SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Association for Linen Management (ALM) boasted an increase of more than 40% in attendance at its IMPACT 2018 conference held here Monday through Wednesday, March 19-21, at The DeSoto Hotel compared to the event held in 2016 in Arizona.
“We had knock-out attendance,” says Linda Fairbanks, executive director of ALM. “We’ve passed our target goals. We’ve passed our stretch goals, and we had to stretch to get all of the people in. We’re closing in on the 200 mark. We’re excited about that.”
Location was part of the strong showing this year. Fairbanks says Savannah is near the center of where ALM’s membership is strongest.
“We try to alternate between the East Coast and the West Coast (for the conference),” she explains. “The South was the desirable location for this time of year. Plus, it’s a lovely city. It gives plenty of opportunities for entertainment and events in the evening, as well as a great meeting site at The DeSoto.”
Another reason for the increased turnout, according to Fairbanks, was the education opportunities available.
“What a lot of our education is about is how to create win-win opportunities,” she says. “I think we’ve got some great programs, and it’s showing by the attendance.”
“This is an interesting group of people here this year,” adds Cindy Molko, director for linen and central services for Mayo Clinic and current ALM president.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
Before the educational portion of the conference kicked off, ALM conducted its annual business meeting, holding elections for leadership roles.
For the first time in association history, the vote for president-elect ended in a tie between two candidates.
In the end, it was decided that Richard Bott from Intermountain Central Laundry in Salt Lake City will assume the role of president-elect at the end of June. Judy Reino, CEO of Reino Linen Service, headquartered in Gibsonburg, Ohio, and current ALM president-elect, will take the presidential reins from Molko at the end of June through 2020.
Re-elected to director slots were Nathan Rivers, sustainability officer for Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Bay Pines, Fla., and Kathy Harris, laundry manager for Sea Island Laundry in Sea Island, Ga.
ALL ABOUT THE EDUCATION
As Fairbanks noted, the educational programs attracted a lot of attention for IMPACT 2018. Each day of the conference was highlighted by general session keynote speakers.
“We had three great keynotes,” she points out. “A state of the industry and the changes that are happening in hospitality and healthcare. Looking at how to motivate employees, as well as we’re really delighted we’ve got a past president of Value Analysis Professionals, and we’ve been working with them a lot this year, trying to discover for our members what their customers are looking for from them, to bring about a win-win partnership.”
David Bernstein, president of Lapauw USA, kicked off the conference by talking about the future of healthcare and hospitality laundry/linen service markets, examining how people, processes and businesses are going to change.
“We had a great opening speaker in David Bernstein,” Bott says. “He got a lot of people excited about what was going to be covered and explored during the day, as well as the following days.”
Kris Boesch, founder and CEO of Choose People, delivered the keynote on day two. She shared her experience on making work “happy” and creating an “extraordinary workplace culture.”
The final general session keynote was delivered by Melanie Miller, president of Healthcare Value Analysis Management Experts, during which she talked textile purchasing decisions being a partnership between healthcare personnel and laundry services.
Beyond the keynote presentations, ALM provided more than 20 educational sessions throughout IMPACT, ranging in topics from equipment to chemistry, from continuous improvement to creating good departmental relationships. There was also a “Lunch & Learn” session, where attendees enjoyed a four-course meal and learned about new products and services from six sponsors.
At various times during each day, attendees took a break in “The Hub,” where they were able to visit sponsor tables and enjoy some refreshments.
ALM also offered something new this year: sessions for hospitality laundries. The opportunities included a hospitality roundtable and a discussion about wash formulas.
“I hope it continues,” says Phil Jones, from Vistana Signature Experiences in Orlando. “There are more and more hospitality organizations (at the conference), and it’s needed.”
The evening events Fairbanks mentioned featured plenty of Southern hospitality.
The first night, ALM participants enjoyed an evening at the historic Harper Fowlkes House. Outside, under a tent, food and music were offered. Inside, tours peered into the home, a Greek Revival mansion built in 1842.
On the second night, attendees took to the water, enjoying a cruise on the Savannah River aboard the riverboat Georgia Queen. The evening was filled with music, dancing, food and the sights and sounds of the river, including cannon fire from Fort Pulaski.
A big boom from the fort and for ALM.
“Everyone we’ve talked to enjoyed the conference,” Bott says. “We’re excited to see what’s coming next.”