Kevin Cushing: Hi, I’m Kevin Cushing, CEO of Alpha Graphics, Inc. And we’re here today basically because Cary Sherburne blew us off for an interview, so we’re going to interview each other.
Carl Gerhadt: And I’m Carl Gerhadt, CEO of Allegra Network, LLC. And as some of you may know, Cary did a CEO blog some time ago about the fact that our two companies were co-locating our conventions or conferences in the year 2011 and do a common tradeshow. There were some questions that came up about that so we’re going to ask each other those questions and try to fill in the blanks a little bit. So, the first question I’ll ask you Kevin, is what caused you and us to co-locate our conferences in 2011?
Kevin Cushing: First, can we get a little closer to each other?
Carl Gerhadt: I don’t think so.
Kevin Cushing: When Carl, you know, when I became CEO of Alpha Graphics in 2004, you reached out to me and welcomed me to the industry, Rich and Don Lowe did the same. And early on we had conversations about what were ways that we could use our collective bargaining power to put together events that were better for our franchisees still honor the fact that we’re fierce competitors with each other, but most importantly could create something that allowed everybody to have a better experience, a better economy associated with it. So, as we know, our conventions don’t run on the same cycle, so we had to pick the right year when we and Allegra were on the same cycle and 2011 was it in Las Vegas.
Carl Gerhadt: Right. Okay, so the second question is, what’s been the reaction from let’s say, suppliers, vendors, the industry in general?
Kevin Cushing: Well, I think the industry in general is happy to see such innovation. So many people have had to consolidate and looked for ways to get better economy and return on their investment from our network, and I think from yours, we were able to go into Las Vegas and negotiate with a lot more muscle. We got better room rates for our franchisees, and then most importantly from the vendor community, them being able to bring to Las Vegas an expanded offering for our tradeshows knowing that we have them on different days minimizes their costs and frankly allows us to get a better contribution from them to lower our costs to make it more affordable for our franchisees. So I think win-win.
Carl Gerhadt: Right. And we might say too, that we’ve been talking about this for about three years now trying to get our dates to coincide and we’ve talked to some of the suppliers and vendors about the idea and they were very much encouraging us to do it to help them save costs and also to help them put together a bigger and better expo for us combined than we could be if we were together. Of course, naturally, Kevin, particularly with you and I sitting this close together, we’ve had some questions and comments, are you… are your two companies going to merge? What’s the answer to that?
Kevin Cushing: No.
Carl Gerhadt: No.
Kevin Cushing: But we
Carl Gerhadt: Not only no, but…
Kevin Cushing: We really have enjoyed a good colleagueship and looking to say what other ways that we and other systems can come together to be a more proactive force in our industry to the benefit of the industry and most selfishly for the benefit of our franchisees, the work that you helped initiate, Carl, for example, when we had the issue with Adobe a few years ago. And all of the networks came together to take that on. We successfully did that. And there’s a number of other areas in the industry where that opportunity is out there for us and it’s more like coop-etion than competition.
Carl Gerhadt: Right. So even though we’re heavy-duty competitors, that we have some common enemies and common causes out there. So do you have any questions for me now?
Kevin Cushing: No. Are we going to expand this at some point to other systems or do you think that this is as cozy as we want to get?
Carl Gerhadt: Well, we’ve had some discussions with some of the other systems and some are certainly favorable to looking at this, but it’s a very difficult thing to combine the dates and all the things, the logistics to make this happen. So, we’re certainly open to that and we’re talking to some of our other franchise colleagues about that and if we can pull that off logistically, I’m sure the suppliers and vendors would appreciate it.
Kevin Cushing: Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this segment of the Carl and Kevin show and Cary, you owe us.