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Annual Hardware Conference Helps Strengthen the Independent Channel

Chris Jensen

Conference attendees got to enjoy the beautiful beach and pools of the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.

Conference attendees got to enjoy the beautiful beach and pools of the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.

The 34th edition of The Hardware Conference, held August 19-21 at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Fla., demonstrated the resilience and fighting spirit of the independent channel. Outstanding retailers were honored during the Beacon Awards banquet, while other retail attendees claimed business is strong despite ongoing challenges.

The Hardware Conference was started in 1988 as a way to build relationships to keep the two-step channel of distribution healthy for vendors, wholesalers and retailers. Conference directors Craig and Shanti Cope work hard to put on a family-friendly event that combines business with fun. Those in attendance said the Conference still has a valuable role to play facilitating open dialogue between trading partners.

Breakfast on the patio was a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Breakfast on the patio was a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Dale and Tom Chasteen, Larry and Nancy Huot.

Dale and Tom Chasteen, Larry and Nancy Huot.

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Conference Director Craig Cope.

Conference Director Craig Cope.

Leading vendors participated with tabletop booths displaying their latest product innovations, which retailers could view during Saturday and Sunday morning exhibit hours as well as during the cocktail reception Saturday evening. Since the Conference is not a buying show, dealers can learn more about the suppliers and their product innovations without feeling pressured to buy.

The wholesale community lends important support to the Conference each year, with Orgill and Do it Best Corp. both holding luncheon meetings for their dealers.

Retailers got a chance to learn more about the vendors’ product innovations without the frenzy of a buying show.

Retailers got a chance to learn more about the vendors’ product innovations without the frenzy of a buying show.

The Hardware Conference has always been welcoming to the whole family.

The Hardware Conference has always been welcoming to the whole family.

David Mobley, executive vice president of sales for Orgill, commented that it was a terrific time to be with customers and friends in the industry. “We’re happy to be here,” he said.

One tradition that continues is the support the industry attendees show for the children’s hospital. On the last night of the Conference all the vendors auction off their booths and the money raised is donated to the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation. This year’s auction raised $16,000, bringing the total fundraising amount over 34 years to more than $1.2 million.

The roundtable discussion featured Beacon winners (l to r): Larry Huot, Mitch Johnson, Phil Cheeves and Mike MacKay.

The roundtable discussion featured Beacon winners (l to r): Larry Huot, Mitch Johnson, Phil Cheeves and Mike MacKay.

The members of the U.S. Office for Bombing Prevention enjoyed the chance to relax and unwind with their spouses.

The members of the U.S. Office for Bombing Prevention enjoyed the chance to relax and unwind with their spouses.

Continue Reading in the September/October 2022 issue here.

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