Finding Value in a $200 Pot of Coffee

As the calendar turns to the month of May, I’m reminded of an event that occurs each year this month. No, not May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, or even my son’s birthday… It’s the Electronics Distribution Show (EDS) in Las Vegas.

This annual electronics show has been an industry standard for more than 70 years — although not always in May or in Las Vegas. Over the years, the show has changed and evolved in attempts to stay relevant during a time when traditional tradeshows have seen better days.

I had the privilege of serving on the EDS board for several years and as president for the 2007 show (talk about evolving, a woman president of an electronics show!?). Being on the inside gave me insight into just how hard everyone tried to continue to produce a show that brought value to its constituents. I’m sure the current board and sponsoring associations are striving to bring value to the 2011 show. Now, if they can only show the value of that $200 pot of coffee and $30 sandwich up in the suites!

Not only has EDS evolved, so have the organizations that sponsor the event. This year will be the first show since the Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA) was formed. The National Electronic Distributors Association (NEDA) and the Electronic Components Association (ECA) have consolidated forces to form the ECIA, bringing together all of the elements of the electronic components supply chain. The Association connects all facets of the electronic components industry in a way no association has in the past: manufacturers, authorized distributors, and independent field sales representatives working together as a stronger voice for our entire industry. ECIA will continue to provide members the best elements of the former associations.

Networking is one such element and the one for which I personally find EDS to be incredibly effective. I can’t think of another US electronics event that brings together more people in the industry, in a shorter window of time, in sometimes very formal and sometimes very casual (think Vegas club!) environments. I am pleased to once again be attending EDS, albeit not as a manufacturer, as I have for the past several years, but as owner of JJM Search, my recently launched executive search business.

Once again, my days at EDS will be filled with meetings — but instead of meetings with reps/distributors touting the latest circuit protection or interconnect device, my meetings will be with candidates and clients. I'll be working to access human resource needs (clients), connecting them satisfactorily with specified talent (candidates).

EDS has been marketing the 2011 show as “getting back to the fundamental purpose of the event — bringing manufacturers, distributors and reps together to make strong connections.” Hopefully, those “strong connections” hold true for this recruiter as well.

20 comments on “Finding Value in a $200 Pot of Coffee

  1. SP
    May 6, 2011

    I am not sure if I understood the title of the story correctly. EDS in Las Vegas, good fun with learning, not sure how many people would go to attend EDS or to play in casinos of LasVegas 🙂

  2. eemom
    May 6, 2011

    I used to work for a company that attended EDS religiously.  We not only found value in bringing our marketing, sales and management teams together, the most value add was in the ability to schedule multi-level management meetings to pitch products, partnerships or just ideas.  The event is indeed excellent for networking and meeting people that you would otherwise only know by voice.

    Have fun at the event.

  3. Eldredge
    May 6, 2011

    And I thought Starbucks was expensive.

  4. Wale Bakare
    May 7, 2011

    This is nice event to attend anyway.  Converging some or all players in electronic components together – I think socialising in Las Vegas will bring more fun-filled to attendees, sponsors and organisers of EDS. An added spice to electronic components distribution channel.

  5. Nemos
    May 7, 2011

    If I understand well,   they serve coffee and toast   for 200 dollars and 30 dollars each !!!!!!! insane. I always have a positive opinion about exhibitions because they inform and give to the customers new ideas and products. However, it is not a proper marketing way to earn the exhibition costs giving a coffee 200$.

  6. itguyphil
    May 7, 2011

    Hey, if people are willing to pay that price, it is a wise move to sell it for that much…

  7. Ashu001
    May 8, 2011


    The $200 Coffee is served in Suites(my feeling is this is the High-End Suite suitable for mainly for High Level Execs).For them the Company pays the Tab for everything and anything they do at these Exhibitions…[Its quite normal don't worry about it].

    So obviously they really don't care about what the Coffee costs.

    Its a different matter for Company Shareholders who have to at the end of the day really foot the bill for these “expenses”.

    It would be really interesting to ask Carla if she cared about what the Coffee in her suite cost last year or before that when she was working (as A High Level Exec) for all those major Electronics manufacturers.

    My bet is she did'nt care.Now that shes an Entreprenuer she has to worry about overheads(including 200 Dollar Coffees…)



  8. Ashu001
    May 8, 2011


    You mention the real key behind Exhibitions here,

    Networking is one such element and the one for which I personally find EDS to be incredibly effective

    EDS has been marketing the 2011 show as “getting back to the fundamental purpose of the event — bringing manufacturers, distributors and reps together to make strong connections.

    Networking and Connections are absolutely essential and are the major quality that drives Exhibtions.The more time attendees spend doing this the more value they can generate from Exhibhitions including Overpriced Coffees!!!



  9. Jay_Bond
    May 9, 2011

    With many people out of work or looking for a long overdue change, finding the talent to fulfill your client’s needs shouldn't be too hard. Large conferences like EDS should give you access to not only potential clients looking for talent, but also talented people that are looking at joining some of your possible clients. Good luck with your venture.

  10. Carla Mahrt
    May 9, 2011

    Thanks for the comments everyone.  Ashish is correct on all 3 counts:  1) the coffee is provided by the Exhibitors (if they request it) in their suites or show floor, generally attendees enjoy it for free  2) the Networking is the key to the show, also the convenience of many people being in one location at once vs the cost to travel around the country/world and 3) although I did care what coffee cost in the suites last year, this year, as a new business owner/entreprenuer, it is certainly more painful!

  11. Ariella
    May 9, 2011

    On the cost of coffee: I've heard that Vegas operates on a system in which people are encouraged to come into where the gambling is and that the drinks are cheaper in there. They know if people stay in their rooms, they will not be enticed to play the games at which the house really makes its money, so they will try to make up their own losses in jacking up the price of room service. To really test the theory, though, someone would have to come up with comparable price list for the hotel.

  12. Taimoor Zubar
    May 9, 2011

    @Ariella, That's an interesting technique to raise revenue what they are doing in Vegas.

    As far as $200 coffee is concerned, I feel if the expenditure might be justified if the company is able to reap the benefits out of their participation by getting big potential clients or getting into contact with valuable human resources.

  13. Mydesign
    May 10, 2011

        Networkings at a conference uncover opportunities that are starting to bubble, but have yet to break the surface. One of my favorite places to do this is at industry conferences and large seminars. The benefits from networking in a conference environment are immense such as meeting new people who can give you new research, product, or information leads that will open up new possibilities for me, so it pays to keep my mind focused on these rather than worrying about putting a foot wrong.

        Not only getting a chance to hear about new trends and breakthrough ideas that can help in our business or career, but also get a chance to meet other folks who are highly interested in the same thing and willing to make the investment to attend.

  14. Ashu001
    May 10, 2011


    I am a big-big Fan of the Show-“Las Vegas” and not once have I heard about this price disparity on it….[That does'nt mean everything on the show is an accurate representation of life in Vegas!!!]

    But parts of what you say would'nt exactly surprise me.I mean is'nt it a known fact that Casinos make money only when People Gamble?

    I guess its time to put your theory to the test then???




  15. Ariella
    May 10, 2011

    Ashish, you can take a trip to Vegas in the name of research. Personally, though, I have no intention of visiting there.

  16. Tim Votapka
    May 10, 2011

    I used to cover EDS in Vegas. I can see your point about prices. This event was tradtionally a major networking event that was broken into two segments: the suite meetings and the show floor. All I know is the best place to see everyone was by pre-appointment or by being visible right in the lobby itself…not too far from the coffee shop behind the tables.

  17. Ms. Daisy
    May 10, 2011

    The pricy coffee is part of the Las Vegas attraction. The real purpose of the EDS Show was attained with all that is listed below . Yes, it will be painful for new business owners and talents seeking new shores, but what you can gain from networking may be a pain reliever or even a major breakthrough.

    Its all worth it!

  18. Barbara Jorgensen
    May 11, 2011

    I was smiling the whole time I read this post. For those of us who have attended EDS for so many years, it's great to see a perspective from the “other side of the badge.” There's a point at which a cup of coffee is priceless!

  19. Ariella
    May 11, 2011

    It seems to come pretty close to that Barbara, but we would have to know if the pot holds 8 cups or more. If it holds 8 cups, it would be $25 per cup.  Compared to that Starbucks is a real bargain!

  20. elctrnx_lyf
    May 20, 2011

    It is good to know that the show will be hosted by ECIA which is a consolidation od the two different organizations. Definitely this will keep things simple since only one sponser is doing this. I also wish you are able to find the right candidates for the clients at the show.

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