The State of ConnexFM
What we accomplished in 2022 — and what we’re reaching for in the years to come.
By Kate Rockwood
Between grappling with an historic global health event that required creative facilities solutions and entirely new development of systems, and negotiating a period of significant economic downturn, the last few years have been an extraordinary time of professional growth for facilities managers. Facilities managers and their partners have been working overtime — both figuratively and literally — to adapt facilities to the rapidly changing needs of their clients and customers.
This challenging period is one that ConnexFM Board Chair and Director of Store Maintenance, Gap Inc., Pat Bacigalupo, called “tactical years” of lightning-quick pivots for ConnexFM. And as the association reclaims some of the normalcy of previous years, it’s seizing many new opportunities to grow and evolve. As Bacigalupo put it, “It’s not just jumping back to what we were doing pre-COVID. It’s about asking, ‘What are the new challenges that the industry is facing?’”
“You Belong Here”
ConnexFM members highly value the connections they make within the association — and those connections often lead to important solutions to industry-wide challenges. To empower those all-important connections, ConnexFM was able to offer its National Conference in person again this year. Knowing that members hadn’t connected in person for a long period of time, Bill Yanek, CEO of ConnexFM, hit the road leading up to the conference. This pre-conference ConnexFM Roadshow “stopped in regions across the U.S. to reconnect with members, listen to their emerging challenges, and provide resources and content to address those changing needs,” Bacigalupo said. And these “mini events were a chance to get people together again,” testing out whether members were ready to reconnect at the National Conference. The resounding conclusion was an enthusiastic yes.
In the spring, the National Conference was both a marketplace and a place to be seen and heard. The event provided an opportunity for members to reconnect with long-term national relationships and create new connections that will last for years to come — reminding members, “You Belong Here.” And the conference offered the important opportunity to share challenges and creative solutions to unprecedented and rapid facilities and industry changes, leading to more ideas on how to succeed in meeting client and customer expectations. With more than 300 exhibitors and over 30 education sessions, association leaders zeroed in on finding new ways to provide the support and guidance that members require right now.
And reconnecting the membership while providing support didn’t stop at the National Conference. ConnexFM embarked on another roadshow-inspired post-conference Summer of Connexion program that led up to Mid-Year. The Summer of Connexion ranged throughout the U.S. and Canada and focused on topics tailored to each city, ensuring a wide breadth of information covered and hyper-local connections to support members’ needs.
After all, the association best supports its members with real-time knowledge of the challenges they’re facing every day on the ground. ConnexFM can then best pinpoint uses of its time and resources, fine-tuning the vision for the association’s future. Or, as Yanek put it, “The ConnexFM competitive advantage is that we help multi-site FMs and suppliers do their jobs better. ConnexFM delivered that in 2022.”
You Grow Here
“At the National Conference in April, which was a huge success in its own right, I announced 3 new initiatives: an ESG task force; a Retail Council to work alongside our Healthcare, Food and Beverage, and Technology Councils; and lastly, a Connexion 100 Committee whose initial task is to provide input on the ConnexFM 2026 plan,” Bacigalupo said.
What do those exciting new opportunities entail? First, deepening the focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) concerns will keep ConnexFM both ethically driven and growth-oriented in the years ahead, helping to offer more value to the many loyal members and provide practical pointers for keeping responsible business practices top of mind as policies and demands change.
Next, the Retail Council will offer countless benefits to member multi-site FMs and their providers within that sector, helping them navigate the many coming changes to the shopping experience, from RFID to BOPIS and everything in between. The association has already found success with its sector-specific Councils, which have generated a great deal of member enthusiasm. “We asked members to get involved and re-engaged in ConnexFM through these newly formed and existing councils and committees, and I was pleased to see the overwhelming response, ” Bacigalupo said.
But it’s ConnexFM’s ambitious 2026 strategic plan that might be the most exciting. In fact, it’s on everyone’s minds as 2022 becomes 2023, the year the current strategic plan comes to a close. The strategic plan, reimagined every three years, serves as an overarching roadmap for the association’s future, ensuring ConnexFM rises to members’ needs even as they continuously change. Presently, the Connexion 100 Committee, made up of ConnexFM members, the board and ConnexFM staff, is working hard to refine and perfect the 2026 strategic plan — to be unveiled in the spring at the 2023 National Conference.
You Transform Here
And what will the future look like, exactly? As Yanek explained, it’s all about stronger outreach and smarter systems: “ConnexFM2026 will emphasize the digital transformation of ConnexFM internal operations, expand ConnexFM Council operations in driving membership and engagement and expand ConnexFM thought leadership efforts,” he said. That digital transformation, Bacigalupo said, is all about “making it that much easier and efficient for individuals to connect with ConnexFM and each other.”
That’s a major plus when member involvement is the lifeblood of your association. As Yanek aptly pointed out, “ConnexFM is member-led, and that leadership manifests itself through engagement at all levels of the association.”
How can members get more involved? “The most direct way to engage at ConnexFM is to attend one of our events, and ConnexFM councils and committees are engagement opportunities more tailored to individual FM needs,” Yanek said.
Bacigalupo expanded on this: “You can also attend webinars or submit articles or white papers. And we used to have communities where you could go online and ask questions. Bringing that back in a refreshed way will be a big piece of the future of the association, as well.”
Allowing for more industry-specific support is another major theme going into 2023 — which, not coincidentally, is the year the first Technology Connexion gathering will come to life. Yanek explained that this exciting event is also a sign of things to come: “Down the line, we expect each ConnexFM Council to host vertical market Connexions across North America.”
Yanek asserted that 2023 promises to build upon the huge gains of the last two years: “2022 was a very successful year of transition from 2020’s year of hibernation to 2021’s year of re-engagement.” As 2023 comes steadily into view, so too does our vision of a stronger future. And ConnexFM members are poised to achieve just that — together.