Sunday, July 15, 2012

Washington, DC

Away from sunny Vancouver this week and off to Washington DC for the SP Richards supplier conference. This year I have Nabil, our VP of Finance and Operations, with me for a jam packed five days of learning, socializing and some R&R.

The conference is a highlight in the office products industry and brings together thousands of independent stationers and suppliers. Together we share information about customers, the economy and technology. This year, it felt like there was a focus on "grass roots," back-to-basics service and selling. Service and relationships with customers seems to be the main thrust right now in differentiating small companies from the large national players in the office products industry. Over the past several years the focus has been on technology and social media and although it's vitally important office products dealers master these skills, they are not the differentiators against big box competitors that service could be.

Washington was a welcome destination for a conference and a city I had always wanted to visit. Nabil and I took advantage of our down time by getting away from the massive Gaylord National complex we were staying at and visiting many of the famous sites "DC" has to offer.

A few highlights for us were Alexandria - one of the oldest cities in America, preserved like a flash back in time, and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum - simply amazing is all I can say. Did you know there are numerous Smithsonian Museums in DC and all are free to access?

DC was... inspiring for me. My take away learning was to continue focusing on innovation and the future while respecting and learning from your past.

Landing in Washington DC - Holy cow, our plane sure flies close to the White House

You gotta love cool history like this - time for a beer!

Alexandria - Beautiful architecture in this 300 year old town

300 year old French restaurant for dinner (The wine was not quite that old)

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - I could spend a week here!

Oh Canada!