NEWLY-ELECTED PRESIDENT’S REMARKS
Following is Joseph Napoli's remarks as SNA President at the SNA Annual Business Meeting on January 8, 2019.
Joseph Napoli (right) fulfilled his first duty as SNA President by presenting Norman Cole (left) with the SNA President's Plaque and thanked him for his service before making his President's remarks as newly-elected SNA President.
Newly-elected President Napoli said he wanted to tell three short stories about SNA:
My first story begins when I moved to Athens, GA in 1984 from Florida. The first year I had a booth at SNA was 1985. I was so happy to have a booth at the SNA show, but I ended up in the back corner near the Alabama state line and felt like no one would ever find me. I stood there the first day waiting, and it wasn’t until the second day a man stopped by looking for Hosta and asked if I could ship them to him. I said certainly I can ship them to you. I had made a $300 sale and I thought that was incredible. I thought I was a captain of industry. I had spent $700 or $800 on the booth, a couple of hundred on the room and meals, When the man left my booth my wife asked me how I was going to ship the Hosta. I said I have no idea. I didn’t know how to ship plants. But then I remembered next door to my business is Classic Groundcovers and they certainly know how to ship plants. So, I carried my plants over to Classic and they boxed them up, and I was in the shipping business.
My next story moves on to 1995 when one of the legends of our industry, Buck Jones, was the president of SNA that year. He came to my booth and talked to me and I was so overwhelmed that he was asking me questions. I realized then that one of the strengths of this industry is the free exchange of ideas from a person of more experience to a person less experienced (just like we had yesterday during the SNA Synergy Session). There are always ideas to share. Buck stood there and talked to me and never looked around to see anybody else. He made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. At that point I thought I would one day like to be in a position like. So the seed was planted and when we had shows in 2013 – 2015, even though I had just come on the board, I made a point to go to every booth at the show and talk to people and thank them for being there. I wanted each person to know that they were important and we valued them.
My third and final story is in 2013, when I got a call from Danny Summers who said, Joe I would like to talk to you about being on the SNA board and I said, “Yes. I would like to very much. Thank you” Danny asked me if I needed to take some time to think about it. I said no Danny, I have been thinking about it for 20 years.
So, I am so grateful to be elected to be SNA President. Thank you for confidence in me. This job is about hard work and service, and I know how to do both. If you have an event in your state and you think having the SNA President would be of benefit ask me to come, and I will come at my expense.
And now I want to give you some background… I have developed customers over the years at the SNA show, but there are four customers that I have done business with for 15 to 20 years with sales between $10,000 and $20,000. If you average $15,000 a year in sales with four customers and multiply that you’ve got $60,000 and multiply that by 20 years you’re looking at more than a million dollars. Considering I invested $800 to a $1,000 on a booth for a few years… if Warren Buffet got a return like that, he would say I’m genius.
There may be a cynic out there that may say we’re not having a show anymore so how is SNA helping me… I am so glad you asked! Last year I came to the SNA plant conference for the first time and I found four plants that I thought our customers would like and we could easily grow and we could do well with. Some of them started selling this fall and the rest are all booked for this spring. Those four plants will bring me about $10,000 in sales this spring. I bought my own ticket last year at $229 so I’ve done it again. I have a very minimal investment and a maximum profit. So, I have, like many of you, a big balance sheet with SNA. We have benefitted greatly. How do we give it back? One of the ways you can do it is when you renew your membership dues instead of just signing up as an active member at $125, consider being a silver member at $250. That’s like gaining a new member but with no additional costs. Or, consider being a gold member at $375. You can afford it. Everyone in this room can afford it. Or better yet, you can be like me and some others and be a platinum member at $500. When my membership is due for renewal and I write a check to SNA, I consider it an investment in the industry, the association and my business. I am happy to do it and I urge you all to do it.
Thank you all for being here at The SNA Conference and this meeting. I have learned so much from so many people. When I first started in this business in Tampa, FL, I’d ask someone a question and they’d tell me, and I’d ask someone else and they’d tell me – but often something different. As we know, somewhere in the middle lies the answer.Again, thank you for electing me and for your confidence, and I look forward to serving as SNA president this year. And at the end of next year, after I have served a year, I hope to be the best president SNA has ever had. And at the end of two years, I would like to say that Rickey Minton was the best president SNA has ever had. And the year after that, I would like to say that Todd Ellefson was the best president SNA has ever had. And I will be rooting for them and supporting them in their efforts.