By John W. Ford Sr., CEO
Dear AGTA members,
Please accept my sincere wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year to you and your family. While 2023 presented itself with challenges to our personal and business lives, we enter 2024 with a renewed sense of hope.
As your CEO, my purpose remains to provide members with opportunities to sell your goods, promote colored gemstones, maintain uniform ethical standards in the industry, and operate AGTA with sound corporate management, all within a framework designed for the AGTA membership. I hope to complete the restructuring of AGTA in 2024 by continuing proper corporate practices, reorganizing personnel, and planning sound budgets.
The Tucson show is undoubtedly now on everyone’s mind as we near a new year. As of my penning this statement, booth space in the 2024 AGTA GemFair Tucson is all but sold out, with one remaining spot on the GemHall floor and two in the Grand Ballroom. We have made some changes for 2024 to streamline the exhibitor registration process. There will be an expedited process for exhibitors whose accounts are current in the main registration area in the lobby of the Tucson Convention Center. Exhibitors who need to visit accounting will be directed to the member services desk by a representative at the beginning of the queue area. Hopefully, this will drastically improve efficiency and eliminate long lines. Other notable Tucson changes include a new Chick-fil-A kiosk on the GemHall floor and the Krainz Creations Porsche racecar complete with AGTA logo at the rear of the 1700 aisle. You can even enter a drawing to attend a Porsche Sprint Challenge race in 2024 courtesy of Krainz Creations.
Additionally, the safety of exhibitors and attendees is paramount to me, AGTA President Kimberly Collins, and the Board of Directors, which is why undercover FBI agents in coordination with the Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA) will return (last year was the first year to have those agents with us daily). Based on JSA and the FBI’s recommendations, AGTA will have buyer identification checks at show entrances combined with many other security enhancements to create the safest experience possible for buyers and exhibitors.
AGTA is financially solvent and is slowly rebuilding retained earnings. Solvency is a key indicator of an organization’s health but so is membership. To that end, I’m happy to report that the association is growing. AGTA started 2023 with 940 members—328 Firm, 550 Affiliate, and 62 students; as of December 2023, AGTA has increased membership by a little over 7% to 1,008 members, including 349 Firm, 588 Affiliate, and 71 students.
In 2024, AGTA will continue pursuing new strategic partnerships to promote the brand and to expand sales opportunities for you, our members. AGTA is continuing to cement partnerships to promote clarity and understanding in the colored gemstone industry. I look forward to seeing everyone in Tucson and catching up with you all.
John W. Ford, Sr.
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