From financial budgeting and planning to leadership and training, Nexstar Network’s Super Meetings focus on providing members with a well-rounded experience to implement ideas and plans across the different aspects of their businesses.

Since its foundation in 1992, Nexstar has held 35 successful Super Meetings, sometimes doubling up and holding two events per year. The business networking organization’s most recent meeting drew a record 467 plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical contractors to Phoenix in September.

This year’s Super Meeting centered on marketing, demonstrating how to use new marketing and customer engagement tools to build a residential service business. “This year’s Super Meeting was designed to help every company become a great marketing organization,” said Jack Tester, president and CEO of Nexstar, in a news release. “We focused on how to talk to customers in a meaningful way and how to reach prospects with both traditional and digital marketing. Our member contractors received great tools to help them.”

The meeting featured workshops focused on developing the service manager role, contractor call centers, and how to improve close rates on the phone.

One meeting, led by Gopi Kallayil, chief branding evangelist, Google, focused on finding new ways to reach customers using online media. Kallayil stressed understanding how to use Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube to create a more personal connection between companies and consumers.

Kallayil demonstrated how several Nexstar contractors are effectively using online media. Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling, Knoxville, Tennessee, was included, as Kallayil showcased how the company educates consumers on simple techniques to detect home plumbing leaks.

“The Nexstar Network includes some of the quintessential business owners of the U.S. There’s probably 500 members and these gentlemen and women are some of the most savvy business people I’ve ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. To stand up in front of 500 of the best players in the U.S. to be recognized, I’m not going to tell you it wasn’t nice,” said Tom Cambron, owner, Pipe Wrench Plumbing. “It was one of those moments in time that I don’t think I’ll ever forget because I truly felt like I was validated for my efforts and that felt good.”

Cambron has been a Nexstar member for about seven years and has attended every Super Meeting since joining. “The sessions where we had the Google evangelist talk to us about what their customers are looking for were fantastic. But to me, the very best thing I get from every Nexstar meeting is the ability to hang out with my colleagues. I learn something new every time,” he said. “The networking, alone, the value is so much greater than the monthly dues.”

Phil Smitherman, owner of Aux Mechanical in Hueytown, Alabama, and Banks Quarles in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has not missed a Nexstar Super Meeting since he joined the organization in 1996.

“I like the energy and the networking. Combined, they’re very powerful tools,” Smitherman said. “When you put 400-500 contractors in a room, the amount of energy and talent — I call it brainpower, for lack of a better word — is extraordinary. There’s just so much power in that room that just about any question you could possibly ask could be answered.”

Smitherman won Nexstar’s MVP Award for Employee Engagement during the event. The award is based upon a satisfaction survey distributed to all employees who then rank their employers.

“I have two shops that operate under two different names. Aux Mechanical is the primary shop and the other is Banks Quarles in the Tuscaloosa market. We bought that business in 2010 and we were honored as a Top 10 company in the employee survey. To win the employee engagement survey in two different locations with two different groups of people is a real honor. That just shows your people pay attention to the things you do. It was a really nice thing.”

At the event, Arnie Shaw, president, Centennial 360, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, was named chairman of Nexstar’s Board of Directors. “We are both a governance board and representatives of our membership, so, as chairman, it isn’t about what I want to accomplish, it’s about Nexstar’s mission, and vision, and the success of our members,” Shaw said. “As chairman of the board, I will be satisfied when our members’ businesses are successful, which we regularly measure with customer satisfaction surveys, employee satisfaction surveys, and financial surveys.”

Shaw said the most recent Super Meeting was extremely successful, citing increased attendance and the fact that members rated the event 4.7 out of 5. “All of our Super Meetings are fantastic yet they are somewhat different from one another,” he said. “The focus of this Super Meeting was very relevant to our members’ businesses as they need to spread the word to be successful.”

For more information about Nexstar Network, visit

Publication date: 12/8/2014

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