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Always On: The Future of Chemical Distribution and Annual Meeting 2023

Our industry had some exciting and important news to share at the 2023 Annual Meeting. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) is now ACD – the Alliance for Chemical Distribution. I was delighted – as Vice Chair of the ACD Board and the 2023 Meeting Chair – to be the one to kick off the conversation about this change that is so critical to our industry’s future. But rest assured, there was a lot of other important work going on at Annual Meeting that is just as crucial to ensuring that our industry’s future is more dynamic, impactful, and successful than any of us could imagine.

I know that those who attended the 2023 Annual Meeting in beautiful Amelia Island, FL noticed that I ordered in much better weather than last year. Comfortable days bookended by stunning sunrises and gorgeous sunsets provided a perfect backdrop for the critical work, networking, socializing, and volunteering we packed into just a few short days.

One of the most important components of that work was delving more deeply into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Supporting DEI in our workplaces is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also essential to the future of our workforce and can deliver bottom-line results. If you missed Keith Wyche’s outstanding general session presentation, I urge you to visit the recording of the ACD Annual Meeting opening session and Keith’s keynote presentation on “Jump-Starting Your DEI Initiatives: Diversity is NOT Enough.”

The members of our most recent graduating class of Emerging Leaders, introduced by ACD Board Chair Ed Boss, represent the future of chemical distribution and mark 10 years of a program that allows us to pass on the legacy we have all built, while fostering a culture of continuous progress and innovation. The past year saw remarkable growth in the Emerging Leaders program, with the number of participants doubling. It's so exciting to see the dedication of the next generation of ACD leaders.

No doubt this first class of ACD Emerging Leaders have already come to know that our industry is “Always On,” the theme of the 2023 Annual Meeting. These up-and-coming leaders have had a front-row view as our industry has continued to deliver despite the supply chain roller coaster the pandemic has left in its wake, not to mention natural disasters, economic shifts, and the litany of regulations and the compliance requirements proliferating out of Washington, D.C.

Speaking of Washington, D.C., we were honored to welcome two Capitol Hill veterans – former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) and former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) – for an unfiltered conversation. ACD President and CEO Eric Byer led a discussion that provided important insights on the state of our country today, ranging from the messages sent by voters with the Nov. 7, general election results and next year’s Presidential contest to the Israel-Hamas war, the state of the U.S. House of Representatives, and more. I’m heartened to hear that, despite the fact that our politics may be a mess, these two seasoned veterans still believe that the future of our country is bright.

While being “Always On” makes for many long days and the occasional interrupted family dinner or vacation, it also means we make the time for networking, collaborating with our industry colleagues, and giving back to the communities where we live and work. At this year’s Annual Meeting, we had outstanding opportunities to participate in all of those activities, with a thriving business marketplace and pickle ball, golf, backwater fishing, and kayaking to enjoy with the more than 600 chemical distribution industry professionals who attended. To cap it all off, our group engaged in a little friendly competition to build bikes that were donated to the YMCA that supports children and families in Nassau County.

Next year, the 2024 Annual Meeting will be held in La Quinta, CA from November 11-14. I hope that you are as excited as I am to see what next year will bring. See you there!

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