The 32rd PAIMA conference took place in October at the Hyatt hotel in New Orleans, the city of Mardi Gras. As usual it was timed to immediately precede the IAM convention thereby helping members attend without incurring additional travelling costs.
The conference, the first organised and overseen by PAIMA’s new Executive Director, Antonio Tremols, was well attended and successful: then again they are a pretty happy bunch who are quick to make any gathering into a party. The 140 or so attendees included members, ‘member candidates’ i.e. companies who were considering joining PAIMA, and seven new member companies that had joined in the last 12 months. These new members all came from different countries: Nigeria, Latvia, Spain, USA, Portugal, Brazil and Venezuela, expanding the global coverage of the network and helping PAIMA to shake off its incorrect image of being purely a Latin American organisation. All these new members were given stage time to introduce themselves to the group.
The general assembly was fully attended, something of a rarity on the conference circuit and an indication of how committed the membership is to the organisation. There was plenty of business going on under the expert stewardship of PAIMA President Jose Marrero, including presentations on import regulations from four countries, a keynote speech by Walter Woolf of Air Animal Pet Movers, tonnage awards, and an environmental award won by Burke Brothers in the UK. There was also Board elections with all members standing for re-election except Laura May Carmack from AIReS who stepped down as immediate past president. Her position was taken by Aida Robles of Rodi Cargo in Puerto Rico.
But the PAIMA conference is noted for its social events. Golf has been introduced recently with the tournament held at the Lakewood course in New Orleans being only the third time it’s been included. Manuel Porras, from Mudanzas Internacionales & Mares, Costa Rica was the men’s winner with Alexandra Schmidt of Mexpack receiving the trophy for the ladies. The middle day lunch was held at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World with delegates having a conducted tour of the place where the fantastic Mardi Gras floats are made for the annual Shrove Tuesday celebrations (which lasts a lot longer than one day of course). After the tour everyone had a chance to make a Mardi Gras mask to sport at the closing party the following day.
The party itself started well with most of the delegates joining in the Mardi Gras spirit but, even with the efforts of the excellent band, the room emptied a little earlier than usual, despite the Latin influence that usually keeps them bopping until midnight, as the room was just too cold. Tony Tremols and his team asked the hotel to adjust the AC a number of times but, in New Orleans, it seems that having a ballroom at anything above 60°F is a step too far. People had to come out into the reception hall just to warm up. It wasn’t PAIMA’s fault, but the hotel didn’t do them any favours. Shame, because it was a good night otherwise.