Distribution America and the PRO Group met for their Executive Planning Conference Nov. 12 to 14 in Tucson, Ariz., to discuss new product lines, program launches and business opportunities. More than 400 distributors and manufacturers were in attendance, and almost 2,800 scheduled meetings were held between buyers and sellers.
Among the participants were Todd Hermon, national accounts manager for Waukegan, Ill.-based Coleman Cable, who focused on potential growth opportunities for his consumer electrical product company. "We are seeing a bit of a rebound especially in regard to contractor-related business,” Hermon said. “We talk about ways to grow the business, whether we can add new items and how we can help each other."
Doyle Wallace, president & CEO for Morristown, Tenn.-based Wallace Hardware Co., said: "It is more important today than ever before that distributors do hands-on planning each year with our major vendors. More than discussing the basics, like history and promotions, we talk about how we are going to grow our business. We are also looking to partner with new vendors that complement our marketing strategy in our territory."
The National Hardware Show sponsored a special reception to promote the farm and ranch category, which will be prominent at the May 2013 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. Sonya Ruff Jarvis, VP attendee programs for Reed Exhibitions, said there will be a dedicated area at the National Hardware Show for farm and ranch manufacturers. “This entry into showcasing a new product category on the show floor reflects what we’re hearing out in the marketplace from retailers and distributors that this category is a growing segment that they are turning to for growth,” Ruff Jarvis said.
Steve Draeger, president of Plymouth, Minn.-based United Hardware Distributing Co., said the conference provides an opportunity to identify vendors who truly want to work with the wholesalers and grow their business profitably for the long term. “These are manufacturers who will work to make it happen rather than sit back and hope it happens,” Draeger said. He added that a benefit of the conference is interacting with top-level representatives from manufacturer companies. “Our team's task is rather simple: They are to grow our business and relationship with vendors who are interested in a three-way win: retailer, wholesaler and vendor.”
Don Hasson, CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based House-Hasson Hardware Co., said the conference is one of the only events in the industry where manufacturer executives and distributor executives can network with each other. "Our attitude regarding the hardware industry is always positive, regardless of the economy," he said. "It is important to us to have a person-to-person relationship with our key vendors.”