Annual sales meetings provide outstanding opportunities for manufacturers, wholesalers, and reps to forge and nourish relationships, share information, and introduce new technologies.

Despite doing business in the U.S. for more than 20 years, Fujitsu General America held its first national distributor meeting in Arizona recently, and everyone embraced the event.

In the past 12 months, with the guidance of new president and COO, Matt Peterson, a new leadership team has taken the helm at Fujitsu. The team’s main focus has been to understand the needs of distributors and contractors at a higher level and execute business in a fashion that allows Fujitsu to continue improving its position in the market.

“Through the years, the company has held regional meetings and also big events at trade shows, such as the AHR Expo — all to improve relationships with reps and their customers and, of course, to introduce new technology,” said Peterson. “But this year, and in the years to come, we wanted to step out of the old pattern in a bold way.

“Spending time with our distributors and listening to them is critical, as is continually building relationships, added Peterson “Better relationships lead to better communication and a spirit of team. We’ve done that through field visits, by creating a new distributor advisory council, and, now, with our first national distributor meeting.

“We also emphasized the need, because there are so many ductless competitors, to be more flexible and easier to do business with,” he continued.

The 185-attendee meeting was held in late September at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain, just north of Tucson, Arizona. The goals for the three-day meeting were relatively simple: to share Fujitsu’s vision for 2018; listen carefully to customers in order to prioritize investments; build a stronger, more effective distributor network; and, finally, to have a great time with attendees.

According to Andy Armstrong, vice president of sales and marketing, a top priority was to improve distributors’ ability to drive product to market. 

“To make that happen in the best way possible, we made sure we allowed for meaningful feedback to help Fujitsu management better understand the needs of distributors,” Armstrong said. “Our president of Fujitsu General Limited from Japan was in attendance and spoke to the group, and we held a very informative town hall.”

General sessions and breakouts were punctuated by great food and a variety of activities. Many attendees enjoyed the property’s Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, and after dinner on the first night, glow golf gave attendees an opportunity to drive illuminated balls into a starry night.

Swimming, hiking, and stargazing through large telescopes also provided plenty of time for conversation. On the last night, during an outdoor party, Fujitsu had its logo emblazoned upon a nearby mountain for the whole resort to see.

“Fujitsu was a gracious host, and it was great to meet the company’s leadership from Japan,” said Scott Weaver, president and CEO of Lebanon, Pennsylvania-based APR Supply Co. The firm, which has been a Fujitsu distributor since 1999, has 38 locations, primarily in Pennsylvania.

“Until now, I’ve only been acquainted with the U.S.-based sales and leadership team,” continued Weaver. “It’s great to see the world picture of Fujitsu. The meeting helped me understand the whole company and its position moving forward. The long-term prospects are exciting.”

General sessions included information about new products coming in 2018 as well as new industry partnerships on the commercial side.

“We improved relationships at all levels while in Arizona to the point of developing a sense of community among management and our own peers,” said Weaver. “I found it particularly helpful to share best practices with other distributors. And with strengthened contacts at Fujitsu, I really feel as if the lanes of communication are wide open.”

According to Peterson, despite his many years of involvement with HVAC manufacturer meetings, he’s not been part of a meeting to this point that received more positive comments than the recent meeting in Arizona.

Customers seemed to truly appreciate the format, content, and destination. Attendees appreciated the new culture at Fujitsu and the benefit of working with a manufacturer that places a high value on distributor insights and input.

“Team Fujitsu and our marketing group were very pleased to host our distributors and reps at a fantastic location,” said Erin Mezle, director of marketing.