Once again, the Fall Fence Forum, held by Luke and Leslie Gibson and their family in Worthington, Indiana, was a remarkably successful education and networking event. The 2021 Forum expanded to five days this year, with AFA classes, Shoot out competitions, product testing, and demonstrations, and plenty of good banter and camaraderie. Two business owners and Stockade Ambassadors, Ryan Sloop from Sloop Fence, North Carolina, and Kyle Stender from J&K Agriculture Inc, Western New York, explain why they are regular attendees.
Ryan Sloop says the Forum is a place where everyone, whether new fencers or old timers, can get away from the everyday hubbub to work on their trade.
“If you are brand new to fence contracting, this would be the one-stop-shop as a way to learn. For those who have been fencing for years, there is plenty of opportunities to learn better ways of working, how to improve the way they work with staff or run their business operations.”
A standout for Ryan was the open atmosphere of the new question-and-answer Accounting Workshop, led by Luke Gibson’s personal accountant and community friend, which was well attended by forum participants. This provided a great way to discover useful information about taxes, payroll, immigration and to learn how to ask better questions.
Kyle Stender also attended the Accounting Workshop and the AFA Fence Contractor Business School.
He gained a refresher on insurance information, overhead costs, and basic accounting put in the context of running your own business. One main item he took away, was how important it is to have the right team members and that there is always room for improvement.
A staining demonstration by Wood Defender, a board fence demonstration by Stix Fence, the AFA Gate Automation Installation class, and a “pull test” with an engineered post and a round pipe to measure the flex and structural strength, were on Kyle’s long list of activities.
“Honestly, you can’t put a price on the knowledge learned and gained. Having the ability to take this information back and apply it to your business and potential customers is huge. You can’t create this type of experience in many other settings. It’s really hands-on, and the networking aspect is really one of the most important pieces you walk away with.”
Ryan knows that shutting a business down for a week is a big commitment but says the Forum ends up saving him time and money when he gets back to Sloop Fence.
“It is an important part of our continuing education and professional development, to keep moving forward. This year we took Sam, one of our crew along with us. We competed in the Shootout, placing second overall. It is hugely beneficial for our staff to see another side of our business and industry, and there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes with that.”
“We have also made a lot of new contacts, so we have a deeper toolbox; when we need to solve a problem, we have more people we can lean on.”
Luke says he feels fortunate to have stumbled upon this network of professionals. “Everyone should try to make this event at least once.”
Stockade has supported the Fall Fence Forum for three years. Erik Elliott, Territory Manager Northeast for Stockade, says over time they have seen the impact of bringing together a community of professional fencers with others from the fencing industry to build capability and to create more profitable and resilient businesses. “It is great to be part of this learning environment, to listen, learn and understand how our tools and service can add value.”