Mike Miazga 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The annual WIT Honors Achievement and Marketing winners were recognized recently at the buying group's 2012 fall networking meeting at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix. Elkhart, Ind.-based Mid-City Supply was the overall winner and also picked up the advertising and brand awareness category award. Mid-City has won the overall WHAM award twice since 2009. Mid-City President-Owner Jeff New was the star of a series of well-done television commercials that aired in 2011 on the local CBS affiliate. New reported the commercials played a big role in the company enjoying a 21.97% increase in showroom sales and a 9.78% increase in non-showroom sales. "We sell toilets. You have to have fun doing it," New told the audience in Phoenix after accepting the overall WHAM honor. Through an internal company promotion, Mid-City also raised an impressive $20,687 for United Way. The promotion exceeded expectations and resulted in New shaving off his trademark mustache to settle a bet related to the initiative. New brought in a local barber that still does a straight-razor shave and nearly 40 employees came out to watch their boss get rid of his mustache. "I hadn't seen my upper lip in 37 years," New said. Modern Supply, the 2011 Supply House Times Wholesaler of the Year, was the winner of the e-marketing/Web award for its Modern's Millie Kitchen and Bath Blab blog. Millie is the company's popular cartoon character spokeswoman. The blog has enjoyed success since it went live in August 2011. Surprise, Ariz.-based Canyon Pipe & Supply was the winner of the marketing research/business development honor for its partner marketing program. Ace Plumbing Heating & Electrical Supplies took home the merchandising/showroom award related to the successful launch of a new 6,000-sq.-ft. showroom in Vineland, N.J. Schumacher & Seiler won in the partners and events category. The Timonium, Md.-based company rolled out a gross margin dollars-based program that awarded a vacation trip incentive to a salesperson. The program's goal was exceeded. Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Rampart Supply won in the public relations category for its Made in America Spotlight initiative that included the contribution of funds to help with the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo. Rampart's spotlighted manufacturers made contributions based on their products' sales for a given time period and Rampart matched the contributions. WIT's fall meeting also was filled with beneficial best practices sessions on a number of different topics. WIT IT Director Kevin Roquemore gave an informative talk on cloud technology to wholesalers, while Plumbing Distributors Inc.'s Adrienne Wilkes and Wiseway's Marianne Brummett followed with their take on the importance of mobile technology in the workplace. Wilkes noted PDI now supplies iPads to its entire outside sales force. "If we took away their iPads, their production would go down big-time," Wilkes said. Brummett cited a statistic that predicted tablet Web visits will surpass smart phone visits by January 2013. Service Supply of Victoria's Dan Rice generated plenty of discussion with his presentation on sales force training and performance improvement. Rice shared his company's hiring, training and commission practices. "We've added 300 customers in the last 12 months," Rice said."Sales guys like what we are doing. We're seeing guys really dig into territories." Marketing expert Kelly McDonald delivered the meeting's keynote address on marketing to different generations. For more on McDonald's talk, read Editor Mike Miazga's column on page63. To see video interviews with Mid-City Supply's New and McDonald, visit www.supplyht.com. WIT's 2013 Distributor Vendor Conference will be held April 1-5 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The 2013 fall networking meeting takes place Sept. 9-13 at Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C. AIM-R conference stresses education through networking Manufacturers representatives from around the country headed back to school recently. AIM/R's 40th annual conference held at the Hyatt Regency Boston featured an AIM/R University theme where best practices and networking sessions were treated as college-level courses. Educational opportunities and productive networking sessions were in abundance during the nearly three-day event. Lively discussions were commonplace throughout the conference. The manufacturers' breakfast and orientation hosted by past AIM/R presidents at the historic Boston Opera House generated discussion on how a difficult territory should be dealt with. Several prominent plumbing industry manufacturers advocated stepping up assistance on their end and fostering a greater cooperative effort between manufacturer and rep entities. Upstairs at the Opera House, AIM/R's Leaders of Tomorrow young executives group hosted a well-attended three-hour session that included rep agency profiles, an introduction to rep contracts, as well as Sandra Long's "Legacy to Leader" talk. The conference's general session kicked off with Institute for Trend Research's Dr. Jeff Dietrich presenting a somewhat brighter picture of the nation's economic situation both now and in the immediate future. "What Americans are doing with money right now is a positive," he said. "People aren't buying everything they think they want, but they are back to buying stuff." Dietrich also noted optimism stems from the nation's current demographic."The current average is 2.1 units (children) per family," he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd for the use of the word 'units.' "If you want to be anywhere in the world, you want to be in an economy that is growing and creating the next generation of laborers, consumers and taxpayers. Change is happening. We're already creating that next generation of those contributing to rebuilding and regenerating this country." And the immediate future? "Another recession is not imminent. That's the signal we are seeing," said Dietrich, who noted the year 2029 is one to keep an eye on in terms of significant economic turmoil. "2014 looks like it could be mild and 2018 could be a more significant recession unless we reduce debts and deficits." Dietrich's "Make Your Move!" Presentation title was aimed directly at businesses. "There is opportunity even with the economy as damaged as it has been," he said. "The economy is already healing and is recovering and will grow stronger. We still live in the land of opportunity - opportunity as it impacts our space and the rest of the world." Calera Capital Managing Partner Mark Williamson talked to reps and manufacturers about private equity, while Rich-Tompkins President Stew Chaffee discussed the future of the manufacturer-wholesaler-rep relationship, presenting findings from an informal AIM-R rep survey on the topic. Chaffee invited A.O. Smith's John Altepeter and Chicago faucets' Matthew Hurley on stage to join the forum. ASA Education Foundation Executive Director Amy Black closed the general session with her overview on the benefits of ASA University. A town hall meeting among reps produced beneficial talks on topics such as lead-free legislation and how reps are working with manufacturers to prepare for the upcoming change; Internet sales; health care; and relationships with wholesalers. Technology consultant and author Paul Gillin delivered his presentation on rep B2B marketing and social media strategy. "If a buyer's behavior is shifting and digital is part of it, you need to be aware of it," he said. F. W. Webb President and ASA President-Elect Jeff Pope addressed the Friday lunchtime crowd on the benefits of ASA for manufacturers reps. Motivational speaker and comedian Charles Marshall brought the house down with his humorous presentation on customer service. Marshall noted businesses always should remember the letters SERVE: Surprise customers with excellence; evaluate their needs and train to be an active listener; respond to needs; validate a customer's experience with you; and extend the relationship into a future relationship. "Good customer service doesn't mean you don't ever make a mistake," he said. "Good customer service and good character means you man up and show up and make it right." Other topics of discussion at AIM/R included entrepreneurship, leadership, tablets and cloud technology, and succession planning. The conference's new Rep Café session where breakout groups discussed best practices and concerns and then relayed key talking points to the entire assembly was again a major hit and was requested to be included in future conferences. Michel Sales President Kelly Michel was the conference's "commencement speaker" on the final day and delivered a tremendous speech outlining his rep career progression, while giving reps poignant advice on preparing for the future. AIM-R's 2013 Board of Directors was sworn in with Preferred Sales' President Alan Guidish taking over as AIM/R's new president and Burke Agency's Brian Burke, the 2012 conference chairman, becoming president-elect. The 2013 AIM/R Conference will be held Sept. 25-29 in Albuquerque, N.M. Video interviews from the AIM/R Conference can be viewed at www.supplyht.com. Blackman Plumbing Supply's Richard Blackman dies Blackman Plumbing Supply Co. Chairman of the Board Richard Blackman died Sept. 19. He was 79.Blackman joined Blackman Plumbing in the early 1950s, working initially at the company's Flushing,N. Y. branch where he learned all facets of the business. In 1975, he succeeded his father and company founder Sam Blackman as CEO. Over the next 37 years, Blackman was instrumental in the diversification of the company from basic plumbing and water works supplies to air conditioning, heating and the retail showroom business, including bath and kitchen design services. He also was a key driver in the company's expansion. Blackman now features 22 branches and showrooms located throughout metropolitan New York, as well as a newly constructed distribution center and corporate headquarters in Bayport, N.Y. "All of us at Blackman are deeply saddened by this profound loss," President Robert Mannheimer said. "Mr. Blackman was a visionary who grew the company from a small plumbing supply shop founded by his father in 1921 in New York City to its current position as a market leader. Mr. Blackman inspired all of us with his leadership and dedication. He will be deeply missed." Davis & Warshow facility reaches net zero costs Longtime New York luxury wholesaler Davis & Warshow converted its 209,000-sq.-ft. Queens facility lighting from fluorescent tubes to LED lighting and became the first facility in the U.S. to reach net zero lighting costs with LED tubes and the largest single-facility LED tube installation with the best energy-efficient lighting per sq.-ft. in the country. Davis & Warshow was able to reach the net zero lighting benchmark in part because of a rooftop solar array installed in 2011. Davis & Warshow President David Finkel noted it cost more than $250,000 to convert to LED, but at the ceremony at company headquarters Con Ed executives presented Finkel with a check for $63,704, representing rebates earned for the conversion based on annual kWh saved using Made in America fixtures. The LED conversion and solar array are part of the company's Practically Green initiative - a pragmatic program to going green that started in 2008.
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