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Home Improvement Industry Leaders Gather in North Carolina

Sales and marketing leaders from across the home improvement manufacturing landscape came together for the 52nd spring meeting of the Hardware Marketing Council (HMC) held May 30-June 1 at The Washington Duke Inn in Durham, North Carolina.

HMC is made up of top sales and marketing leaders that manufacture products for the home improvement market, according to Pat Sheehan, HMC’s managing director.

The annual meeting is designed to share best marketing practices, gain a better understanding of key customers’ strategies and learn from industry experts about emerging technologies. This year, speakers also discussed realities facing the industry including retailer challenges and opportunities, economic predictions and hiring and retention strategies.

Speakers at the meeting included Dan Tratensek, COO and publisher of the North American Hardware & Paint Association (NHPA); Connor Lokar, economist at ITR Economics; Mark Fisher, president of TZ Recruiting; Bobby Baylis, merchandising vice president of The Home Depot; and Ged King, CEO and Matt Goldfarb, vice president of growth and innovation of Sales Factory.

Tratensek shared insights on independent home improvement retail operations performed during and after COVID, indicating now is a critical point for the channel. He discussed specific strategies manufacturers could use to be competitive and build lasting partnerships with retail operations.

Lokar shared an update on the current economic climate and predictions for the future including some of the drivers that will influence business and the home improvement market. He also provided some key opportunities manufacturers have for growth in the next 18 months. 

Fisher led a discussion on overcoming hiring and retention challenges plaguing much of the global economy today, including the home improvement industry. He cited top priorities influencing employment decisions, offered advice on recruiting top talent and shared strategies for building growth opportunities for highly-motivated employees.

Baylis spoke about The Home Depot’s vision for the store of the future, including improvements to store layout and customer experience. Additionally, he shared tactics for manufacturers when working with the company, updates on e-commerce and plans for future growth. 

Finally, the team at Sales Factory shared insights on consumer behavior and pricing strategies. King and Goldfarb shared examples of brands that are finding success with consumers, data and trends influencing buyer behavior and pricing methodology.

Karen O’Connell, sales manager at InSinkErator, a newer member of the organization, offered feedback about the value of the spring meeting and her membership.

“HMC offers a unique opportunity to be in a room with people from different positions and experience levels in the home improvement industry. It allows me to build new connections, network and share best practices,” O’Connell says. “The diverse group of speakers at each event ensures we are focused on current issues, making this a must-attend event for me. At the spring meeting, we were able to hear some of the challenges our customers and peers are facing in today’s market and discuss solutions and strategies.”

To learn more about the Hardware Marketing Council, the upcoming fall meeting of the council or request more information on becoming part of the top 125 sales and marketing leaders on the HMC, contact Pat Sheehan at hmcpks@gmail.com or visit online.

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