News

Home Improvement Manufacturers, Distributors Meet to Strategize the Year Ahead
St Petersburg, FL (December 2, 2019) – The 2020 Executive Planning Conference, hosted by Charlotte-based Distribution America (DA) and Denver-based PRO Group Inc., was held November 19-21 at the historic Vinoy Renaissance Resort. The conference united over 350 of the nation’s top suppliers and distributors that serve the independent home improvement industry with the goal of strengthening relationships and discussing challenges and opportunities for the coming year.

The partnership between DA and PRO Group for this event provided increased efficiency for the vendor community by reducing expenses and travel days. With over 2,300 business meetings over the course of the event, the schedule was intense yet productive, offering manufacturers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with key decision makers in each organization. Topics discussed included new product launches, fill rates, promotions, order turn-around time, and new business opportunities. Brian McCarthy, Vice President of Sales at RZ Industries commented that, “the conference was extremely productive for us. We had the opportunity to meet with many members and have their full attention as we presented our products. The feedback was excellent, and we are very excited about our future relationships with DA and PRO.” “The efficiency and productivity of these two days can’t be matched,” added Bruce Fischer, Vice President of Sales at the Werner Company. “It’s a great combination of business and casual time with a great group of business partner friends.” In addition to the one-on-one sessions, the unique networking events offered an opportunity for distributor and vendor partners to discuss the coming year’s business in a more relaxed atmosphere including a scramble golf tournament and a Havana Nights themed reception sponsored by the National Hardware Show.
“Year after year the event draws top level executives from the industry’s most important distributors and suppliers,” said Steve Synnott, President and CEO at PRO Group. “The Renaissance Vinoy property was an amazing venue for group meals and golf, and the highlight of the EPC: the private scheduled appointments to review prior year progress and plan the new years’ objectives.”

Jonathan Mize, CEO & President at Blish-Mize Co., added, “the Executive Planning Conference is a great opportunity for our company to share goals and insights with our vendor partners while simultaneously learning more about their individual businesses, and how we all can help drive additional sales to our independent retail customers. Attending an event like this and having key executives from all companies represented, working and understanding things together, provides a stronger partnership that benefits all parties.”

The conference also featured a popular feature item display area. Distributor attendees selected the best new products and awards were presented to the manufacturers in the major hardline categories. The Overall Best New Product was awarded to Nix Color Sensor for their Portable Color Scanning Device with App.

With numerous opportunities to explore new product, meet face-to-face with vendor partners and enjoy networking events such as golf and receptions, many member distributors have already registered for next year’s Executive Planning Conference. “This meeting is one that I put first on my calendar each and every year,” said Alex Hodge, President at Horizon Distribution, Inc. “There’s no better place to plan together with our key vendors, face-to-face, in a relaxing and productive atmosphere”

Dave Christmas, President and CEO of Distribution America, added, “the conference presents opportunities to strengthen relationships between our distributor members and the vendors that support independent hardware
stores, home centers, and paint sundry retailers. Each meeting provides manufacturers the opportunity to meet
with the key decision makers from most of the nation’s largest independent distributors.”

Early registration has begun for next year’s conference November 17-19, 2020 at the Westin La Paloma Resort in
Tucson, Arizona.

The following are all the winners of the featured product area and the vendor and key suppliers of the year for
both DA and PRO Group.

Featured Product Awards:
• Hand & Power Tools – Stanley Black and Decker – DeWalt 20V Max Pole Saw
• Hardware – Fusion Grip Straps – Heavy Duty Magnetic Hook Ratchet Straps
• Plumbing – ECO-FLO Products – 1/3 HP WiFi Enabled Sump Pump
• Electrical – Eaton Wiring Devices – Direct Mount 5 CCT-Select Light
• Lawn & Garden – Boss Manufacturing Company – Neoprene Black Knee Boot with Steel Shank
• Safety – Kidde Safety – DC Combo Smoke/CO Alarm
• Overall Winner – Nix Sensor Ltd. – Portable Color Scanning Device with App

Distribution America Vendors of the Year
Electrical: Satco Products
Paint and Paint Sundries: PPG Architectural Finishes
Hardware: Midwest Fastener
Hand and Power Tools: Stanley Black & Decker
Plumbing: Fluidmaster Inc.
Lawn and Garden: The Ames Companies
2019 Overall Vendor Partnership Award: Apex Tool Group

PRO Group, Inc. Key Suppliers of the Year:
Tools: Apex Tool Group
Plumbing: Oatey SCS
Hardware: Master Lock Company
Paint Sundries: Warp Brothers
Electrical: Southwire
Lawn and Garden: Boss Manufacturing Co.
Key Supplier of the Year: DAP Products

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Distribution America (www.daonline.com) is a multi-billion dollar buying and
marketing organization, covering 50 states and international markets assisting retailers and distributors with
merchandising and marketing programs including Priced Right Everyday®, Sentry, Trustworthy Hardware and
Golden Rule.

PRO Group, Inc. (www.pro-group.com) is a multidivisional international merchandising and marketing organization
with corporate headquarters in Denver. Its operating units include PRO Hardware, GardenMaster, FARM MART
and GOLDEN-LINK. With over 70 distributors operating over 140 distribution centers serving all 50 states, the
Group’s combined sales volume exceeds $6 billion through its member distributors and an alliance with the VALTEST
Group.

Distribution America and PRO Group Kick Off Annual Executive
Planning Conference in Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, AZ (November 18, 2018) – “Bringing the best together from Manufacturing and Distribution!” That’s how Jim Hegner, Corporate Accounts Manger from Midwest Fastener, described this year’s event which was staged at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort.

More than 350 distributors and manufacturers attended the annual Executive Planning Conference (EPC) and participated in more than 2,600 one-on-one sessions. During those sessions, distributors and manufacturers discussed topics ranging from new product and program launches, prior year fill-rates, order turn-around time, promotional effectiveness and new business opportunities.

According to Steve Draeger, President and CEO at United Hardware, “The EPC conference is a great opportunity to share insight with our vendor partners into each other’s business and to leverage that insight into plans that will ultimately drive additional sales through our retailers. The environment is truly conducive to developing quality partnerships that benefit all parties.”

Robert Fischer from World and Main stated that, “The Executive Planning Conference is the most important conference for distributors and vendors as we are able to meet with the executive decision makers and thus able to draw up a quick plan for business growth for the coming year.”

In addition to the one-on-one sessions, the unique networking events offered an opportunity for distributor and vendor partners to discuss the coming year’s business in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Steve Synnott, President and CEO of PRO Group Inc. cited “The EPC’s timing is well-aligned with manufacturer and distributor executives who want to finalize 2018 actions and lay the groundwork for 2019 initiatives.  Attendees truly value the event, the executive interaction it facilitates and the opportunities to socialize with peers in a resort setting”.

 “The EPC meeting gave our company a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with the people driving change at some of our largest vendor partners,” said Alex Hodge, Director of Sales at Horizon Distribution. “In addition, the great show buys and networking among peers in the industry made this meeting well worth the investment of time and money.”

Dave Christmas, President and CEO at Distribution America, added, “The conference provides an opportunity to expand relationships between our distributor members and the vendors that support our group and industry. Each prescheduled meeting provides manufacturers the opportunity to meet with the principles from most of the nation’s largest independent distributors to discuss future opportunities and promotions, present new products, and review strategic objectives for the coming year. The conference also provides a perfect venue to recognize those vendors who are truly the best of the best within their product category with our Vendor of the Year awards.”

The 3-day event also featured a scramble golf tournament and a Thursday night football themed reception sponsored by the National Hardware Show. The popular feature item display area also returned this year.  Distributor attendees selected the best new products and presented awards to the manufacturers in the major hardline categories. The New Product Winners included an overall award to RZ Mask for the Air Filtration Dust and Pollution Mask.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Distribution America and Denver-based PRO Group, Inc. conduct the conference jointly, providing networking opportunities within the industry, reducing costs and increasing value to attendees.

Best New Product Awards:

Hand & Power Tools – Stanley Black & Decker 20V Max Inflator

  • Hardware – Screw-it-Again Wood Anchor
  • Paint Sundries – Rustoleum High Output Spray Paint
  • Plumbing – Magna Industries Quick-Fix Copper Pipe Repair
  • Electrical – Leviton Manufacturing USB Combination Outlet
  • Lawn & Garden/Pet – Swan Products Element Viper Hose
  • Specialty – Camco Manufacturing Wine Tumbler Set
  • Overall Winner RZ Mask Air Filtration Dust and Pollution Mask 

Distribution America Vendors of the Year

Electrical: Gardner Bender

Paint and Paint Sundries: Linzer

Hardware: Midwest Fastener

Hand and Power Tools: Century Drill

Plumbing: Genova Products, Inc.

Lawn and Garden: Woodstream

2018 Overall Vendor Partnership Award: Stanley Black & Decker

PRO Group, Inc. Key Suppliers of the Year:

Tools: Stanley Black & Decker

Plumbing: Oatey

Hardware: Master Lock Company

Paint Sundries: Dap Products Inc.

Electrical: World & Main

Key Supplier of the Year: Chapin International

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The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Distribution America (www.daonline.com) is a multi-billion dollar buying and marketing organization, covering 50 states and international markets assisting retailers and distributors with merchandising and marketing programs including Priced Right Everyday®, Sentry, Trustworthy Hardware and Golden Rule. Leviton Manufaturing for the USB Comination Outlet,

PRO Group, Inc. (www.pro-group.com) is a multidivisional international merchandising and marketing organization with corporate headquarters in Denver. Its operating units include PRO Hardware, GardenMaster, FARM MART and GOLDEN-LINK. With over 79 distributors operating over 140 distribution centers serving all 50 states, the Group’s combined sales volume exceeds $6 billion through its member distributors and an alliance with the VAL-TEST Group.