NAPBS 2009 Annual Conference

NAPBS 2009 Annual Conference St. Louis, Missouri April 2009


I think the quality, content and organization of this year’s conference again surpassed last year. The conference committee, headed by Mike Pachata and Don Owens did an outstanding job.

The attendance at the conference was down about 20% this year, but no surprise given the state of the economy. Not bad at all. Here are the details:

For 2009, there were 525 total attendees, down 20% from the 642 in 2008. However the number of companies with at least one person attending was only down 14%, from 261 to224. Interesting that the number of exhibitors was up32% but the number of exhibitor attendees was down 15% from 170 last year to 146 this year. Pretty obvious that everyone was watching their expense dollars this year.

The feedback from the fellow exhibitors was very positive although they and the attendees would really have liked even more face-to-face time to just network, talk, meet and greet. This conference serves the multi-purposes of education, organization, reporting to the members, exhibitors with their offerings, and, obviously a great opportunity for the industry to meet with each other to exchange ideas, share experiences and solve problems. The hotel was undergoing some construction but they did manage to keep the bars open til way too late in the wee hours of the morning. The sleeping rooms were great (all new) but they sure had no temperature control on the meeting rooms-brrrrr.

There was much official and informal discussion on accreditation. Companies from each membership category will be selected to be beta-tested. So, it looks like 2009 may actually see the accreditation process become a reality. Beta tests are to start in about three months.

NAPBS has accomplished a ton of work this past year. Details of all the committee activities will be posted on the napbs website, but to highlight:

  • Best Practices Committee:
    • Published Guidelines for RFPs.
    • Published Accreditation Checklist.
    • Established a sub committee for Government ID Verification Systems to coordinate with the feds on such things as I-9 verifications.
  • Conference Committee:
    • Put on two great conferences.
    • Documented all their knowledge in a “Conference in a Box.”
    • Three year advanced planning.
  • Education Committee:
    • Produced free monthly webinars for members.
  • Government Relations Committee:
    • Immigration sub-committee formed
    • Grassroots sub-committee-this is our voice via the web which got us favorable results in NM, OK, HI, CA credit use restrictions and use of credit reports for background screening nationwide. Without these efforts we would all be living with more bad laws.
    • Fly-in sub-committee (fly into DC to meet with FTC and lawmakers) a very, very effective process.
    • Access to court records sub-committee.
  • International Committee:
    • Now 19 countries with members.
  • Media Relations Committee:
    • Hired PR firm to help do more.
    • Eight articles in napbs Journal.
  • Membership Committee:
    • 225 new members in 2008.
  • Provider Committee:
    • Online exam for field researchers.
    • Publication of provider directory distributed at conference.
  • Tenant Screening Committee:
    • Newly formed in 2008 to give this segment a better voice.

So, if you wonder why you pay your dues, look at what has been accomplished. And most of the above was done with volunteers spending their own time and money to make these things happen for the good of the industry.

  • KPMG (Sheri Homa) reported on her study of the industry. 37% have been approached to sell their company, 33% have considered buying a business and 15% have actually considered selling their businesses.
  • She also reported companies experiencing price pressure but also reported almost half the companies expected things to turn better soon.
  • Anecdotally, I heard repeatedly that same store sales are off from 5-50% although a few companies have been able to capitalize on their past marketing efforts to garner enough new customers to have total sales for 2009 ahead of the same period last year. The key here is to be in market segments that are showing growth (government, start-ups, cash-for-gold) and segments that are holding steady (healthcare, low end retail and low end restaurants).
  • Last year in April I reported that “We see the valuations of companies holding up. How long this will last with the economy slowing and the potential for tax increases in 2009(capital gains, Social Security and Medicare) is anyone’s guess, but so far so good.” This year, we see the multiples weakening a tiny bit, but the biggest impact on value is the loss of sales/profits due to the downturn in the economy. There has not been a significant deal done in the entire industry in nine months, but stay tuned.


  • The reception on Sunday night was again excellent. Food, open bar, exhibitors, networking, information exchange, old and new friends, hugs and handshakes.
  • Monday night was a chance to go out for a nice dinner. We did and we had great dinner guests. Also, TU had sponsored a party which kept going very late and there were always people to talk to in the bar area.
  • Tuesday night was a blowout in a lounge on the top floor of an office building (40th floor) where we ate, talked, listened to a great band, got impromptu entertainment by NAPBS members, did some dancing and celebrated life.

People Stuff:

  • Dean Carras has taken the chair at the Conference Committee. Big job.
  • Billie Lee (and the rest of the Tulsa office) has left FADV-ADR and is looking for the right opportunity.
  • Todd Hensley has left Sterling and is looking for the right opportunity.
  • Ron Lashier, one of the predecessor companies that founded HireRight is now doing international searches.
  • Larry White, formerly with ChoicePoint is now with Yale Associates.
  • Jim Hall (former HR Plus, USIS and ChoicePoint) is now with Kroll Government services.
  • Bill Whitford (Rapsheets/LexisNexis) now has his own company.
  • Joe Reilly is retiring from Florida Drug Screening at the end of April.

Company News:

  • TransUnion has released a “direct to the landlord” product for small landlords. Noon-site inspection required.
  • The USIS people were there under the HireRight label.
  • If you haven’t noticed, Vanella is now operating under the HR Plus brand.

Conference Presentations included some great topics. I have not seen the stats yet, but all seemed to be very well attended and I heard mostly positive things and I heard no major complaints. The only problem was there were too many sessions and it was impossible to attend them all.

Thank you!

Everyone should send a personal thank you to the people who spend hundreds of hours a year to make this organization work so darn well. Thank you all. You should be proud of your accomplishments and efforts. The dues you pay and the conferences you support get you a fabulous return on a good investment. NAPBS has saved us all a lot of aggravation, created a forum for true exchanges of ideas, concepts and experiences that help each of us individually and as an industry. Support NAPBS!

The Mid-Year Conference will be in Atlanta Oct 25-27. Be there.
Next year’s Annual Conference will be in San Antonio, March 7-9. Be there too.

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