This summer, independent hardware retailers will have a one-stop-shop event that focuses on celebrating independent home improvement retailers and providing networking opportunities along with tools to elevate their businesses.
In August 2023, the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA) hosted its inaugural Independents Conference in Dallas, Texas. Just a few short weeks later, The Hardware Conference marked its 35th anniversary in Marco Island, Fla. This year, the two events will come together to form one, singular event called The Independent Home Improvement Conference.
“Last year, it became very clear both of our events had the same goal—helping independent retailers engage with one another, learn from one another and find ways to make their businesses more competitive and profitable,” says Craig Cope, owner of The Hardware Conference. “Why wouldn’t we find a way to bring all of these benefits together to create the Rose Bowl of events for independent home improvement retailers?”
The new Independent Home Improvement Conference will take place August 27-29, 2024 at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Fla., and will bring together all the networking opportunities, award programs and focused educational content these twoworld-class conferences offered in the past.
“The two events had distinct benefits they offered attendees and we both sought to create a climate where independent retailers of all types and affiliations could come together to spend time focusing on making their businesses better and stronger,” says Dan Tratensek, NHPA chief operating officer. “After last year, we both asked each other why we would make retailers choose which event to go to or to spend more money to have to go to both. Why not just give retailers the best of both worlds under one roof?”
The three-day Independent Home Improvement Conference will host awards programs, including The Hardware Connection’s Beacon Awards and NHPA’s Young Retailer of the Year and Hardware Retailing’s Top Guns.
“Along with everything else the Conference offers, featuring these three prominent awards programs throughout the event will put best-in-class independent operators in the spotlight where the entire industry can see the innovation, excitement and energy they bring to the channel,” says Bob Cutter, NHPA CEO.
From an education and training standpoint, the Independent Home Improvement Conference will focus on delivering attendees actionable ideas and content they can take back to their operations and drive improvements. The educational theme for the 2024 event is Retail Operations and Innovation or ROI (also return on investment), and in addition to high-energy keynote speakers and panel discussions with industry leaders, there will also be separate breakout sessions for more intimate educational opportunities.
“Along with the speakers and panels on the main stage, our breakout sessions will offer learning opportunities within four separate tracks: employee engagement, technology, retail operations and marketing/merchandising and advertising,” says Katie McHone-Jones, NHPA director of member services and events.
In addition to the awards programs and educational opportunities, attendees will have the opportunity to engage and interact with leading industry vendors and retail service providers in a casual atmosphere. These industry partners will be available to sit down and share their products and services as part of a robust exhibit hall open to conference attendees and through a variety of networking events.
“We have always focused on helping independent retailers build stronger relationships with each other and the vendors, distributors and service partners they work with,” Cope says. “This event will continue that tradition and we hope even more industry partners will join in to host their own events in and around the stage we are building together with NHPA.”
Attendees will also have plenty of opportunities for casual engagement and networking while enjoying the beach-front amenities available in and around the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort property.
“From walks on the beach to golf, swimming or just hanging out around the pool, there is no shortage of things to do if you want to take a break from the meetings and events,” Cope says.
Registration for the event will go live in February, and more information on keynote speakers, exhibitors, industry partner events, sponsors and more will be announced in the coming weeks.
Sign up to learn more and be the first to hear updates at www.ihiconference.org.