Sometimes good things happen by chance.

In 2012, Energy Marketing Conferences (EMC) Co-founder Larry Leikin was attending the National Energy Marketers (NEM) conference. While the conference was excellent for regulatory affairs and related topics, Leikin said, he found himself wanting more material focused on sales, marketing and business development.

So, he turned to the person next to him, who happened to be future EMC Co-founder Jack Doueck.

“I turned to the guy next to me at one point and said, hey, we should do our own conference.  And to my surprise, he [Jack Doueck] turned back and said okay. We met right after that and decided that this was something that we could do for the industry. ” Leikin told Energy Pages in an interview.

EMC Founders Jack Doueck and Larry Leikin
EMC Founders Jack Doueck (left) and Larry Leikin.

Eight months later the conference launched in New York with 200 attendees and continues on today as one of the main events of the retail energy industry, with over 600 energy professionals, 50 exhibitors and over 40 major industry sponsors at every show. It is the place buyers, sellers, researchers, academics, consultants and others gather to see new products and hear about new deployments.

This year’s spring EMC will take place April 2 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. The conference’s keynote speaker will be Jim Steffes, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Direct Energy.

EMC’s One-day Format is a Favorite

Rather than putting on a conference that spans multiple days, Leikin and Doueck felt it was important to offer professionals a quick conference that condenses the most important information into a one-day schedule.

So, while EMC technically starts on April 1, the only event that day is a meet-and-greet reception. The following day features a robust schedule of panels and speeches, maximizing attendees’ time while offering opportunities for networking after the day’s events conclude.

“When you really get down to it, most people can accomplish most of what they want to accomplish in one day. And of course we all have busy lives and other things going on and people really find that to be one of the biggest benefits of the EMC.”Leikin said.

A Behind-the-scenes Look at EMC

Part of what makes the conference so popular is that Leikin and Doueck are energy professionals themselves. They understand what it’s like to balance leading a company while at the same time seeking out beneficial development opportunities.

Leikin runs third-party verification company Trusted TPV,  while Doueck is the principal and founder of Advanced Energy Capital and LED PLUS.

While Leikin admits that it can be tough for him and Doueck to juggle their companies with the conference, he said they love the nuances.

“I will say that one thing that makes it a little bit easier as well is that both of my primary companies are in the same industry. And so, there’s a lot of crossover in what I’m talking to people about, what my messaging is. But it is a time challenge like anything is,” he said. “I always tell people that I have two companies. One of them is work and one of them is fun. The conference business is fun.”

Growing EMC: From New York to Houston

Over the years, Leikin and Doueck have fallen into a rhythm in which they do two conferences a year: one in Houston and one in New York. Both conferences are located in storied energy regions in New England and the Gulf Coast.

“We started in New York because that is where, at least on the East Coast, the majority of energy companies are sort of centrally located in that tri-state area. And when we looked for a second location, Houston was almost too easy,” he said. “If you look at the number of energy companies that are based in Houston it’s probably about equal to the number that are based in New York.”

Managing the growth and making sure they put out a good product every six months is something that Leikin says is a team effort. His wife, Sherry, organizes hotels, and the food and beverage services.

Sue Wright is the conference director and, when it comes to narrowing down sponsors and choosing conference panels, Leikin and Doueck seek the help of the EMC board.

“I think that we do a pretty good job of keeping the material fresh. We try to have new topics at every conference. In Houston, we’re doing a panel on blockchain and other technologies in retail energy. Just a good example of here’s something topical, something people are starting to discuss.” Leikin said.

The Future of EMC

Leikin said he and Doueck have a two-fold plan for the future of the conference: growing media material offered under the brand and continuing to grow each conference’s size. Part of the push for providing more media stems from having downtime between conferences for those who attend.

“Last year, we started doing virtual panels, webinars, during those in-between times,” he said. “So, three months after a conference or three months before a conference we’ve been doing these webinars. That’s one way that we want to stay relevant with our audience.” They also started a monthly newsletter a couple of years ago, a publication in which sponsors and clients write articles.

What results is a conference that isn’t just a one time experience for professionals but, rather, a year-round, valuable experience.

Leikin said there’s always a push to keep expanding the conference itself, too.

“A big part of evolving the conference is growing into bigger and better spaces,” he said. “We’ve had a progression of venues in New York; we’re now on our fourth venue. In Houston, we’re moving to our second. We’ll be at the Hyatt Regency, which is a much nicer, much bigger venue.”

Details About This Year’s Houston EMC

The conference kicks off at 6 p.m. on April 1 with a welcome reception and presentation titled, “Opening Up Florida Electricity Choice” by Citizens for Energy Choices, who took another step closer to a retail-energy-market amendment this past week.

Steffes’ keynote address will take place at 9 a.m. on April 2, followed by a trio of panels covering channel partnerships, distributed resources and new foreign and domestic competitive workshops. The day concludes with a CEO roundtable discussion and a networking reception.

The full conference program can be found here.

Registration for the conference is open now. Readers of Energy Pages can save $100 on their registration fee by using the discount code “Trusted20”Leikin said.

“The EMC is the one place where the vast majority of retail energy providers and the people that service them will all be together in one spot,” he said. “So, whether you’re a REP and you’re networking and talking to the people you worked with in the past, or you’re looking for new solutions, technology, or marketing rooms, it’s a great place to do that.”

A Closer Look

EMC 11 Banner

Manuel is Executive Vice President at Energy Pages. He has over 18 years of experience in managing Digital Media, Publishing and Branding. He has worked as a consultant for various marketing agencies, giving him a unique perspective and an in-depth understanding of multiple industries. In his free time, you can find him traveling, playing guitar and grilling.

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