Conference attendees got to enjoy Marco Island’s beautiful beach.
The 35th edition of The Hardware Conference, held August 18-20 at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Fla., demonstrated the strength of the independent channel.
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 strive to put on a family-friendly event that combines business with fun. Many great ideas were shared during casual conversations in the hospitality suite.
Breakfast on the patio was a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
The hospitality suite’s outdoor terrace was the perfect spot to catch a gorgeous sunset.
One of the highlights of this year’s Conference was the Friday evening banquet, where four of the industry’s best retailers were honored during the 11th annual Beacon Awards program. See additional story on page 40.
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.
Conference Director Craig Cope.
Tom Bronson of Mastery Partners gave the featured presentation on business transition planning.
The wholesale community lends important support to the Conference each year, with Orgill and Do it Best holding luncheon meetings for their dealers.
“This is the only event where all levels of the hardware industry can talk, mingle and share ideas,” said Chris Bunch, corporate account manager for Orgill. “The Hardware Conference is a relaxed atmosphere where we can share thoughts about trends in the industry and really get to know folks.”
The roundtable discussion featured Beacon winners (l to r): Jason Plummer, Bart Raser and Michael Townsend.
The O’Shea family from All American Hardware in Hauppauge, N.Y., with a few extra friends.
Debra and Miller Tobierre.
Steven Rottenberg, director of sales-Eastern U.S. for RESCUE, said, “This is our first year here at The Hardware Conference and during the last couple of days I’ve been able to meet hardware store owners and other manufacturer representatives. The Conference isn’t about filling out a sales form, it’s about long-term relationships, which is huge in this immersive setting. At other shows, we don’t get the time to have genuine conversations.”
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 $18,400, bringing the total fundraising amount over 35 years to more than $1.2 million.