Spring is here, and I’m going to share my spring calendar with you. Not because it’s particularly interesting or that you should care what I’m up to, but because I hope it may serve as a template for you as you plan your team’s involvement in spring HARDI activities (and, if you’re like me, you like to book all your travel at once when sales are on to get the most bang for the buck).

First up is the trip to Tempe, Arizona, for HARDI’s new Supply Chain Focus Conference. March 26-28 is right around the corner, but it's not too late to register for if you’re interested in warm, sunny weather and engaging with 10 knowledgeable experts on the subject. For those curious, the Supply Chain Focus conference is a combination of the previous Operations & Logistics and Purchasing conferences. My VP who focuses on operational excellence will be there, too. This is probably the easiest conference to verify an ROI of over 100 percent as it only takes one or two ideas to recover the cost of the session and travel very quickly.

You’ll also want to make sure you’ve booked travel for any employees heading to the Branch Manager Certification workshop April 6-7 in Columbus, Ohio. This workshop being held is unique in that it’s the first time HARDI is actually hosting the workshop at its headquarters. We’ve now put several branch managers through the program and will continue to leverage this important talent development tool. The April workshop is full, but I’ll be booking travel for folks to attend the following workshop in October. You’ll want to give your team some time to get fully immersed in the program before the workshop, so enroll them now. Better yet, have your training and development coordinator enroll them -- that’s the best person to speak with about training, right? Don’t have one? Contact HARDI to find out how.

Just two weeks after the trip to Arizona is the Strategic Leadership & Finance Focus Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s April 9-11, and you probably should send a very different group of people. This is the event every top-level executive and executive-in-training should attend, and you’ve still got three weeks to plan for it, so if you can squeeze it in, I recommend it. Perhaps most exciting, Troy Meachum, HARDI president elect and president of ACR Supply, will be on site and at your disposal. Troy is perhaps the best source I know of for talent development ideas and organizational enrichment. And since he’s a fellow HARDI member, he’s happy to help you brainstorm your talent solutions. There’s also an added financial track to the program this year, so your financial folks will love it, too.

Then there’s Washington, D.C. 2017 could well be one of the most memorable years in your lifetime to be in the nation’s capital. The Congressional Fly- In will be held May 23-24. For anyone not familiar, this is your opportunity to meet with your representatives and personally share with them the issues that concern you and how they impact you, your business, your people, the industry, and, ultimately, the direction of our country. With a new sheriff in town, expect lots of policy changes. If you’ve ever complained about the decision-making in Washington, this is where complaining ends and action begins. Complete training for first-timers is included. Finally, I know I said this was a spring travel planner, but I can’t talk about HARDI without talking about my FAVORITE aspect. The Emerging Leaders event will be held July 23-25 in Louisville, Kentucky. For at least two years in a row, this event has filled to capacity, which is why it’s worth mentioning early and why I’m booking registration and travel right now. At cfm Distributors, we’ve already graduated one employee from the program and have another one still working through the program. Your up-and-comers should be there if possible. If you’re interested in participating, cut this article out right now and take your boss to lunch to discuss it. Call me if she says no.

And finally – another ping on “Organizational Engagement” – my way of saying that the old method of us executives attending and translating the excitement, content and reward of organizational improvement is past, and the new model is engaging your entire organization with the fabulous development opportunities of HARDI. Individual participation in HARDI programming provides them with their own networking, their own personal growth opportunities, and exposure to operational excellence that can only be embraced by being there. Invest in talent. It pays.