From October 15-17, adhesives and sealants industry executives from the top companies came together in Naples, Fla., for the annual Adhesive and Sealant Council (ASC) Executive Leadership Conference. The event kicked off the evening of October 15 with an opening reception and dinner, where attendees gathered to network and enjoy the warm southern Florida weather.

Tuesday, October 16, began with a networking breakfast, followed by a program overview from Chuck Williams, ASC chair. Next, Stephen Melman, director of economic services at the National Association of Home Builders, gave the talk on “Housing and Economic Outlook after Tax Reform.” Melman reported that growth is currently strong, with 2.7% predicted for next year, but the 2017 tax cuts President Trump implemented will likely cause growth to sputter by 2020.

Next, Metrick Houser, director of raw materials and energy at International Paper, talked about “Finding Value in the White Space.” He said companies need to offer value to their customers by asking them what they need and finding ways to help, rather than simply presenting a product. Having conversations with customers before problems arise is key to finding the “white space,” or the unmet need(s) that customers have.

After a networking lunch, body language expert Janine Driver provided a lively and interactive discussion on “You Say More than You Think.” Driver got the audience to their feet demonstrating how various ways of holding your arms or crossing your legs can send a much different message than you might intend. For example, crossing your arms can mean you’re bored, disinterested or powerful, depending on how high they are held (the higher they are held, the more powerful you’ll be perceived).

Attendees finished the day under sunny skies with a reception and dinner on the hotel’s putting greens, followed by an after-dinner networking lounge.

Wednesday, October 17, began with a networking breakfast, after which Ellen Burts-Cooper, senior managing partner at Improve Consulting, as well as a training group and faculty member at Case Western University, presented on “Trust: The Essential Factor for Developing and Sustaining High Performing Talent.” She cited that 96% of engaged employees trust their management, which then makes work and easier and more productive. What’s more, cohesive teams have trust, which makes relationships in the workplace stable and predictable.

Next up to the podium was Jim Owens, president and CEO of H.B. Fuller, giving a talk entitled “High Performance Teams and Opportunities and Challenges with Post Merger Integration.” With 32 years of experience in the adhesives industry, Owens provided background on his time in the industry, as well as details about how H.B. Fuller integrates the companies it acquires. He said that leaders of both companies involved in the transaction are present from the first day and beyond to support the integration. In addition, both due diligence teams and integration teams are formed before the deal is closed to help ensure a smooth transition and integration process.

Matt Thornhill, managing partner at the Institute for Tomorrow, spoke about “Winning Tomorrow: How ASC Can Leverage the Future We Already Know.” Thornhill’s humorous presentation touched on the cultural differences between millennials, Baby Boomers and Generation X employees. He said that millennials aren’t the reason that workplace culture is changing—they are the ones who are bringing the change. Companies can adapt to the changes by updating the rules, he said, such as relaxing a very specific dress code to simply requiring employees to dress appropriately.

The afternoon continued with an offering of several excursions, including a round of golf and an airboat tour. The Chairman’s Reception and Dinner, which took place on the Naples Princess luxury yacht, brought an end to another successful and informative conference.

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