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Like 2020, 2021 has not been kind to any of us. This year has challenged our industry, its businesses, its practitioners and its end buyers in ways that we’ve never experienced before. The year has fueled political and philosophical divisions, which have played out uniquely in the business world. 

We’ve witnessed rebounds followed by chaos and stunning loss of life worldwide. And yet, this year we have witnessed immense bravery, compassion and resilience within ourselves and throughout our industry. This year, we continued to push for new ways not simply to recover, but also to reinvent. This year, we stretched and evolved the industry, businesses and people in myriad ways to help us all not only survive but thrive in the upcoming new year. 

No, 2022 won’t be a fresh start for the industry in the traditional sense; rather, it’s a continuation through strife. Yet, despite all the setbacks, we remain optimistic as we begin again by placing our faith in people, relationships and community to find a way forward together. After all, this is an industry built on community, and with this sense of community in mind, we lean on each other to find new pathways to be successful. Each of you is on your own journey, but we are also on a journey together. The industry will once again reunite at The PPAI Expo in January to carve a new pathway for the future, together, as community. Join us to celebrate our collective struggles and our triumphs. Join us to celebrate your industry colleagues who have endured with you. Join us in the next evolution of PPAI. 

With this final column, I bid you farewell as Board chair, but it’s important for you to know that I leave this office in better hands than my own. While this experience has been more than I expected, I will forever treasure it deeply. I wish to thank the PPAI staff for their resilience, professionalism and dedication to our Association’s vision and mission. They are unsung heroes who have endured so much over the past 21 months, especially EVP Bob McLean who filled a critical role for PPAI when we needed him most. I also wish to thank the board members whose intelligence, experience and character shined through reliably and aided our journey. Finally, we look to the future through our new president and CEO, Dale Denham, MAS+, and his leadership. Few board chairs anticipate leading an executive search process—I certainly didn’t—and yet it’s an incredible honor and responsibility to foster the leadership that will usher in a new era for PPAI. 

I look back with pride and look forward with optimism, knowing that overcoming what seems to be impossible is indeed possible. The coming year will bring familiar and new challenges, but thankfully our retooled understanding of normal has trained us to sustain continuous change and toughened us to emerge stronger and wiser. As my friend and PPAI’s general counsel, Cory Halliburton, often closes his emails—Onward. Upward. Together. 


Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, is chair of the PPAI Board of Directors and president of distributor Quality Resource Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota.