Long-time Commercial Integrator Summit guest Tom Berry says the event effectively allows him to expand his network every year, including with a new peer group concept.
Having just completed its seventh year, the Commercial Integrator Summit has hosted hundreds of the country’s top integrators. The 2018 version included a record-high 144 guests. Among them was Verrex CEO Tom Berry.
Berry is no stranger to the CI Summit. He has been a fixture at the event since its launch in 2012, and he keeps coming back, in large part, due to the ability to connect and reconnect with the peers and vendors who also are in attendance.
“I’ve been to almost every single one and each one is better than the last,” Berry says. “For me, having the engagement is huge. You get out of it what you put into it, and I’m an engaging person. So, it’s a combination of reconnecting with the people I already know, as well as an opportunity to meet a lot of new people.”
Those traditionally have come through interactions during things like roundtable discussions, on-site networking opportunities like the Connections Reception and after-hour meetings. While that still was the case this year, there also was another initiative built in to the Summit program.
For the first time, the Summit included a Top Integrator Peer Program, designed to encourage mutually beneficial peer relationships among guests. All attendees were pre-arranged into groups of 12 and spent two days attending boardroom presentations together and were set up to share ideas, advice and assistance with each other at the event, and also continue to collaborate with quarterly calls through the following 12 months.
Berry was the leader for his peer group and he sees it as a great opportunity for learning from one another and continuing to grow his own company.
“To meet contractors like myself all around the country, that’s how I build my network. That’s probably the biggest development for me as CEO,” Berry explains. “To develop relationships all over the country, whether it’s vendors looking to understand what we can do together or, more importantly, the partners who are going to be an extension of us as our business grows.
“It’s good practice and, with social media, it really is quite easy to stay in touch and these people really are a lot of fun. So, getting to understand how their businesses are continuing to grow is really helpful and it will only be a matter of months before we see each other again.”
The vendor connections also are a consistent benefit for Berry. He says he gets good time with a couple dozen manufacturers through the structured one-on-one meetings and boardroom presentations which give him a handful of action items from the event.
“As CEO and owner of the organization, I have a responsibility to continue to grow relationships on a variety of fronts, and that includes our vendor partners,” he says. “So, for each of them, that means going back to meet with my new peer group, engineering, purchasing, accounting and sales and really review the line cards and see what we do and what we can do more of and if there’s anything new and exciting that maybe we missed. Because it’s just as much my responsibility to see if there’s anything new going on. This Summit provides that opportunity.”