Excitement! A First-Timer's Experience at PPAI Las Vegas

Jacob Bolanda, Sales

I started writing this on January 9, 2020. We were just days away from the Vegas show and I still had no idea what to expect. While I had the privilege of attending ASI Chicago, the hype built around PPAI Las Vegas was insurmountable compared to that of Chicago’s show, not only internally but all over social media, in my emails, and just talking with fellow suppliers and our distributors. Granted, the anticipation to this might have been heightened due to others’ knowledge of me having my 21st birthday while we were there. However, there was still plenty of professional build-up being put on the event and I was unsure what to think. As someone who has never been to Las Vegas, has had very little experience traveling for business, and is still learning proper “social cues” I was excited and nervous for the opportunities to meet people I had previously only known through phone calls and emails. I was truly ecstatic to showcase our product to people who have not known the Maple Ridge brand. I was grateful for the time I would have to bond and grow with my team as well as humbled to learn more about our industry. Overall, I didn’t know what to expect, but kept an open mind to others and their ideas—while hopefully maintaining a closed wallet.

Here are my takeaways from a “First Timer” experience:

I was graciously offered the opportunity to walk the floor on opening morning. With the overwhelming amount of people and booths, I found it difficult to see everything I wanted to see and at one point was aimlessly wandering around simply looking at booths that were attractive.

Being in the booth was a blast. My main duty was to capture attention and then retain it with our fun “Everyone’s a Winner” wheel. We used a spinner wheel where participants would win $50 off their next order, a chance to win $500 cash, or a crisp $20 bill on the spot. It was awesome to watch people’s faces light up with excitement over a wheel. People would find themselves in our booth indulging in all the sweet options that we as a company have to offer. People talked about past, present, and future projects and products with us. Saying how our products have helped and how they will continue to use them was humbling news to hear. In a warehouse of thousands of suppliers I found great pride and accomplishment in having distributors choose us. I idolized my coworkers for their 8 hours of standing and smiling with high energy and no complaining. During the first day I had left to sit down on a nearby bench, and while I sat there rubbing my aching feet it occurred to me that these women were wearing heels and still going strong. They motivated me to be the best version of myself that I could be.

I was able to attend many educational and networking events including Skucon and Spark. Skucon was an amazing way to start the week of the show, as well as a motivational tool to bring home after the show. I was mesmerized by some of the speakers while they indulged me with their knowledge. At the Spark event I connected with a group of people who were around my age. We shared stories, ideas, and just enjoyed the presence of one another, all while coming together to fill over 500 bags of supplies and goodies for local teachers.

While I went to PPAI for the tradeshow and to celebrate what Maple Ridge has to offer, I left collaborating with fellow suppliers and distributor partners, meeting people who I have only ever known through phone calls and emails, and making lasting relationships with people I otherwise would have never met. I highly anticipate next year's event and look forward to a successful 2020!