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What an event!!!
I just got back last night from spending a long week in the San Francisco Bay Area. I always like to recap these events when I get a chance. Here we go:
I started my trip to San Francisco on February 1, 2011 where I was fortunate to bypass the bad weather and flight cancellations in Philadelphia. It was unfortunate that I was unable to spend time in NAPA with Digital Marketing Strategies conferences as I was visiting my family. I heard a lot of great things and look forward to being a part of the next one. This week was special because I was able to accomplish a lot not only in my business life but also my personal life. I met my beautiful 18 month old niece and visited family that I have not seen in years. I was also able to spend time with very old friends that I have not seen in years.
Once Friday 2/4/11 came around, I was ready to get to business. It started with my checking in to the NADA convention and getting my pass. It was not easy getting to my hotel at first because the cab drivers in San Francisco are all mean and nasty. They stop to offer you a ride and reject you. It took five tries until someone actually helped me. After checking in to my room, I decided to go explore the area. I quickly met up with my very good friend, Matt Lamoureux from DealerRater and we started hanging out. We went to Yoshi’s for a planned meet up with a lot of our friends (Dan Moore, Dara Moore, Joe Webb, Eric Miltsch, Ralph Paglia, Larry Bruce, Michele David, Jim Ziegler, and so many more). We enjoyed a great dinner and social experience. A bunch of us went out and stayed out late to have a great evening.
Saturday started off with walking around the convention hall exploring different vendors and catching up with old friends. I enjoyed a few business meetings throughout the day where I met with some powerful minds in the industry including the very amazing, Paul Potratz. I am always enjoying his posts on different sites because they are informative and creative. The day brought a lot of meet ups including my friend Stan Thomas (eCarlist) who I get to see once in a while back home. I was impressed with the new platform of eCarlist and how well the system works. It was also amazing to see what my friends over at VinSolutions had come up with. When I saw the VinLense, I saw an absolute game changer. This team keeps coming up with out of this world invention. It was great to catch up with Sean Stapleton, Kendall Billman, Joe Little, and a bunch of other talented individuals from the VinSolutions team. As always, I hung out with my friends Joe Webb (DealerKnows) and Matt Lamoureux (Dealer Rater). I got to see Gary May (IM@CS) and catch up with him as well. It was also great to see my friends at Autobytel.
As the day concluded, I went to the eCarlist party and networked with some other bright minds in the industry before heading out to the eBay party. I hung out with good friends from IntelliPayment and got to discuss some great BDC strategies for their product. The party was a hit where I once again hung out with VinSolutions and Autobytel friends. As the night was coming to an end, I hung out with DealerOn friends (Ali Amirrezvani, Amir Rezvani, and Jeff Clark).
I continued a similar pattern on Sunday with more meetings and more exploration of different vendors. I was looking for products that I can work with in my line of work. I was able to meet some more interesting people that I can do work with. It was great to spend time with Steve Risso and Ted Bessen (Teddy Nissan). I used to work for them as their Internet Director and here we were at NADA walking around. I really respect them both and admire them for the work they have done with their store. I still think it was one of the best dealerships that I have ever worked for. It was Super Bowl Sunday so I ended up at the PCG Digital Marketing/Colorado Dealer Association/TK Carsites sponsored Super Bowl party. I got to connect with Ed Brooks from vAuto as well as Tom White Jr. (Suzuki of Wichita). I also hung out with many industry friends. It was great to catch up with Brian and Glenn Pasch (PCG Digital Marketing), Tim Martell (Wikimotive), Arnold Tijerina and Jared Hamilton (Driving Sales), Michele David (Esserman Nissan VW), Brent Wees (Dashboard), Matthew O’Such (PCG), JD Rucker (TK Carsites). I was happy to see many other friends. I want to thank the sponsors for a wonderful Super Bowl Event.
As soon as this party ended, a bunch of us went to AT&T Park the always amazing DealerTrack party. I got to hang out with my old friend, Adam Ross (Infinite Prospects) as well as Gene Kociuba (Classic Cars) and Dave Adams (also an ex Dealer Synergy employee). It was like a meeting of the NJ automotive internet sales gurus. We toured the stadium and mingled. The night ended with me catching up with the usual bunch from the dinner at Yoshi’s. I also saw my friend Rechelle Gryparis (IMN Loyalty Driver).
We concluded NADA with more meetings and walking around. This was my chance to see any vendors that I missed seeing before the show ended. I had lunch with my old friend Maurice Lawrence (Autotrader). Maurice was my Autotrader rep at a previous dealership that I worked with. I ended that day catching up with more family friends. I even got to catch up with the one and only, Chris Saraceno (Kelly Auto Group/DealerElite).
I have to say that this was one of the best conventions that I have been to in a long time. There were a lot of great products to explore. There was a great attendance which allowed for better interactions. San Francisco was a lot of fun and a great experience to not only get business accomplished but also visit my loved ones. I look forward to the upcoming Digital Dealer Conference and the future NADA conventions. It was great to see all of my friends once again.