AIA Corporation (UPIC: advinadv) hosted its first GenNext Summit for distributor affiliates last week, providing the opportunity for them to become more familiar with AIA’s National Support Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, and for AIA to understand their needs and visions for the future.

Field Sales Director Greg Armstrong created the event to proactively engage the next generation of affiliates with the AIA community. He says, “We recognize that we have Gen X and Gen Y affiliates in our AIA community who represent our future. It is critical that we align our vision and strategies with their needs. This event intended to generate great synergy, help forge stronger bonds and begin developing collaborative growth plans.”

AIA brought in 11 members from its affiliate community—most were the children of long-time AIA distributors—along with three representatives from sponsoring supplier companies: Marc Held with Bodek and Rhodes, Aaron Gunderson of The Magnet Group and Brittany David with Snugz USA. All three had the opportunity to openly discuss the changing market and to share sales techniques designed to capture the interest of influential buyers.

“The GenNext meeting allowed for a great opportunity to connect with some of the younger— yet savvy—minds of AIA,” says David. “Hearing about their concerns and challenges, what is top of mind when they are doing business and how they foresee growth within their own businesses was definitely a voice of a different generation. They shed light on some of the issues they face and provided a different perspective that was beneficial to everyone who attended. It was nice to see AIA take the initiative to tap into a representative sampling of this millennial audience, to figure out how to best work on key issues together to ensure our efforts are in alignment with their needs.”

The open forum discussions also included many AIA employees and department leaders, where all had the opportunity to discuss future goals and to strategize improvements for growth. Seth Cysewski of Seattle-based Kreativo, one of the newest affiliates with AIA, says, “It’s wonderful coming here and piecing it all together … not just putting faces to the voices, but learning the inner workings of AIA and understanding how the moving parts come together to help my business thrive.”

AIA sandwiched the day of collaboration between networking events, starting with a competitive evening at a shooting range the night before and concluding with a dinner and a night on the town.