Fuse Alliance held its annual conference March 6-8, 2013 at the historic U.S. Grant Hotel in Downtown San Diego, California.  The group hosted 154 attendees including 86 member attendees and 21 supplier companies represented by 68 company representatives.

Executive director, Ron Lee kicked off the meeting stating “2012 was a year of negative news and positive results.”  He went on to discuss the issues facing small businesses today such as onerous regulations, cash flow, attracting and retaining employees, reinvesting for growth and planning for succession.  He discussed “solving these challenges requires knowledge.  Knowledge is core, but when partnered with collaboration, real answers and progress are possible.  Collaboration is high integrity energy that seeks clarity, teamwork and forward progress.”  He went on to say “by our cooperative platform we operate within, we have the structure and format to collaborate.”  He shared the importance of working together; members and suppliers, members with other members and Fuse Alliance with both members and suppliers and announced that the meeting agenda has been designed to give the attendees the opportunity to spend as much time together as possible.   He also laid out the organization's initiatives for the coming year. 

· Expanding FuseUSA, Fuse United Service Alliance, the organization’s program to support and service national accounts.  The group has tapped Geoff Gordon, President of SCS Systems and formerly of Designweave to lead this endeavor. Geoff will be joining the Fuse Alliance team as Senior Vice President Business Development.

· Fuse Alliance will add 50 new service associates to provide coverage to areas not currently serviced by the group. 

· Fuse Alliance has developed a selection of co-branded products with the organization's preferred suppliers.  Additionally, Fuse will provide knowledge and collateral to support healthy market segments offering members opportunities in new areas where they may not currently be focused.  During the presentation of these new initiatives, Kris Keller, vice president of marketing and member services communicated that these programs will be an extension of the existing marketing collateral and Fuse University offerings from Fuse Alliance.

· Expand and grow the ecommerce distribution offering currently available to Fuse Alliance members.

During Wednesday evening’s reception among the supplier tradeshow, Fuse members participated in a networking activity to see which team could build the tallest newspaper tower using only 20 sheets of newspaper and a roll of scotch tape.  The entrepreneurial and competitive spirit of the group was reflected in the resulting innovation and designs. 

Over the course of the two day meeting, additional sessions included an industry panel with representatives from Fuse Alliance Preferred Suppliers, technical/moisture update with industry experts, George Donnelly of George Donnelly Testing & Inspections and Sim Crisler of LGM and Associates.  The FuseUSA program where Geoff Gordon shared with members the future plans for this program and how his involvement will provide new business opportunities for member companies.

The leadership session with our resident leadership guru, Mike Moore continues to provide insightful ways to facilitate necessary change in our member’s businesses to strengthen their foundations and increase profits.