The Cameron Ashley "experience" hits Orlando

ORLANDO - Raising the bar on its level of customer service, aka the customer experience was part of the message Cameron Ashley presented at its 2020 Dealer Show.

Billed as “a spectacular four-day event that combines world-class entertainment, thought-provoking educational sessions and unlimited networking opportunities,” the event was held here at the Orlando World Center Marriot, Jan.9 - Jan. 12.

The event marks one of the largest gatherings of independent lumber dealers in the industry. More 1,500 guests were in attendance representing 300 dealer customers.

The exhibition portion of the show featured 90 vendors who were part of a one-day tradeshow, buying event where the best deals of the year were made available for dealers in attendance

According to CEO Donny DeMarie, the 2020 Dealer Show is part of the overall “Cameron Ashley experience.”

“It’s part of our differentiation,” he says. “We dig deep to offer our customers the best deals of the year.”

Cameron Ashley customers were busy buying some of the best deals in Orlando.

Other elements of the experience included fast product delivery, a new e-commerce platform and giving customers a "seat at the table," according to DeMarie. The distributor met with customers and conducted extensive surveys in 2019 so it can provide dealers with the level of service and product they are looking for.

"We've figured out our customers' needs and challenges and at the end of the day it's the experience we provide that sets us apart," said Courtney Bynum, Cameron Ashley customer experience manager.

During the show, Cameron Ashley also announced that it had acquired J&R Products, a distributor of tools, building products, and accessories based in Bluffton, Ind.

The setting of the show was chosen to provide Cameron Ashley’s dealers with a break from winter weather.

Cameron Ashley’s off-site, "Over the Top" activities included a Disney Key’s the Kingdom Tour, a Seaworld VIP Tour, a visit to the Kennedy Space Center that includes lunch with an astronaut, and a tour of several local breweries, among other options. A Universal CityWalk Block Party and a trip to Universal’s Islands of Adventure was also held at the event.

Keynote speakers include Lt. Col. Dan “Noonan” Rooney, a USAF fighter pilot with 3 combat tours in Iraq, a PGA Golf Professional, and the founder of Folds of Honor.

Legendary sports broadcaster and ESPN college basketball personality and Dick Vitale was the Saturday morning keynote speaker at the show. Vitale shared stories of job rejections he received after he fired by the Detroit Pistons in 1979. The dismissal eventually resulted in Vitale's historic broadcasting career at ESPN.

"This is America. You can be what you want to be. Chase your goals, chase your dreams," Vitale told a ballroom of attendees.

He also reminded guests that success often includes teamwork. Vitale has been inducted into 14 different halls of fame, including the Basketball Hall of Fame.

"No one gets to the Hall of Fame by yourself. It's the chain of people who help you that gets you there," Vitale said.