by: Steve Allegrezza
Being part of the home furnishings industry and having the privilege of working for IHFRA, my calendar is often dotted with appointments, meetings, and trade shows. However, the annual Home Furnishing Representatives of Michigan (HFRM) golf outing is one event that is typically not on my calendar, or at least not until recently.
This year’s gathering was especially significant as it marked the chapter’s 75th anniversary. As IHFRA nears its 90th anniversary, I saw this as an opportunity to connect with the Michigan chapter to see what they contribute to their lasting success.
As I look back on my recent trip, I came away with a new appreciation for the similarities between the role of a rep and a hockey player.
Here’s why. The night before the outing, I received an invitation from the chapter president, Michael Neros, to be part of a friendly pickup hockey game. To say that I was out of my league was an understatement, as I found myself playing alongside a group of incredibly talented athletes, including former pros and collegiate stars.
With each stride across the ice, the synchrony between the game’s swift movements and the dynamic nature of being a sales rep was uncanny. Just as a seasoned defenseman skillfully anticipates plays before they even materialize, a successful sales rep navigates challenges by foreseeing potential scenarios, effectively communicating, and adapting seamlessly to changing circumstances. This swift adaptation, akin to altering tactics on the fly, is often the key to victory on both the ice and in business.
Throughout the game, the importance of strategic guidance and leadership was made brilliantly clear. As if reading my thoughts, Michael, my metaphorical (and literal) defenseman, exemplified these traits.
Like the seasoned pro he is, Michael adjusted his strategy to complement my skill level, ultimately orchestrating an extraordinary play that resulted in a goal. This shared victory underscored the essence of our profession—leadership, teamwork, and the art of facilitating success, even in uncharted territories.
This pick-up hockey game with Michael acted as an unexpected allegory for the sales rep’s journey. Just as the defenseman passes the puck not to where you currently stand, but where your success awaits, the journey of a sales rep involves foreseeing opportunities, leading with innovation, and embracing adaptation.
As for the golf outing, it was nothing short of spectacular. With over 100 industry professionals in attendance, including local chapter members, retailers, manufacturers, and even IHFRA members from other chapters, the event was a testament to the HFRM’s influence and significance both locally and within the industry.
The sun shone brightly on the green as we networked, exchanged ideas, and shared stories. It was a beautiful reminder that while the industry thrives on competition, it is the spirit of collaboration that truly propels us forward.
What struck me most about the HFRM is its remarkable blueprint for a successful local chapter. With around 40 active members, the chapter exemplifies engagement and a willingness to share best practices. This collective commitment to improvement directly benefits retailers, enhancing the quality of service and support they receive.
As I look back on the anniversary celebration, I can’t help but think that the HFRM’s unity, shared knowledge, and dedication should serve as an inspiration for other existing chapters, or for IHFRA members who might consider starting new chapters across the nation.
In conclusion, the Home Furnishing Representatives of Michigan’s annual golf outing was an unforgettable experience that perfectly blended leisure, networking, best practices, and celebration.
If you’re a representative based in Michigan or the surrounding areas, I strongly encourage you to consider joining this remarkable local chapter. The HFRM’s website, www.hfrmichigan.com, is a treasure trove of information, and you can reach out to them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
As I look ahead to the next chapter event, I’m excited to see how the HFRM continues to set the bar high for industry associations, fostering meaningful connections that make our profession even more vibrant.