Sunday, August 28, 2016

AREMA Conference

Honestly, I’m not sure why I was sent to this conference.  It was the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) yearly conference in Orlando and I had no idea how to market our aerial services to the rail industry but Layne and Jason had wanted me to go to meet a guy named Carlo who was a Cardno Manager in the region.  A woman named Sheri was also at the conference whom I hadn’t met before.

I had booked the Days Inn across from the conference hotel to save money for the company and keep travel costs down.  This turned out to be a great idea as the conference hotel was packed, had few.  I had a fridge, microwave, free wi-fi, etc while the conference hotel at over twice the price charged extra for these amenities.  I’ll never understand this.  In fact, on the 2nd morning of the conference the lines were so big that I got a call asking me to pick up food for everyone at McDonald’s before heading across the street to the conference. 

The conference was interesting as I got to walk around and see all the technology of the rail industry but I don’t think I made much headway promoting our drones except that everyone was interested in the videos we had and we had well over a hundred business card entries into our DJI drone raffle.  

I learned from Sherri that Cardno as a company wasn’t doing well in America anymore and while I was there the CEO in Australia resigned.  Not good signs and Sherri herself said that she was leaving.  She acted like she wanted Carlo to offer her more money or things like an iPhone to get her to stay but despite a lot of woo’ing of her I don’t think he was going to offer her anything to stay.  She was really nice but I could tell she didn’t want to be there which was a little upsetting for me as someone new to the company.  It was also upsetting to see that after multiple webinars, cut sheets and outreach from our group to the rest of the company, Carlo had no idea what we did and even was writing a contract using a different 3rd party for their aerial services collection… not a good sign.

The best part of the conference for me was when Sheri and I headed over to the Red Lobster for dinner one night and I was able to score a 2lb lobster for a 1lb price because it was the last one they had.  I didn’t feel bad as I was staying at a $60 hotel, not a $250 one and I had eaten McDonalds up to that point and only charged some of it to the company.  It was great to see the drone won by a woman who was planning to give it to her nephew who really wanted one but couldn’t afford it.  Far better than just handing it to someone whom we thought we could grab business from….  

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