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Mike Root

Local Rep Chapters Are Great Resources For Furniture Reps

June 11, 2012

This past week I drove up to Minneapolis to participate in the North Central Home Furnishings Representative's Association (NCHFRA) annual golf outing and awards dinner. As president of the International Home Furnishings Rep Association (IHFRA), I want to make sure the local chapters understand what a great support vehicle IHFRA can be. They were kind enough to let me tell our story to the group after a day of golf. The upcoming IHFRA newsletter will give more details for IHFRA members to read about this.

What I wanted to share in this column is what a great asset a local chapter is for reps that are lucky enough to have one. In Nebraska, we do not have a local chapter so I am deemed an at-large member. But many reps are in areas such as Minnesota that have a rep network. The NCHFRA was very active when the Minneapolis market was in its heyday. Over the last couple of years with the hard work of guys like the current directors of Doug Baines, Stu Sinykin, and Wayne Baumgart, the chapter is becoming much more active again.

Besides the golf outing, NCHFRA have slated other social events through the year. And these events are not just for reps. Several retailers and industry suppliers were present enjoying the camaraderie of a nice day out on the golf course with their rep friends. It is a great way for those on all sides of the industry to get to know one another in a less formal setting than sitting across the desk during a sales presentation.

Chapters like these are great ways to make connections with other reps, hear about new lines or dealers, and for reps to get some support. The life of the rep carries its own set of challenges and to develop industry friends that work in the same industry is a great resource for the independent factory rep.

Our job at IHFRA is to support the rep network with great benefits, training, and other solutions to problems that reps face across the country. With our buying clout of over 1700 members, we have been able to negotiate some terrific deals as well as get exposure to resources that local chapters or individual reps would never find on their own.

But the job of the local chapters like NCHFRA are just as important to help reps build a network of peers, to create events and an environment that allows reps and retailers to socialize and get to know each other outside of the work environment. People do business with people they know like and trust. The local chapters are a great way of making these introductions across the entire industry.

If you would like more information on a local rep chapter that is close to you, check out www.IHFRA.org or give Jennifer or Kathy a call at 336-889-3920. If you don't have a local chapter but would be interested in starting one please send an email to kparks@ihfra.org and we will schedule a telephone call to discuss with you what it will take.
I am thankful Doug and Wayne invited me up for the event. I met some new friends, renewed old acquaintances, and gather a newfound appreciation for the importance of a vibrant local chapter. As always, feel free to leave your positive comments below.