu meetings in the lobby bar. I have been to many of these meetings and so has Darrin, but for Bill and Cindy it was a first and they really learned a lot and enjoyed themselves. The next meeting is in New Orleans; I'm sure I can drag myself there!