In early October 2022, the Office Friendly community met, collaborated and celebrated in what was a conference to remember. The weekend teed off at Branston Golf & Country Club in Burton Upon Trent, where our very own, purchasing manager, Simon Webb, lead 21 Office Friendly members and suppliers out onto the championship course on a fresh and bright Thursday morning.
Simon said: “It’s an Office Friendly conference tradition I always look forward to – there’s no better way to start the conference, settle in and have a few laughs than our yearly golf competition. It helps break the ice and start things on a high, with this year being no different!”
Following the golf competition, the players headed over to check in at the home of England’s football teams’ – St Georges Park. The picturesque venue boasts an exclusive Hilton hotel, many function rooms and 14 outdoor football pitches – providing world-class facilities for England’s football players, and now delegates of the Office Friendly conference 2022.
The board began the evening in the Executive Drum, hosting their Annual General Meeting (AGM). Shareholder business owners were in good spirits, discussing lessons from the past, where the organisation is and the outlook for the future. Our Managing Director, Jeanette Bresitz, said: “As an organisation, we’re passionate and committed to empowering our membership. With a delegation consistently of ambitious entrepreneurs, we’ve set this year’s conference up for everyone to discover something new, devise their own master plans and create a future where we thrive as a community”.
The morning after the AGM, our ‘Discover. Devise. Thrive. The Entrepreneurs Experience 2022’ conference got into full swing on a stunning Friday morning. Sixty of the industry’s most proactive suppliers arrived, assembling their stands in preparation for the afternoon’s exhibition. Following preparations, Jeanette welcomed delegates in the Bobby Robson Ballroom, where she spoke to the 100+ members of the Office Friendly community.
Everyone had a peek behind the curtain of Office Friendly’s new era, where she introduced new team members, and announced our brand refresh and explained the considerations behind our new logo and colour scheme. Additionally, she announced their latest annual incentive, Kit4Work, where members can win over £11,000 worth of investment for their business. Finally, Jeanette finished her opening speech by introducing guest speaker, Caspar Craven, the inspirational business co-owner who famously sailed around the world with his wife and three children.
Caspar’s ‘Big Bold Goals’ session covered how he utilised discipline to get to accomplish his goals, travelling the world, achieving the impossible. He explained to the captive audience how devising his own system to drown out negative habits and replacing them with positive ones helped him realise his potential. Caspar finished his talk by motivating the audience, stating: “If you dedicate time to positive habits that improve your skillset, just imagine what could achieve and ultimately if you unleash the power of your team”.
After a brilliant talk from Caspar, delegates split into two groups and wandered over to the next sessions with a fresh outlook and fire in their bellies. In the Howard Wilkinson Suite, they met Susan Armstrong – a leading authority in practical emotional intelligence, who regularly features in the media and famously transcended her own life of homelessness. Meanwhile, in the lecture theatre, a panel of industry experts answered entrepreneurs’ questions hosted by the CEO of BOSS, Amy Hutchinson.
Susan worked up close and personally with delegates to devise a plan and help them thrive, discussing feelings, key steps in leading productive change and they even made some origami together! With the expert panel session, they heard insights from the likes of Darren Oliver of Futurform, Ian Buckley of Prima and Adam Simpson from Silkstone Consultants.
Jeanette said: “Running these sessions side by side gave our delegates the opportunity to hear both emotional and practical perspectives when devising a plan. Most importantly, we want delegates to leave the session with something tangible and the confidence to do something different”.
At this point of the day, networking officially began with the exhibition. Members spent the afternoon visiting the sixty different stands, feasting their eyes on the plethora of new products and services available.
Amongst the lively atmosphere, community members spoke of their admiration of the event and Office Friendly. Commercial’s Sales Director Paul Nicholson said: “It’s been a fantastic day! It’s great to be back here on the circuit, meeting all the suppliers, seeing both familiar and new faces. I’ve already seen two new supply lines that I didn’t know were available!”. Paul also added: “Having been a member of Office Friendly for many years, we’re a big advocate for the organisation and we work very closely with them. Long may the hard work that they do continue for years to come!”
Amongst the lively exhibition crowd, there were some first-time attendees at the conference. Wendy Goodman from Beeswift said: “We’ve had some really good engagement regarding our product lines, and the conversations have been very productive as well!” She also talked about the value that the event brought to Beeswift, stating: “Today has proven to be the perfect opportunity to interact with dealers to download our catalogue and really make an impact in the market. As new members of the OF community, we’ve met most people here for the first time. It’s been a fantastic day and we’re really excited to be here!”
As the exhibition came to an end, CTS Toner Supplies sponsored a virtual pub quiz back in the Howard Wilkinson Suite -where six teams did intellectual warfare before the evening’s events.
What can only be described as a hybrid of a carnival and a night at the football, the Office Friendly Fanzone opened its doors for pre-drinks with a whiff of excitement and anticipation in the air for the evening’s awards and entertainment. Donning football shirts from teams throughout the UK, delegates filled the Bobby Robson Ballroom on tables stretching the length of the room, feasting on local street food and sharing a few laughs.
As the evening continued, accolades were handed out from our team and special guests to members and suppliers:
- Supplier of the Year Award (Sponsored by Office Friendly) – JGBM
- New Supplier of the Year Award (Sponsored by Office Friendly)– Pencarrie
- The Social Sustainability Award (Sponsored by Weaver) – Recorra (Formerly Paperound)
- The Mike Hindmarch Dealer of the Year Award (Sponsored by Fellowes) – Under £3m – Office Bridge Group
- The Mike Hindmarch Dealer of the Year Award (Sponsored by Fellowes) – Over £3m – Global Group
- The New Dealer of the Year Award (Sponsored by Antalis) – United UK
- The Q-Connect & Exclusive Brands Award (Sponsored by VOW) – Carlisle Business Supplies
Award winners spoke of their joy at the evening festivities, where United UK’s Graham Bourton said: “I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and this is probably one of the best ones I’ve ever been to”. Office Bridge Group’s Mike Astbury stated: “This is an award and day that I’m very proud of, but that doesn’t stop at our team. It goes out to our supply chain, our office provision and Office Friendly for all the support they give”.
The night continued with entertainment from the Provibers, where community members indulged in games and festivities to bring the curtain down on the Office Friendly 2022 conference.
Jeanette concluded the day’s events, stating: “We’re delighted to have given a platform for our community to discover new things, devise new projects to set themselves up to thrive!”
We’re delighted to report that our conference raised £1,300 for South Yorkshire Community Foundation. Money that’s invaluable in helping locals gain the support they need, whilst investing in a stronger South Yorkshire.