The Future Looks Bright
Sitting Down with Brian Morgan AIM/R President, 2023
It seemed the perfect time to talk with Brian Morgan (Principal, The Morgan Group, Toronto, ON) as he is coming to the end of his time as president of The Association of Independent Manufacturers’/Representatives, Inc. (AIM/R). Morgan will continue on the AIM/R Board of Directors as AIM/R Chair.
For those not familiar with AIM/R, Morgan took the reins as AIM/R president at the organization’s 50th annual conference, in October 2022 at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Colorado. It was a defining moment for AIM/R as well as Morgan.
Not only was AIM/R celebrating its 50th anniversary, a monumental accomplishment on its own, but it started a new year for Morgan as the 2022 – 2023 president. After a fast and furious pace in 2023, Morgan hosted his last conference as president in Miramar Beach, Florida. In the sunny section of the Florida called the Panhandle, AIM/R members and families gathered from September 12-15 to celebrate a year of growth and success, and to share best practices of the family-oriented industry.
How has the experience of working with manufacturers and forming relationships with them, contributed to your success?
AIM/R is first and foremost a relationship industry. During this conference we have heard many times about how important relationships are in this industry. People come from all over North America and it is a great opportunity to get together as an industry. I have learned so much from fellow reps.
Relationships are what keep people coming back, and like Janine Driver said in her opening remarks we are like the line in Hotel California where “you can check out but you can never leave.” People become friends and family over the years and it’s hard to leave. We have had people leave the industry and return due to the camaraderie we have at AIM/R and the trade industries.
Have you had any aha moments during your time as president?
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting involved on the AIM/R board. It is important to give back to the industry you serve. We have done a good job of elevating what we do as an industry. It has been very rewarding.
How did you get involved with AIM/R initially?
It is a funny story that involves my college roommate. After college I started a marketing position and my roommate did the same. After 3 years in our respective roles, we both decided to make a move into the family business and became manufacturers’ representatives in different industries, he in plastics, injection and molding, and myself in the plumbing and heating industry. He informed me about the opportunity to take the CPMR course. While I was taking the course and getting my CPMR, some of my classmates told me about AIM/R and suggested that I should become a member and attend a conference. I still remember my first conference in 2008. I did not know anyone and I was the only Canadian member there. I was welcomed with open arms.
How have you led AIM/R through the challenges of the industry that emerged since 2020? From supply chain woes to workforce shortages – what have you seen as the some of the biggest challenges?
I have led with fellow AIM/R staffers, the executive team and the membership who have all worked with me and together to make this organization a success. I have had great mentors – the past AIM/R presidents and Hall of Fame recipients are a wonderful resource.
Supply chain issues have eased but the problem of workplace shortages still exists and education is an area that we will continue to look at and focus on going forward for our membership.
We learned during 2020 and COVID how important our conferences were to the members so we did a virtual conference to try to keep everyone connected. We learned how to connect with our members remotely during this time. It was a huge success and attendance was higher than I anticipated. We did the AIM/R on Tap program virtually as well as the Advisory Councils for manufacturers and wholesalers.
Describe the value of AIM/R to members and why conference attendance is important.
It is difficult to describe the advantage members get from attending our annual conferences. From our advisory councils and other programs like AIM/R on Tap and the Rep & Manufacturer Roundtables (R.A.M.), we share best practices, tools and information to help our attendees whether the person is a rep or manufacturer just starting in business or a seasoned veteran. The networking here is invaluable and the value of a handshake and meeting face-to-face is not the same as over a virtual meeting. There is no comparison.
Can you talk about the importance of AIM/R training, education and other tools for helping members succeed? What feedback have you received from members that have been helpful and/or eye opening?
The LOT/T (Leaders of Today and Tomorrow) program has become a tremendous success for the upcoming leaders in our industry. It was formed in 2008 and started as a social event and gathering where like-minded individuals could exchange ideas for our businesses. I always left with ideas and strategies to implement when I got home.
We have quarterly newsletters, AIM/R on Tap (monthly e-Learnings), partnerships with industry associations, social media and more! We have a 5-year strategic plan for our future goals. Pillars include Outreach, Resources, Events, and Education, each with several initiatives to advance the association.
If you could give yourself a “high five” for any accomplishment/highlights during your tenure at AIM/R, what would it be?
I have been so fortunate to work with such talented group of people. If the association is happy and the board is happy, then I have done a great job.
What excites you the most about AIM/R in the future?
I am very excited to see what is next for AIM/R. I will stay involved as the next AIM/R Chair. I am not saying good-bye, just changing roles. I look forward to the bright future ahead for AIM/R.
What do you most look forward to doing in the next year after handing the gavel over to a new president?
Spending more time with my family – my wife, Lauren, and sons Alex and Sam. Hopefully I can get in some time for baseball and of course, hockey, eh?
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