Hardlines Distribution Alliance (HDA) hosted its Executive Planning Conference (EPC) last week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, hosting over two dozen distributors and 122 vendors. The EPC is designed to maximize interactions and provide opportunities to network over the three-day event.
On Tuesday, attendees were treated to a golf tournament at Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass. Golfers enjoyed competing for prizes, a hole-in-one contest and a beverage cart sponsored by the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA). That evening, all attendees had the opportunity to network at the welcome reception and enjoy cocktails in the Great Room and Cascades Deck.
On Wednesday morning, the pre-scheduled, one-on-one appointments kicked off. During these meetings, manufacturer partners had the opportunity to review program and marketing details and new product launches and discuss objectives for the coming year with distributor members. These vital meetings allowed vendor partners to see dozens of distributor members in one location, thereby maximizing ROI at one of the most interactive events in the industry.
During an awards luncheon later that day, HDA was excited to announce the 2023 Suppliers of the Year and honor those vendors for their sales performance, program elements, support from HDA member distributors and overall group program support.
“Spending time meeting one-on-one is invaluable for planning a successful year,” says Shari Kalbach, HDA president. “The EPC is an ideal format for strategizing sales tactics, reviewing program details and addressing challenges. HDA is excited to host such an important event each year.”
Later Wednesday evening, all attendees were treated to the “Culinary Visit to the 2023 PGA Majors” reception hosted by the National Hardware Show (NHS). Featuring cocktails and food stations with nods to the PGA Majors, attendees were also invited to wear their favorite tacky golf outfits, making this reception a popular networking destination. NHA also hosted a drawing to donate $3,000 in conjunction with HDA to one of three charities chosen by the winner: Make-A-Wish Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association or Homes for Wounded Warriors.
“You can meet with 20-25 people in one trip here at EPC,” says Jeff Jones, Midwest Fastener corporate accounts manager. “Not utilizing this event is not taking advantage of all the opportunities that exist in the HDA network.”
Throughout the conference, attending manufacturer partners also had the opportunity to display a featured item for distributor members to vote on. On Thursday, those winning featured products were announced and vendors were recognized for innovative and exciting products by category. By increasing brand awareness, the featured item area led to additional exposure for all participating vendor partners, making the EPC an ideal setting for both new and existing HDA manufacturers.
“The EPC is by far the best conference I have attended as a manufacturer in terms of speaking with multiple decision makers in purposeful meetings,” says Mat Tarrier, Tru Earth account manager.
By Thursday evening, scheduled meetings wrapped up with both vendor and distributor partners excited to take the next steps after forging business relationships over the week. HDA hosted one final farewell reception, providing another opportunity to network with those who might not have met during the scheduled meetings.
“The EPC is always a can’t-miss event each year,” says Alex Hodge, Horizon Distribution CEO. “Between the networking with other distributors and manufacturers and the great seeing, HDA provides a fantastic opportunity for continued growth, both personally and professionally.”