I met an emerging leader today. His name is John Crognale, and he’s part of the APR Supply leadership team. I had dinner with John, his boss, Scott Weaver, president and CEO and Dick Foster of ZoneFirst.  It was a foursome for dinner after a reception that kicked off the HARDI’s Strategic Leadership Conference at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif. When I asked Scott what brought him to this focus forum, he pointed to John and said, “He’s an emerging leader” at APR.


John started with APR right after college, and after nine years, he now is in charge of five APR branches. Scott says it best about why he and a talented subordinate attend, giving up time and incurring expense.  (A secret about John: Don’t play hockey against him. He’s really good.)  “It’s an investment,” says Weaver. He’s right. The variety of subjects, the exposure to top-level presenters and the ability to mix with established industry leaders and the up-and-coming talent was a potent mix for attendees. It’s apparent that some of these savvy businesspeople, like Weaver, are investing time and money into executives that will pay big dividends in the future.


As part of HARDI’s Strategic Leadership Conference, HARDI President Bill Bergamini (accompanied by his lovely wife, Jen) uses the same word twice in a sentence to describe this Focus Forum: impressive. “It was an impressive turnout and an impressive setting,” Bergamini said. The resort’s “backyard” is the Pacific Ocean. The opening reception saw a full crowd of HARDI distributors and suppliers meeting for 6 p.m. cocktails on an upper level deck, lit by a fading sun. It was a perfect prelude to several days of intensive learning and great networking. As Bill Bergamini would say: “Impressive.”