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Strategy

Associated Electric’s Tech Faire Opens to Springfield’s Business Community

The monthly in-house conference goes public, inviting others to listen in on big ideas from six local speakers.

By Jenna DeJong

Oct 27 2017 at 8:32 a.m.

Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.’s Tech Faire started in the company basement with about 20 people. Four years later, it has moved above ground and has become a monthly company-wide conference dedicated to developing employee communication skills and sharing innovative ideas. 

Now, AECI is taking its event one step further and opening the event to the rest of Springfield’s business community, allowing people from all career paths to join in on the brainstorming and creativity. The first public Tech Faire was on November 3. 

The idea for the event began with two goals: spreading ideas and developing public speaking and presentation skills. At the company events, five speakers, including AECI employees and external guests, each give a six-minute presentation about any idea relating to business. The company has gotten such a positive response that it decided to open its doors to a bigger audience. Chris Lazzaro, one of the event’s founders and manager of energy systems at AECI, said the point of broadening the event was to benefit not only AECI but also the Springfield business sector.  

“We decided to open the event up for three reasons,” Lazzaro says. “We wanted to create an event that would bring in top tier speakers for presentations, we wanted to give our employees who really excelled at communication a bigger platform for presenting, and we also wanted to give back to the community and share our event with them.” 

Like the private events, Lazzaro says presentations at the public event will stay within the six minute window and relate to a business topic. He says the point of every presentation is for someone to walk away with a new idea and better their own way of working. 

Speakers included:

Steve Baker, vice president of the Great Game of Business
David Taylor, corporate vice president of CoxHealth
Rachel Anderson, entrepreneurial specialist at The eFactory
Brett Baker, owner of TrustPoint
Buddy Hasten, AECI’s managing director of plant operations and reliability
Shaun Hall, AECI’s development team supervisor of engineering and operations technology

“When you’re in the daily grind of business, it’s important to stick your head up sometimes and be energized and encouraged and think of new ways to do your work,” Lazzaro says. “It’s about stopping the machine for a short period of time and learning from those around you so you can walk away empowered with new ideas to take back to your business.” 

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