Key Takeaways from ECA MarketPlace 2022
y all accounts, ECA MarketPlace, hosted this year by ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance in Tucson, Arizona was a tremendous success! More than 530 members engaged in over 5,000 carrier-shipper-vendor meetings over a two-day period. Cushioning the curated 1-1 meeting schedules were ample opportunities for networking with colleagues, eating delicious meals, enjoying the amenities at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa, and – to put it simply – having fun!
What makes the 2022 ECA MarketPlace feel particularly special is that this year’s event took place only seven months after the delayed 2021 ECA MarketPlace in Orlando (in September 2021), which came on the heels of the 2020 virtual event! Members committing the time and resources to come together for back-to-back ECA MarketPlace events only seven months apart speaks volumes about the value this annual relationship-building event brings to your business development.
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful desert scenery in Tucson, Arizona amidst a national news cycle focused on supply chain distress, the 2022 ECA MarketPlace arguably demonstrated the rising need for shippers to develop and maintain strong relationships with local and regional carriers.
ECA Women’s Group
The Women’s Power Hour Networking Event was another inspiring way to kick off MarketPlace where we celebrated the leadership and expertise of ECA’s female leaders in logistics. This year’s Women’s Networking Event had over 100 attendees and for the first time was inclusive to both women and men – a decision made to help reinforce appreciation and support across genders in the organization. Education chair Samantha says, “When men support the Women’s Group on behalf of women, those women are more likely to be taken seriously and looked at as allies. The Women’s Group is essential to providing the tools and mentors for the younger women looking to grow within this industry and having a female mentor by their side who faced the same struggles while growing in their own careers”. The Women’s Networking Event at ECA MarketPlace created new business opportunities and countless new friendships among women and men in the delivery industry.
Founded in 2021 by ECA Shipper Committee Chair and President of Crossroads Courier, Liz Klein, the ECA Women’s Group is now under the direction of Education Chair Samantha Voorhees, Vice President of Business Development at Everready Express, who is passionate about creating fun and educational networking events that are inclusive to all attendees throughout the ECA. The mission of the ECA Women’s Group is to provide women a productive space to come together in a traditionally male-dominated industry. To get involved, please contact Madison Luciani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also leveraging the expertise of women in the delivery industry, the Women in Transportation themed Lunch and Learn Town Hall Series sponsored and hosted by ClearConnect Solutions was both informative and insightful. The event featured:
- Host – Scott Grandys, President, ClearConnect Solutions
- Zoey Madrano, Operations Manager, ClearConnect Solutions
- Karen Rasmussen, Executive Director, Independent Carrier Safety Association
- Michelle Cully, President, Xpressman Trucking and Courier
- Elizabeth Klein, President, Crossroads Courier
- Katie Feary, Partner at Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary
- Ina Daly, Truck Driver, XPO Logistics
Honoring an ECA Legend
Craig Heurung, recently retired from Spee Dee Delivery Service, believes the opportunity for regional carriers is stronger than ever. Craig was honored at MarketPlace 2022 as an ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance Legend. Throughout his career with Spee Dee Delivery, and his long-term involvement with the ECA, Craig was always there to help people in our industry. Craig served our membership through his twenty years on and off the Board of Directors. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and knowing so many really good people with it,” said Craig. A particular emphasis for Craig was the consistent quest for new shippers to come to MarketPlace. “My main goal as an ECA Board Member over the years was to use my vast number of connections and attract as many shipper attendees as possible,” he said. “The more shippers we could get, the better potential there was for the carriers.”
Craig was Spee Dee’s second employee in 1978 when the company was operating out of a two-car garage. Working initially with Don Weirs and Tim Papesh, Craig was instrumental during his forty-one years at Spee Dee Delivery in building the company into the extraordinary multi-state package delivery service it is today. Throughout the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, Spee Dee customers today benefit from four decades of Craig’s spirit of helpfulness, interest in people, and getting things done.
The ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance was just as much a recipient of Craig’s infectious enthusiasm for service as Spee Dee. “I saw the MarketPlace as a unique way to bring people together,” said Craig. He sees the current shipping environment as a great opportunity for ECA members. “Early on,” he stated, “it was hard just to get people to attend the MarketPlace. Every shipper just said they could use the big guys – UPS, FedEx, the big LTL carriers – so why did they need a smaller regional carrier? The table has changed now. Local and regional carriers are in huge demand, because, today, shippers diversifying their portfolio of carriers is extremely important. That’s why the MarketPlace is such a great event.”
Craig says that he “misses the hunt,” since his retirement, but doesn’t regret it. “I wanted to spend more time with my wife Nancy, do some things for our church, and concentrate on my gardening.” Indeed, Craig’s green thumb in the garden is just as green as his Spee Dee Delivery and ECA career. He shows off his garden to visitors from far and wide, and if you’re ever in his area, Craig would be proud to showcase his gardening skills, obviously on a par with the servant spirit exhibited throughout his career with Spee Dee Delivery and the ECA.
Raising Funds for the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship
At this year’s event, ECA members raised a record-breaking $20,000 for the Carrier Ehlers Memorial Scholarship Fund! This scholarship was established in honor of ECA President Carrie Ehlers and provides scholarship money to young women pursuing business degrees. The ECA Golf Tournament, which takes place the day before the MarketPlace meetings officially kick off, is not only a networking opportunity, but also a primary fundraising event for this fund. Played out this year on the beautiful and challenging Starr Pass course, we had a fantastic time with a great deal of member participation. The additional financial contributions during at-hole games and the 50/50 Raffle added to this year’s record scholarship fundraising! Later, the annual Carrie-Oke evening event continued to raise money and offered an opportunity for members to break the ice, reconnect, and sing their hearts out. As is tradition and in good fun, members can pay to vote singers ONTO the stage AND OFF the stage!
Fusion Logistics’ Stuart Hyden, chair of the scholarship committee, attended MarketPlace 2022 and was excited to report that “through the overwhelming generosity of the ECA Membership at the 2022 Marketplace, the Carrie Ehlers Scholarship experienced our biggest fundraising total ever! This year, through the kind donations of our golf participants, the golf 50/50, Social Events 50/50, and of course Carrie-Oke night, association members raised $20,000 for the scholarship fund. When we launched the scholarship fund in 2008, our objective was to raise $25,000 and provide a $1,000 scholarship. Since then, the fund’s growth has exceeded all our expectations. As of 2022, the fund has granted over $21,000 dollars in scholarships to seventeen very deserving young women. With the support of our membership, we have increased our scholarships awards from one award to two, and the amount of each scholarship has grown from $1,000 to $1,500. Our goal is to increase the scholarship awards from $1,500 to $2,000 in 2022-2023!”
By emphasizing the “fun” in fundraising, the events at MarketPlace are the perfect time to build our funds for the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship Fund and enjoy the laughter and playfulness along the way. “While we are very appreciative of the work that has been done, we still have more to do,” remarked Stuart. The scholarship effort is year-round. To donate online and to learn more about Carrie and the scholarship we’re so dedicated to funding, please visit the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship Fund page on the ECA website.
“On behalf of myself, Co-Chairs Pam Witt and Brad Westrom of the Scholarship Committee, and the entire ECA Board of Directors, a big THANK YOU for all your support in making this a record-breaking year. Now, on to next year!”said Stuart.
The ECA Golf Tournament
Amstan Logistics’ Doug Vetter, who serves the shipper as Leader, Business Development and Marketing, said he and his team thoroughly enjoyed the Monday morning golf event. “There is something unique about networking on the golf course with like-minded people,” said Doug. “The ECA does a great job with the golf outing each year! Being a shipper, the carriers that the ECA teams us up with have been great. We often connect with them on a business level, while also establishing long lasting friendships as well. It’s amazing what you can learn about each other during one round of golf.”
“The 2022 ECA golf outing was a blast,” said Ryan Gumro, Vice President of Retail Business Development at Gumro and Associates. “A great course at an amazing hotel for an even better cause, the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship fund! The Gumro team went low and won the tournament! Aside from the boys posting a W on the board, it’s about raising scholarship funds while having a good time. Every golfer who plays the outing is contributing to the fund. Take it one step further and roll the dice on some 50/50, networking and cashing in those drink tickets while making birdies and eagles doesn’t get any better! Looking forward to defending our title next year !”
Experiencing a Supportive Professional Network at ECA MarketPlace
Quincy Jackson, President of Jackson Carrier Services in Louisiana, said this year’s MarketPlace was her second. What made her decide to come to the 2022 MarketPlace? “I had developed a good working relationship with Steve Seager of Crosstown Courier up in Nashville, Tennessee,” said Quincy. “Steve and I hit it off really well, the way he related to me. So last fall, I decided to take his advice and start coming to MarketPlace.”
When asked what encouraged her to make that second trip to MarketPlace in Arizona after the September 2021 Orlando event, Quincy reported, “I felt very welcomed, had developed some warm relationships, and everybody I met invited me in. My husband Shawne and I had a great experience. It was like even though many of us were competing, it was not like we were competitors. People were very supportive of me even though I was new, asking me if I knew this shipper or that one. It was all helpfulness and cooperation,” she added.
Quincy especially enjoyed and benefited from the Women’s Networking Event, saying that the support she felt from other women in our industry was encouraging. Being able to spend time with her good friend Jason Burns (President of the CLDA and Director Corporate Development at Dropoff) was a bonus, and seeing Jason and ECA President Jim Bernecker (President at Relay Express) singing together at the Carrie-Oke evening was fun and encouraging. “It’s a sisterhood and brotherhood kind of thing,” said Quincy.
Quincy added she’s already looking for a new, larger warehouse based on her follow up meetings from the MarketPlace. “It’s a great event, and I’m definitely planning to be in San Antonio next year.”
Building Shipper-Carrier Relationships
Rebel Logistics attended the MarketPlace on the shipper side for the third time this year. “We came to the ECA MarketPlace because the event has enabled us to expand our service markets. This boosts our confidence in being able to support our customers in unique ways,” said Rebel Logistics’ President Sarah Olmstead.
“The benefits of being involved in this event are countless for a company like ours,” Sarah continued. “The carrier meetings provide us access to companies we may not have had the opportunity to meet, otherwise. We have built strong partnerships over the last three years, which assists us in providing services to customers that we would have normally passed on.” She said that Rebel will be “absolutely going to the San Antonio event” next year.
Key Software was the MarketPlace 2022’s Host Sponsor. The ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance is grateful for Key Software’s sponsorship lead, along with all of the amazing companies that contributed as sponsors to the success of this year’s event. Key Software’s VP of Sales & Marketing Patrick Scardilli said, “This MarketPlace was one of the best we’ve been to.” Patrick joked that “I wish I hadn’t botched the promotional video we did, but we were all very happy with being the host sponsor and how the ECA represented us at the MarketPlace.”
With the allure of the picturesque Texas Hill Country at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, we hope that ECA MarketPlace 2023 is marked on every ECA members’ calendar for April 24-26, 2023. Opportunities await to build even stronger professional network bonds at next year’s event. Whether you have forty-one years in the delivery business or are just getting started, ECA MarketPlace is the premier delivery industry event for forging shipper-carrier-vendor relationships. As our friends at On Time Logistics proclaimed, “It keeps getting better and better!” It’s good to know that speed-dating for shippers, carriers, and vendors in the delivery industry at the annual ECA MarketPlace is alive and well!