A Quick Intro by Josh Davis, PA Group marketing director
Shortly after signing on as a Strategic Partner with the Americas Apparel Producers’ Network (AAPN), we were excited to travel to Miami, FL to experience our first AAPN event — the pro:Americas 2016 Annual Conference. The event was held June 15-17 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Miami.
As the marketing director at PA Group, I make sure we sponsor and participate in quite a few associations representing various vertical industries in manufacturing, distribution, fashion, and retail (you can see their logos at the bottom of our Company Profile page). We love being involved in these associations — as a sponsor to offer financial support to their causes, as an educational partner to offer software and technology expertise when they need a speaker for events and workshops, and as active members who attend industry events and build relationships with industry professionals. Every association we participate in has its own vibe, and if I were to choose a few descriptive words to communicate the vibe I felt at the AAPN Conference, they might look like this — open, engaged, passionate, electric, eye-opening.
Luckily, we decided to take along a camera and capture the event on video. So don’t take my word for it…have a look for yourself:
<<– Also, please read through this excellent summary put together by AAPN Managing Director, Mike Todaro: –>>
The largest meeting in the history of the AAPN: 220 people from nearly 130 organizations owned by companies in 15 foreign nations representing every step in the supply, all 30 links.
Opened by AAPN president Juan Zighelboim of the apparel factory TexOps in El Salvador. This is the second meeting Juan has put together for our network. We feared we could never top the 2015 summit…but we did.
AAPN Secretary/Treasurer Tony Anzovino of Haggar presented a series of slides on trade data. We have never done this before and it was excellent. He then shared his Two Year Plan for AAPN, with a focus on how we can raise the collective ‘Apparel IQ’ of all members. This is a very bold idea, 100% Tony’s and one he practices with his own staff at Haggar. He has set us on a new track, one that will grow the membership, raise the profile of the region and increase the value to all.
Keynote speaker Sarah Robb O’Hagan, former CEO of Gatorade and Equinox, spoke about EXTREME YOU LEADERSHIP with these amazing quotes:
“You have to be extremely focused to achieve extraordinary results.”
“The sharper your focus the better you will be.”
“Narrow your focus but diversify your team.”
“Don’t take the eye off the ball.”
“Know who you are and what you stand for, especially when the landscape is extremely changing.”
“Stand for something, don’t just be a brand, become a specialist team.”
“Don’t chase the market, reframe it around who you are.”
“You have to break yourself to make yourself.”
Above, you see John Strasburger wrapping up the AAPN ASIA/ AMERICAS REPORT CARD 2016. Four years after his first survey, John revised his questionnaire and reran the survey. The gaps closed, the scores grew closer, and the positive comments about the Americas increased. At one point, John asked “Are you a maker or a
supplier?” Good question to ask ourselves!! In order to really become a supplier we have to engage and be active part of the supply chain – and that very supply chain of the Americas was in this room.
Every year, Kurt Cavano of Infor spends one to two hours updating us on internet break throughs, primarily in direct-to-consumer. This year he shared 20 reasons why all of us need to under- stand the big picture of what Amazon in doing. He called his talk CONNECT THE DOTS and he connected all 20. He shared two forecasts about Amazon: “Walmart could be the only retailer that survives Amazon”
“Amazon will be the top apparel retailer by 2020”
Philip Poel, GAFTI Board of Directors and Managing Director, Under Armour, presented the background on GAFTI (Global Apparel, Footwear & Textile Initiative). This initiative, started by VF’s Tom Nelson, is a herculean effort to bring order and standardization to testing of all kinds. AAPN is joining this initiative who’s mission is to create global standards in product safety, compliance and sustainability.
Jesus Canahuati, President of Elcatex in Honduras shared a $2.5 million study of investments in and the competitive advantages of textiles in Honduras. This is a ground breaking study, one that provides a template not just for other nations but for regions within the Americas and the hemisphere itself. The knee jerk reaction to those misinformed about the Americas is, “oh, the sweatshops”. No-one has ever organized all the data across the range of metrics to come back with the cold, hard facts (not that those who attack care about the facts). This study lays out the SWOT of the Americas with
a depth of strengths and opportunities I have not seen in my 15 years in the region.
Jim Hardy of Under Armour shared how he organized and grew his staff; eliminated multiple information systems; projects growth; his mandate to discover yarn and textile innovations; his program for developing people; and above all else the call for investment in and the long term commitment to the Americas. Jim was clearly the star of this summit. He has brought stability to sourcing and vision to his team, which in his view includes his suppliers. This was one of the most important supply chain talks we have ever had on our agenda.
Jon Fee of Alston & Bird closed our agenda with his usual high energy, funny yet tightly focused deciphering of all trade laws and pending legislation, especially TPP. He also profiled the madness in Washington during this election year. Nothing beats watching the faces of those who have never heard Jon speak!
As AAPN Board member Ron Roach of Contempora Fabrics wrote, “Our meeting was the best event/meeting I have ever been to…..Every speaker was current and relevant to our supply chain…Sarah [Robb O’Hagan] was probably the best we have ever had….I took so much from her presentation…it was almost like I could not wait to get back to cause disruption! There was truly not one weak leak in this program…Just outstanding”.
I’ve been in the industry 26 years, 22 of them here at AAPN, plus corporate America for 14 years, and on military active duty 11 years and in those 51 working years, I’ve never seen a group like ours or a program like ours – in one place at one time – never.
You have to be exponentially smarter and more powerful than me to think you could skip this summit or any that have preceded it. THIS, as we discussed and as the industry will see, was a tipping point for each of us there, as people, as companies, as chains, as the Americas.
As Sara Robb O’Hagan, founder of the “Extreme Living Movement” said in opening the first day, “lines are blurring; we’re all technology companies; needs are evolving faster than we are. It takes extreme you, extreme team and extreme organization to keep up. You have to break yourself to make yourself and it should feel uncomfortable”.
This summit was above all else uncomfortable but forewarned is forearmed and once again, as a network, as THE supply chain of the Americas, we were warned with the cold, hard facts.