ABMA Convention 2023 - Brush Expert Report

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, CA | 22 to 25 March 2023

The American Brush Manufacturers Association (ABMA) met last month in San Diego’s legendary beach resort, Hotel del Coronado, for its 106th Annual Convention. Opened in 1888, this historic landmark encompassed the most up-to-date technologies of the day and was declared an architectural masterpiece. Promoted as a health resort on account of its year-round sunshine and restorative ocean air, discerning clientele flocked to this new destination and luxuriated in its extravagant guestrooms and exquisitely landscaped grounds.

As one of the last surviving Victorian wooden beach resorts this hotel has seen its fair share of notable guests and has hosted presidents, royalty and celebrities, so the brush industry was in safe hands!

Wednesday 22nd March 2023

The opening Wednesday began with the meetings of the various Committees of the ABMA in which developments of the past 12 months were discussed and strategies for the coming year agreed.

This was followed by the All-Division Meeting; a joint meeting of the 4 specialty Divisions of the ABMA which represent the Broom & Mop, Industrial & Maintenance, Paint Applicator and Suppliers sectors. This meeting, hosted by Chris Monahan of Brush Fibers, covered a brief review of the Anti-Trust guidelines, discussed the activity concerning the different standards (ASTM F2367-04 Broom, ASTM F2368 Mop, ANSI B165.1 Power Brush & ASTM D01.61 Paint Applicator), approved the Suppliers Division Assessment for 2023 and conveyed information relating to forthcoming Convention events.

Last on the business agenda was a series of three short Educational Workshops which ran concurrently. Delegates were able to choose those topics that interested them and were free to attend any or all of the offered workshops. These included:

Demystifying the World of Carbon Accounting & Sustainability – Presented by Oren Jaffe, Senior Manager – Sustainability, Carbon Accounting and Environmental Certifications, SCS Global Services
SCS Global Services is an international leader in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, verification and standards development. Oren Jaffe was on hand to speak to company leaders about the need for, and advantages of, the measuring of their company’s Carbon Footprint. This is important not only for regulatory compliance going forward but also to enable companies to become more aware of their consumption, assess opportunities for decarbonisation, encourage stakeholder participation and to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Digital Workplace Solutions – Presented by Rick Rietz, Vice President of DMC
Rick Rietz of DMC, a Microsoft Gold Partner, taught delegates more about the use of Microsoft technology in the workplace. He demonstrated that in rolling out MS products such as Office 365, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Azure, PowerApps and Power BI across your company’s network, you will be able to quickly increase productivity, improve communication and collaboration, standardise processes, easily analyse data and reduce IT effort and costs.

Today’s Digital Marketing Environment – Presented by Justin Cramer, President, @jcramergraphics.com
Justin Cramer headed up this useful session which focused on the benefits of social media in driving conversations about your brand and how best to employ a digital marketing strategy.

Also discussed was the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and the topic of the rapidly developing field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its resulting potential usefulness to businesses was enthralling. AI has a place in many aspects of digital marketing from content creation to the analysis of data, trends and customer interactions, and Justin impressed upon the delegates the significance of incorporating AI into a company’s digital marketing plans.

The first evening’s activities began with a reception dedicated to New Attendees and members of the Emerging Leaders program, with mentors on-hand to provide guidance and support to those either new to the Association or rising industry talent.

This was followed by the all-member Paul M Miller Welcome Reception; the perfect opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces and to get to know new associates. Due to the weather not quite meeting the requirements for an outdoor event, the reception was moved indoors, but this did nothing to diminish its enjoyment. The food offered was a particular highlight, and a great evening was had by delegates and their partners.

Thursday 23rd March 2023

For those early risers who were in the mood, a Sunrise Stretching session took place on the mornings of both the Thursday and Friday which were hosted by the ABMA’s own Samantha Kennedy, were well-attended and appreciated.

Thursday’s itinerary commenced with the Open Business Session and President’s Welcome which marked the official start of the Convention. As the history-making 3rd member of the same family to have served at the helm of the ABMA, current ABMA President, Greg Miller of The Mill Rose Co, opened by thanking all attendees on behalf of himself and his company for their “friendship and deep commitment to the Association”.

Referring to the new brush industry event, World Brush Expo, that has been jointly organised by the ABMA and FEIBP (European Brushware Federation) with the input of a select group of machinery and supplier companies, Greg thanked those who have given their time to make it happen. These included Donna Frendt (ABMA Executive), David Parr (ABMA Executive), Bart Boucherie (Boucherie), Paolo Roversi (Borghi), Chris Monahan (Brush Fibers Inc), Andrew McIlroy (Perlon), Matthias Peveling (Wöhler Brush Tech), Alessandro Acquaderni (SIT) and Fons Ceelaert (FEIBP).

Following general housekeeping announcements in which the agenda for the Convention was clarified, Greg went on to give details of the latest recipients of the ABMA Foundation’s Kathy K Parr Scholarships. These are Jonathan Ciullo, son of Rachel Ciullo of Composite Cutter Technology, who is a Freshman at Illinois Wesleyan University studying Business Entrepreneurship & Kinesiology, as well as Connor Tiegs, son of an employee at Osborn International, currently studying Business-Finance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The ABMA Foundation is a catalyst for uniting people and organizations to make a difference through better education and opportunity. Contributions are secured and grants provided for sustainable programs in research, education, and assistance for industry associates and their families in need. Full details of the ABMA Foundation’s activities can be found here.

Next, Greg gave thanks to the sponsors of the “Hole in One” competition that is held at the annual Golf Scramble Tournament who, this year, include MGG North America, Keystone Plastics, Perlon, Stainless Steel Products, Brush Fibers, Monahan Filaments, PMM, Hamilton Brush Co and Zahoransky.

With close ties to its European association counterpart, the current President of the FEIBP, Andrew McIlroy of Perlon, was invited to share with delegates his thoughts on developments that have impacted the European brush industry since the last Convention.

He reported that, despite the heavy sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and EU, along with the unwavering financial and military support to Ukraine by western nations, the war shows no signs of ending. On top of raw materials and logistics costs which have skyrocketed since 2021, the war has resulted in sharp energy price increases, and electricity costs remain around 30% higher.

Andrew stated that “the worldwide economy remains volatile and is something that our FEIBP membership will have to deal with this year.” This is reflected in the FEIBP quarterly economic surveys which revealed a more pessimistic outlook than in 2022 with nearly 40% of responders surveyed classifying their domestic market situation as unsatisfactory.

As is customary, Andrew extended the invitation to all ABMA members to join their European friends for the 63rd FEIBP Congress that will be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland in September 2023. This is a fascinating city with an extremely interesting past, with great accessibility and an excellent programme. Click here for more details.

As previously mentioned, a brand-new brush industry exhibition has been jointly conceived by the ABMA, FEIBP and partners to replace of the discontinued Interbrush show: World Brush Expo will take place from 22nd to 24th May 2024 in the ideally located city of Bologna, Italy. This exhibition is, like Interbrush, open to all suppliers of components and machinery used in the industry.

The representative of Bologna Fiere (the organizing venue partner for World Brush Expo), Marco Momoli, was invited to share the latest details of the new exhibition and thanked the ABMA and FEIBP for trusting them to host this key event.

With an expected 200 exhibitors and anticipated 10,000 visitors, Marco said that Bologna Fiere is “ready for the challenge” and looked forward to welcoming everyone to one of Italy’s most important exhibition venues and to sharing the culture, food and history that the incredible city of Bologna has to offer. Details will be published and shared at www.brushexpert.com as and when they become available.

The introduction of new members was next on the agenda, with representatives from each company invited to share with delegates information about their companies’ activities. First time attendees were also introduced and welcomed and members of the Trade Press that support the industry were recognised.

The ABMA William A. Cordes Innovation Excellence Award is given “to recognize outstanding innovation in any manufactured product, component or service in the brush industry in any given year.” For 2023, there were 4 entries for consideration:

  • The Flex Scrub™ from The Malish Corporation – The ultimate bristled floor pad that couples with installation of a traditional flood pad with the robust cleaning power of a brush.
  • IVM/11SL+IVM10SP from MGG North America – A new and unique technology to manufacture in-line angular and flat paintbrushes.
  • GripTech from The Wooster Brush Company: Paintbrush featuring a rubberized grip built into each side of the handle for increased comfort and control.
  • Bender Roller Handle from Ergonline – A versatile roller handle that can be used for paints, resins and covering products for walls, floors and ceilings.

Representatives from each company gave a presentation to delegates in advance of voting with the winners to be announced on the Friday evening.

Subsequent to the meetings of the various committees within the ABMA, as well as the All- Division meeting that took place at the start of the Convention, accounts of their discussions and resolutions were given by committee members.

A revision in the By-Laws that related to the “right sizing” of the Board of Directors to reflect current membership trends was proposed and accepted.

Past Presidents in attendance were acknowledged which included Bruce Gale of Michigan Brush Mfg (2003 to 2005), Ken Rakusin of Gordon Brush Mfg (2005 to 2007), Ian Moss of Brush Fibers, Inc (2011 to 2013), Jeff Malish of The Malish Corp. (2013 to 2015) and Carlos Petzold of Borghi USA (2017 to 2019).

A motion for the election of officers for the 2023 to 2024 period was also passed with the following Directors and Officers selected:

  • President – Christ Monahan, Brush Fibers, Inc
  • Vice President – RJ Lindstom, Zephyr Manufacturing
  • Treasurer – Todd Leventhal, Nexstep Commerical Products
  • Past President – Greg Miller, The Mill-Rose Company
  • Active/Manufacturer Directors – Brian Keiser (Osborn International), Lance Cheney (Braun Brush), Connie McKinney (Sherwin Williams) and Ernest (Chip) Preston (Spiral Brushes)
  • Affiliate/Supplier Directors – Ed Lowder (Monterey Mills), Tim Hack (Epic Resins), Terry Hogan (Perlon/Hahl) and Rachel Ciullo (Composite Cutter Technology)
Recognition was given to the Directors retiring from service which included Charlie Coward of Hill Brush, Dustin Maninfior of AST Filaments/American Select Tubing and Scott Enchelmaier (Past President) of Industrial Brush Company.

The session concluded with loud applause for a special presentation to outgoing President Greg Miller of The Mill-Rose Company made by incoming President Chris Monahan who gave heartfelt thanks on behalf of the whole Association for steering the ABMA through exceptional events such as a change in Executive Director, the creation of a new international tradeshow and, not least, a global pandemic, all of which he “handled with humour and no complaints”.

The final business of the day was the last ABMA Educational Institute seminar led by Larry Broughton and entitled “Leadership Matters”. Larry is an award-winning entrepreneur and CEO, and keynote speaker whom CBS News called “the nation’s foremost expert on leadership and entrepreneurship.” He is the recipient of numerous business awards, author of best-selling books on leadership, team building and entrepreneurial significance and has “presented to, coached, and mentored thousands of current and aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs across the country”.  His interesting perspective on success in the face of chaos and change was well-received by delegates.

Thursday afternoon’s activity schedule was dominated by the traditional annual Golf Scramble Tournament with a shotgun start at the Coronado Golf Course. This highly contested event with randomly drawn teams is a highlight of the Convention for many and this year was no exception.

For those non-golfers among us, there was an optional Pickle Ball session; a sport that is growing in popularity and was certainly well-attended. Otherwise, the afternoon was free for delegates and partners to explore the local area or stay and enjoy the many amenities on offer at the hotel.

Following a short Mid-Convention Reception, Thursday evening was a free evening apart from those who had signed up for the Foundation Networking Dinner, a casual dinner event that took place at the hotel’s Sheerwater Restaurant with proceeds going to the ABMA Foundation.

Friday 24th March 2023

The final day of the Convention kicked off with the Suppliers Face 2 Face event consisting of pre-planned meetings in which delegates could book 15-minute scheduled conferences with their desired supplier members. This table-top event drew 28 supplier members, each with full schedules of meetings and was again widely regarded as a meeting highlight.

Companions and partners were treated to sandcastle building lessons on the main beach led by Bill Pavlacka, The Sandcastle Man – an award-winning artist who creates three-dimensional sculptures out of sand. Judging from the photographs and the reviews from his students of the day, this was an outstanding event with participation from the very youngest to the, well, older Convention attendees, and great fun was had by all!

After a buffet lunch, delegates had the option of attending a tour of the USS Midway at the USS Midway Museuem, which, with nearly 10 acres of exhibits and displays, brings the most complete cross-section of carrier aviation in the world and is a “symbol of American freedom”.

Alternatively, guests could take advantage of the good weather and opt for the pre-bookable beach loungers on the main beach area or simply take in the many delights of the Hotel Del Coronado’s campus.

Despite the uptick in weather during the day, the Suppliers’ Reception that was planned to take place on the main beach with a beach party theme was moved indoors. However, again, this did nothing to detract from the evening’s fun with many turning out in full beach attire/fancy dress and included more delicious food, fun sideshow beach-themed games and dancing to a live band.

Winners of the various in-tournament golf prizes were announced and called to the stage to receive their winnings, as was the winner of this year's ABMA Innovation Award, The Malish Corporation’s Flex Scrub. The coveted “Willie” trophy was received by Jeff Malish.

This was a yet another super-fun Suppliers’ Reception and was the perfect end to a memorable Convention.

The 2024 ABMA Convention will take place at the Omni Amelia Island Resort in Florida from 18 to 22 March 2024. More information will be shared via our dedicated ABMA webpage and news pages in due course.

Images from the 2023 Convention are now available in our online Image Gallery.
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