Marco Island, FL (PRWEB) September 15, 2005
Home improvement industry retailers, distributors and manufacturers attended open dialogue sessions and vendor exhibits at the 17th annual Hardware Conference Sept. 9-11 in Marco Island, Fla.
The annual conference continues to widen its appeal and attract retailers from across the country. This year, retailer attendees included Rocco Falcone of the Springfield, Mass.-based Rocky's Ace Hardware, which has 25 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Michel Chenier from Embrun, Ontario Canada's multi-unit Embrun Cooperative attended, as did Tom Pitkin of the Dale City, Va.-based Pitkin's Home Center.
Pitkin, who has been attending the conference for several years, said the event is particularly beneficial to him to train and motivate team members at his three stores. "Talking to the vendors provides us with a great training tool for employees," he said.
Rebuilding was a recurring theme for 550 conference attendees as well. Retailers spoke about the rebuilding process impacting stores across the country damaged by hurricanes, fires and other disasters. Bill Zeithammer of Isles Do it Best Hardware led a standing-room-only discussion about how he and his family coped with the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. Zeithammer also reviewed the process of rebuilding his Punta Gorda, Fla. hardware store with attending retailers and discussed plans for the store's upcoming grand re-opening. Zeithammer gave attending retailers suggestions about how to proactively prepare for disasters, including keeping records and dealing with insurance companies throughout the year.
North American Retail Hardware Association President, Tom Green of the Rochester, N.Y.-based Mayer's Hardware, attended the conference and said he enjoyed mingling with a variety of store owners and vendors. "The conference format and open dialogue sessions are ideal for information exchange," Green said.
Event organizers Tom and Dale Chasteen, who own Tavernier, Fla-based Tavernier Ace Hardware, said attending retailers represented Ace Hardware, Do it Best, Orgill and True Value.
Topics covered in the open dialogue sessions included promoting new products, retail pricing strategies, national brands versus private labels, in-store demonstrations, advertising, working with vendor reps and training employees.
"Retailers seemed to be very focused on product presentation in their stores and category management for maximizing space and sales per square foot," Tom Chasteen said about the open dialogue sessions. "They mentioned size of packaging and the importance of graphics in packaging."
While at the conference, attending retailers previewed new items that will be available for them to buy at the fall wholesaler markets. Some of the new products previewed in conference exhibits included the crete-sheet concrete mixing system demonstrated by the Austin, Texas-based SDS Design, a rechargeable LED flashlight/cellular phone charger from the Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Maxxima, and ceramic appliquÃ©s showcased by the Fort Pierce, Fla.-based Creative Ceramics that add a decorative touch in home dÃ©cor.
Mike O'Hara of O'Hara True Value, Ottumwa, Iowa, said, "We also enjoyed the opportunity to preview new products and interact with the vendors."
Honorees for the 2005 conference included a Beacon Award to the Hayes family of the Bell, Fla-based Do it Best and Lifetime Achievement awards to Doug Mathews of Marco True Value in Marco Island, Fla. and Saralea Freeman of Ace Hardware Corp., who is retiring after 37 years with Ace Hardware.
Event sponsors for 2005 include the North American Retail Hardware Association, 3M, Activant Solutions, Inc., CooperTools, Damp Rid, Duracell Batteries, H.D. Hudson Manufacturing, Hillman Group, Irwin, Krylon, KST Coatings, Miami Childrens Hospital Foundation, Minwax, Poms and Associates, Robert Bosch Tool Corp., Toolbox Marketing, and Weber Stephens Products.
The 2006 Hardware Conference is scheduled for September 10Â12, 2006 at the Marco Island Marriott in Marco Island, Florida. For more information, visit thehardwareconference.com or call (305) 853-0049.
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