Nearly 750 Nexstar Network contractors and staff converged Sept. 13-15 in Washington, D.C. to attend the organization’s annual Super Meeting and celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Nexstar Network CEO Jack Tester opened the event by speaking about the theme of not just the Super Meeting but the entire anniversary year: “On the shoulders of giants.”

"When we learn how to lift up those around us, they can see farther, and our businesses grow,” Tester explained. “This is an amazing time to be working with Nexstar. I feel better this year than any of our other 24 years.”

Keynote speakers at this year’s event included Steve Cadigan, former LinkedIn head of HR and founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures, who spoke about recruiting and retaining valuable employees.

"What asset do we have at our business that doesn't cost us anything?” Cadigan asked. “Our culture. Recruiting is the most important muscle of any business.”

Nexstar Network Director of Training Keith Mercurio also spoke about the difficulty many contractors face when recruiting new talent.

"We can't find good people,” he said. “The trade schools are diminishing — the sexiness of the trades has diminished. We recognize this battle, and it is real. A year and a half ago, we realized we needed to head outside our industry. ... it seems like it's an impossible obstacle, but it's not."

During a panel discussion on how to become an “employer of choice,” Mary Jean Anderson, owner of Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air in El Cajon, Calif., suggested employers “learn your weaknesses and get help in that area. Similarly, fellow panel member Steffan Busch, a Nexstar Network business coach, also suggested contractors “find out what it is about your company that makes people want to be there and work on that."

Panel member Jonathan Bancroft, president of Morris Jenkins Co., also suggested taking action.

"Believe in people and take charge in helping them develop,” he said. “Go do something about it — nobody's going to do it for you. We're all in this together."

Tester also elaborated on Nexstar’s new training program, NexTech Academy, on the last day of the event.

“This is going to be interactive and online-based,” he said. “We’re really releasing the dogs on this one to get it done. We plan to introduce plumbing and HVAC in the spring, and when we find the right electrical coach, we’ll include that trade.”

The Super Meeting came to an end with a keynote presentation by motivational speaker Dr. Nido Qubein followed by closing remarks from Nexstar Network founder and former PM columnist Frank Blau Jr.

“It’s powerful to see our own members, who started at the bottom and grew their companies from nothing, and the intelligence of some of these people,” Blau said. “Tears start to fall from my eyes when I observe this.