Summit aims to help businesses respond to change


Helping business help itself – that’s what really is at the heart of the Central Valley Leadership Summit, sponsored by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and a host of Central Valley organizations and businesses including the Central Valley Business Journal.

The day-long program – set for May 20 at the Stanislaus County Fairground in Turlock — is designed to provide business owners and operators with training, networking opportunities, ideas and practical information they can use – not only to help their businesses survive — but expand and thrive, even during these tough economic times.

This year’s summit has been re-tooled, according to Sharon Silva, president and CEO of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce. Last year’s inaugural event was held on the Turlock campus of California State University, Stanislaus.

“At the university,” said Silva, “things were really spread out between buildings. It took awhile to get around and that made for a very long day.”

This year’s summit will be held in a single building at the fairgrounds, Silva said, meaning exhibitors, programs and attendees all will be under one roof. The chamber anticipates about 50 exhibitors and 300 business owners and operators will attend this year’s summit.

Turlock’s location, along Highway 99 in the heart of the Central Valley, said Silva, makes it an ideal location for the summit. This year’s event features four expert panels dealing with topics ranging from human resources and marketing to customer service.

Jessica Yellin, author of the book, “Your Call Is (Not That) Important To Us: Customer Service And What It Reveals About Our Lives and Our World,” is the keynote speaker.

In researching her book, Yellin traveled around the country and the world, talking with customers, customer service workers, managers, consultants and corporate CEOs representing a wide array of businesses. Her effort has drawn praise from The Wall Street Journal, among others.

“I’m a baby-boomer,” Silva said, “and we were raised with customer service; smiling when you pick up the telephone or help a customer. The importance of this had gone away but seems to be making a comeback today.”

Experts also will discuss Human Resources issues ranging from “employees: past, present and future,” to “economics and finance” and innovative marketing ideas and strategies.

Panelists include:

  • Brett LaDove, an innovator at the forefront of the development of consumer centric business strategy and structures. He spent the early part of his career pioneering customer focused initiatives for Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Michael Levin, whose company, Custom Solutions Inc., offer sales and business development consulting.  His techniques have resulted in successful results for Fortune 500 companies and start-up entrepreneurial ventures alike.
  • Jason Gordo, a wealth adviser who will share his “T-A-L-K” customer service model that enables him to maintain quality relationships through the highs and lows of a customer’s portfolio. He is a co-founder of Valley Wealth Inc., which provides traditional and alternative approaches to asset management.
  • Michael J. Loschke, founder of IMC Consulting & Training, the Central Valley’s largest full-service management consulting firm. Loschke will moderate the customer service panel and run the summit’s exhibitor breakfast seminar, where he will share his strategy for closing the sale.
  • David Boring, owner of Never Boring design, a 26-year-old company offering marketing, advertising, graphic design, website design, and commercial signs.
  • Rodney Weckworth, the author of “Ponders, Proverbs and Principles,” and a former columnist for the now defunct Sacramento Union newspaper.
  • Michael Everett, co-owner of the Creation Lab and an award-winning video producer, who will discuss ways on generating business through innovated video production ideas using today’s technology.


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