Chamber hosts networking summit

Wayne O'Hara, left, business development manager, and James Arden, general manager, staff the Northern Nevada Business Weekly's booth at the The Chamber's Northern Nevada Business Summit, on Nov. 5 at The Nugget in Sparks.

Wayne O'Hara, left, business development manager, and James Arden, general manager, staff the Northern Nevada Business Weekly's booth at the The Chamber's Northern Nevada Business Summit, on Nov. 5 at The Nugget in Sparks.

The Chamber hosted its first Northern Nevada Business Summit Nov. 5 featuring a business-to-business trade show, a Taste of Reno food samplings and breakout sessions at The Nugget in Sparks.

Chamber CEO Len Stevens said about 480 people attended with 82 vendors and 10 food vendors.

“It was a very successful first time event,” he said following the main events during the Alive After 5 reception.

After a few days to gather feedback on the Summit, Stevens said they’d had nothing but great responses. Those who attended appreciated the networking opportunities and that the topics were diverse and helpful, he said.

“Attendees liked that they could spend an hour just visiting with each other,” he said.

The Business Summit made networking a priority and featured a Networking Best Practices exercise led by Cheri Hill, owner of Sage International.

The event also presented six breakout sessions, including this sampling:

Rick Murdock, vice president of sales at Eldorado Resorts, profiled the history of the Eldorado Resort Casino to illustrate the progression of the company from a start up casino to a national corporation in “It All Adds Up.”

The Carano family opened the Eldorado in 1973 with 282 guest rooms, two restaurants, 200 slot machines and 12 table games.

“It was the first property across the (railroad) tracks and people said it couldn’t make it,” Murdock said.

Last year, Eldorado Resorts became a publicly traded company with six properties nationwide and currently is waiting for final gaming commission approval to acquire full ownership of Circus Circus and Silver Legacy. That would make the company the biggest player in northern Nevada in terms of total rooms and slots.

Murdock cited three key factors for the success of Eldorado Resorts: 1. Opportunity; 2. Strategic Planning; and 3. Focus on family.

Murdock, who serves on a number of community boards including the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority board of directors, talked about the cooperation seen in the community in terms of planning for the future and overcoming competition from Indian casinos.

It takes a community partnership to bring in the elements visitors want, he said. Those include special events like Hot August Nights; big name entertainers — Carrie Underwood will be at the Special Events Center in April; convenient flights at Reno-Tahoe International Airport; enough rooms and modern rooms.

“Gaming isn’t the only game in town,” he said.

Joe Dutra, CEO of Kimmie Candy, talked about “Stages of Business Development: A Candy-Maker’s Perspective.”

“I thought there was one stage — survival,” said the third-generation farmer turned plant scientist turned candy company founder and CEO.

Kimmie Candy began in 2000 after what was supposed to be a short-term investment in a shipment of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. When the candy did not sell as promised, he committed himself to turn the investment around.

“I studied the candy industry,” Dutra said. In just a few years by focusing and promoting his candy — an investment that many told him was a losing venture — Dutra turned Kimmie Candy into a profitable business that continued to grow even during the recession.

In 2008, he relocated its Korean manufacturing plant to Reno.

“We’ve been growing by double digits the last four years,” he said.

Kimmie Candy continues to expand and innovate.

Next year, the company will move its manufacturing from a 17,000-square-foot plant to a 46,000-square-foot facility.

“We’re making a calculated move to triple capacity and begin to distribute globally,” Dutra said.

Kimmie Candy continues to work on new-product development and expects to add a manufacturing plant in China for distribution in the Asian marketplace.

“In Innovation as a Mindset,” Noble Studios’ Chad Hallert, digital strategy director, and Sharon Sperry, talent and organization director, talked about keeping up with social changes that affect business by encouraging a culture of innovation.

“Innovation is the way you approach the world around you,” Sperry said and described the innovations that changed the world, from using fire — “man didn’t invent fire, he harnessed it”; to George Lucas, who changed the movie industry, to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos who changed shopping, to Steve Jobs’ influence on communications.

Hallert described how mobile technology has changed the world and needs to be harnessed in marketing plans.

“Four out of five people, the first thing they check when they wake up is their smartphone,” he said of a recent study. “Why? We’re dependent, addicted, to information feeds.”

He said that newspapers, radio, televisions and even personal computers augmented the way we receive information, but did not fundamentally change it.

“In 2015, the smartphone has changed consumer behavior,” he said. “We’ve been talking about the year of the mobile phone since 2010. It happened in 2014. More people accessed information on their phones than on computers.”

The average person checks his or her smartphone 150 times per day, but for only a total of 177 minutes. That’s barely one minute per time checked, Hallert said.

Google calls those “micro-moments.”

Businesses that pay attention to the smartphone trend are profiting.

Walmart saw a 2 percent spike in sales after it sped up the time it takes for its smartphone app to load.

Red Roof Inn coordinated paid ads with locations of high flight cancellations for people who queried, “I need a hotel.” Room bookings increased by 60 percent.

Hallert gave three keys to taking advantage of the smartphone trend:

Be There: Identify the moments that are important to your customers.

Be Useful: People are more likely to buy from companies they perceive as helpful and empathetic.

Be Quick: 40 percent of shoppers wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site that doesn’t provide the information sought.

“Mobile technology is changing the world and creating a greater need for innovation,” Hallert said.

Additional Business Summit sessions addressed “Growing Your People; Working with the Generations; Creating a Desirable Culture,” with Danny DeLaRosa, of United Federal Credit Union; “Rebranding & Repositioning: Tell Your Story on Social Media,” with Jennifer Baker, Performance and Engagement Consulting; and “Don’t Just Retain Your Employees … ENGAGE Them!” with Cam Sorenson, of Intuit.

The Northern Nevada Business Summit, which focused on networking and business trends, was a first-time event. However, The Chamber has sponsored a similar event early in the year for many years. Directions 2016 is scheduled for Jan. 28 with an emphasis on making the community a better place. It also has vendors and special speakers.

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