Last week at this time, we were just putting our feet up, calling the first Orchid Advisors compliance conference a wrap and a success. We heard 48-hours of speakers, spent breakfast, lunch, receptions, and dinners discussing what we’d just heard, and networked all over the resort at which the conference was held. Having expended so much energy and taken in so much information, at least one of us got to the beach the next morning and promptly fell asleep while contemplating serialization within expanding global operations.
What made this conference so memorable? The combination of speakers, attendees, and topics.
This conference had a sense of cohesion from the moment the pre-conference workshop started on Monday afternoon with about 40 members of the firearms industry coming together for a 4-hour training session with former ATF Field Operations Supervisor, Jillair Kubish. Jillair was hitting the points of compliance about which FFLs wanted to learn and find answers to questions. The room dynamic evolved into a conversation around hot questions, detailed regulations, and the ATF-FFL dynamic.
Expanding from that room into the two day full conference was the same atmosphere, only bigger. Speakers like Robb Cicero (Smith & Wesson) and Jeff Grody (Orchid Advisors) kicked it off with a talk on “Equipping Your Firearms Business to Capitalize on the Emerging International Boom.” They shared a top line of key points around ITAR, NRA firearms, military and law enforcement end users, distribution channels, and supplier agreements. The essential checklists were then paired with strategies on how to find the right partners in foreign countries, what to watch for in seemingly standard language from banks, and commercial bribery alerts.
A breakout session walked through “The Construct of Firearms” by Ryan Cleckner (Remington Outdoor Company), including firearm identification, marking requirements, frame and receiver determinations, and resources. With a basic decision-making tree pulled out of the regulations, Ryan then quizzed attendees with photographs of firearms that could easily have been misidentified, illustrating also the critical nature of proper identification to avoid unnecessary NFA classification.
All the hot topics were presented, including “Managing Compliance Through a Large Distribution and Retail Network,” “Modernizing Sales Through Online Distribution,” “Trends in Serialization and Scanning Technologies,” “Trends in Supply Chain Management,” and “Best Practices in Safety and Security.” Of course, there were several sessions focused on A&D Book topics like entries, corrections, automated technologies, and reporting lost/stolen firearms.
The speakers not only brought statutes, regulations, and rulings to life, they brought in their FFL experience. Is there any substitute for learning in a peer environment? International or storefront, all FFLs exist in a compliance rubric that requires attention to detail and an understanding of potential pitfalls.
Another dimension of the conference was the presentation by multiple ATF Executives. The presentations were the real time information you can’t get from the website because it reflected priorities under current leadership, concerns around problems the ATF has witnessed during compliance inspections, and challenges faced by the agency to meet its own responsiveness goals. These leaders within the ATF knew already leading questions around the future of cloud storage so that ATF Ruling 2013-5 can catch up with advances in technology, the number of variance requests this year on an average 30-day turnaround while 10 days is the future goal, along with what it may take to reduce the NFA processing backlog.
The long and short of the conference was that in 48-hours, an FFL could go through every aspect of compliance in the course of operations. What’s more, during all of the breaks, the networking opportunities fanned out across the CEOs, CCOs, COOs, CFOs, Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers, lawyers, analysts, and other leadership positions.
So really, the only question is why you haven’t already signed up for the next conference, being held May 12-14, 2015 in Orlando, FL? The portal is already open for your registration, and more than 40% of those attending last week’s conference have already signed up. And, the button is ready for you to click-on with your submission of a speaking proposal for this conference.
What concerns you about compliance? Who are you looking forward to hearing? How can your experience help your peers to survive and thrive in the compliance ecosystem?
Don’t forget the sunscreen, and we’ll see you in Orlando!