Southern Aluminum's Joe Adcox on 2017's challenges and opportunities

(HOTEL MANAGEMENT tracked down Southern Aluminum's sales manager for insight on the FF&E and procurement landscape in 2017, and he was all smiles.)

The HOTEC Operations and Technology North America show is drawing closer to its Palm Beach, Fla., launch May 21-24, 2017. That’s why HOTEL MANAGEMENT tracked down sales manager at furniture supplier Southern Aluminum, for insight on the FF&E and procurement landscape in 2017. Adcox is amped up for the year to come, and is treating every challenge ahead as a mountain he’s ready to climb.

Joe Adcox

HOTEL MANAGEMENT: What are Southern Aluminum’s primary objectives for 2017? 

Joe Adcox: What we’re hearing from customers right now is they want unique personalization and authenticity from providers, and they want to create memorable experiences, a lot like events such as HOTEC. So our main objective is to listen, and create better customer service options and better experiences, helping them with ideas and concepts and bring out new and exciting products they want to put in their properties.

HM: What are some of the challenges you think the hospitality industry will have to overcome during 2017?
JA: Despite the political tension going on, terrorism and everything else, we remain pretty optimistic. We believe 2017 is going to be a huge growth year, and we are seeing a great start so far. All the new innovative products and technologies we are seeing are turning a lot of these challenges into opportunities for the industry. We understand there are ups and downs in hospitality, and we saw a little bit of that last year, but we are optimistic.

HM: How are changes in international trade expected to affect hotel purchasing throughout 2017?
JA: I don’t think it will affect us a whole lot. We are seeing a lot of consumer demand, which will create a lot of strategic partnerships for us and for many others throughout the industry. With international trade as it is, the businesses in the U.S. are used to ups and downs, the hotel industry especially, and I do believe we will see increases in job growth that will help sustain the economy and not affect international trade very much.

HM: What is the greatest innovation in hotel FF&E taking place this year? 
JA: I see the tech side of everything coming through strong this year. There have been leaps and strides in mobile applications in hospitality, and I think our customers are setting high expectations for accessibility wherever they are. Whether they are in a car, walking on the street, in their office or at home they want to be logged in at any given moment. We are seeing that built-in tech pop up more on the FF&E side as the largest component of 2017. As that continues to grow I think it will be more prominently asked for from our customers. “Can I plug into a table? What about LED lighting?” These are the questions we are getting, and we see the tech sector taking off and that’s one thing we are striding to be on top of throughout the year.

HM: What do you expect to get out of this year’s HOTEC North America event?
JA: Southern Aluminum has done a lot of different trade shows over the years, and we’ve been a part of the HOTEC events for some time, but they are probably the best conference and events relationship-building platform out there. Never have we had such substantial one-on-one opportunities than at HOTEC. Our customer’s time is valuable to us, and HOTEC puts engaged clients front and center. We are excited to be a part of that again and get in front of more and more new potential clients and existing customers, and listen to them and see what they are looking for. They know the business better than anyone, and that’s how we get new products, by listening.