Las Vegas -- The networking, the education and the product pitching began in spades at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning with the opening of the 2012 National Hardware Show.
Buyers and retailers come for many reasons, one of which was articulated by Dan Fesler, CEO of St. Paul, Minn.-based Lamperts: "You have to take a look at what's out there every once in a while."
That advice is music to the ears of the show's organizers. One of them, VP attendee programs Sonya Ruff Jarvis told Home Channel News the show is expected to be larger than last year's event, plus attentive to the needs of the retailers. "Coming into this show, every indictor was pointing up," she said. "Pre-registered attendance was trending up, so we're excited." She pointed to new areas for pet products, "Made in USA" products and energy-efficient products as examples of better organization designed to tap into retail trends.
Some 2,500 exhibitors are displaying products here at the Las Vegas Convention Center, including General Tools, a company celebrating its 90th anniversary with a birthday cake in its booth. At the booth, chairman Gerry Weinstein celebrated the pioneering spirit of his grandparents Abraham and Lillian Rosenberg who founded the company and carefully scouted factories throughout the Northeast. "They were the original outsourcers," he said.
What was their first product? That's unclear. "We think it was the egg slicer," he said.
During a keynote presentation at the North American Retail Hardware Association's Village Stage, former Wal-Mart executive Michael Bergdahl described the importance of risk taking in the early days of Wal-Mart and for the modern hardware store. "In the early days of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton took risks and nine out of ten times, he failed," said Bergdahl, who was director of people for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant.
Companies that encourage employees to take risks, and accept the good along with the bad, are the ones most likely to win, he said. "You will take risks as a merchant. Some time, you will hit a home run."
On the same stage also on Tuesday, a panel discussion titled "Trends in the paint and sundries industry" revealed challenges and opportunities. Fuel costs and freight charges were cited as one challenge by the panel of vendors from Red Devil, Ames Research and Giani. As for opporunities? "The remodeling market is where the money is going to be for the next several years," said Peter Cary from Ames Research.
The event, which is attracting about 30,000 industry professionals, features some 800 new exhibitors. The show runs through Thursday.