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Vines and Vision

The HTSA Fall Conference looks toward a successful future for its members.

The last time HTSA members got together for a conference was last October in Dallas, TX, which is where this year’s Fall Conference was also supposed to happen. But like everything else in 2020, plans had to change. After canceling their Spring Conference in March, the buying group held their 2020 Fall Conference virtually last week.

Despite its digital nature, there were many similarities to the in-person event, including HTSA executive director Jon Robbins opening the show with a “State of the Union” keynote that summarized the very unique year-that-was.

HTSA executive director Jon Robbins gives the “State of the Union” keynote during the virtual Fall Conference.

Pandemic Planning

Back in March, right before the shutdown, the group was able to produce the HTSA Lighting Fundamentals Training Modules and Certification Exam. Then, as the industry began closing down, HTSA leaned on their strongest attribute — education — hosting a number of roundtables and happy hours. Additionally, they also hosted three Relationship Science “calling editions,” with more than 150 participants.

At that same time, they began asking their dealer members to provide three-month rolling forecasts, so that HTSA’s vendor partners could understand what the business looked like on a 90-day forecast. That continues today, with 40 dealers activity contributing to the 90-day rolling projections. The most recent report from the beginning of October has dealers predicting an increase of business in November of 7.6 percent. The vendor partners also shared their sales information with HTSA, with business up an aggregate of 15.1 percent over last year.

With the industry doing well, the goal has become how best to continue its success.

A Swinging Keynote

The second keynote of the event was delivered by HTSA’s chief learning architect Keith Esterly and was intriguingly named “Let Go of the Vine!”

“Let’s talk about Tarzan’s vines,” said Esterly. “What if Tarzan never lets go of the first vine. He doesn’t get far. It takes two things to be the Vine King of the Jungle — commit to grab the first vine, and the let go of it to get to the second vine.”

The vine concept comes from EOS (Entrepreneurial Operation System), which is a leadership training program recommended by HTSA, and was the subject of its own session later in the conference. The vines represent your business — the one you are currently swinging on, and one in front of you that represents where you need to go to achieve your ideal business.

“At the end of every swing is uncertainty,” continued Esterly. “No single vine can take you all the way across the jungle. It takes a series of vines to carry you to your destiny. Decide — really soon — and not when you are at the limit of your current vine. Decide once and for all that you are always going to jump. The worst can happen whether you let go or not. Your perfect business three years from now is the best that could happen. If you don’t decide, the universe will decide for you.”

Key to EOS is developing a vision for your company three years out, and using its techniques to achieve that vision in 90-day increments. The ideal companies for EOS are privately held small- to medium-sized businesses with between 10 and 250 employees that are organized into departments and that embrace a strong leadership team.

The EOS vine analogy goes deeper with monkeys (which are your business’ people, processes, products, and plans), but ultimately Esterly brought it back to the group.

“HTSA here to help,” he concluded. “Our vine is to give you the tools to broaden your horizons and move you as far along as you want to go. To become the company you want to be tomorrow.”

Related: Selling Beyond the Sale by Keith Esterly

Current Focus

Beyond the keynotes, the three-day event was filled with sessions covering topics that are of-the-moment for dealers, including:

  • Hiring staff
  • Adding Health and wellness as a product category
  • Marketing tips
  • Project management advice
  • Lighting design

HTSA members will be able to access some of the Fall Conference’s content — including the two keynotes — on demand.

For information on joining the buying group, visit

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