Hank Darlington 0000-00-00 00:00:00
PDI covers the greater Atlanta area and sells both plumbing and lighting. This year we selected two winners as 2010 Showrooms of the Year. Banner Plumbing Supply, Buffalo Grove, IL, won in the category of showrooms that are 10,000 sq. ft. And larger, and they were profiled last month. Now we will profile the other winner, in the 2,500-9,999 sq. ft. Category: Plumbing Distributors Inc. (PDI) based in Georgia. Their winning showroom is located at 1121 Huff Road in Atlanta. ABOUT THE COMPANY This plumbing wholesale business was started in 1973 by Glad Meator and his son Sid. Both are still involved with the business on a regular basis, but today Coley Herrin is the general manager in charge of day-to-day activities. The company is headquartered in Lawrenceville, GA, and operates six locations including five showrooms. The winning showroom on Huff Road in Atlanta is newly remodeled and was designed by Anita Ballard, who manages all five showrooms and also spends time selling at the Huff Road location. PDI covers the greater Atlanta area and sells both plumbing and lighting - lighting was added within the past five years. They currently employ 105 people companywide. The Huff Road showroom is 4,000 sq. ft. And part of the wholesale branch. This showroom has just been completely remodeled and reopened its doors in July 2010. MARKETING, SALES AND STAFFING The showroom sells to the trades (65%) and homeowners (35%). There are two full-time sales associates at this location. There is also a full-time outside salesperson who calls on designers, architects and builders. The company also recently hired three outside salespeople who specialize in lighting. The showrooms are treated as separate profit centers so everyone knows what sales, GP and expenses are on a monthly basis. Currently all showrooms produce about 9% of total company revenues. I asked why and how PDI made the decision to get into lighting. (I've been pushing this in my articles for several years.) I was told they had purchased a plumbing wholesaler that also sold lighting. They studied it, liked it and have moved it into all of their showrooms. "It's an easy sell. The GP margin is good and every home (new or old) needs it." Good answers! I was pleasantly surprised to learn that PDI has a full-time marketing coordinator on staff. Adrienne Wilkes does all of the advertising, public relations (with outside help), and event coordination on both the wholesale and showroom sides of the business. This impressed me. It seems to me that most wholesalers are pretty poor marketers. After hearing that the company had a full-time marketing coordinator, I wasn't surprised to learn that there is a well-thought-out marketing plan and that PDI has been willing to spend quite a bit of money in this area in spite of these more difficult economic times. The company advertises their showroom in several home style magazines and local newspapers. These ads are directed toward both the homeowner and the trades. They have created several customized TV commercials and run them on several local TV stations. The company sends out 1,000 direct mail pieces per month, promoting specials, products and events. They also are marketing the showrooms on three rotating billboards located on busy highways and interstates. APPEARANCE COUNTS The building and outside landscaping are very attractive and there's lots of parking for showroom clients. There are a number of eye-catching front window displays. The showroom itself is very nicely built out. PDI used a combination of their own custom-built pods, boards and boxes along with those supplied by their vendors. The showroom interior is light and bright - aided by all of the front windows. It's nicely accessorized, giving it a homey feeling. The reception area is well done. Currently there is not a full-time receptionist, but as business improves this is in the plan. The showroom has 15 vignettes of display products and a working kitchen. PDI does not sell kitchen cabinets or major appliances, but will sell wine coolers, dishwashers and other small appliances. There are a number of working displays. The public restrooms are very nicely built out. One of the restrooms features a mirror with a TV screen and the other features a water closet with a Power Lite flushing system. TRAINING FOR SUCCESS Sales associates are cross-trained to sell both plumbing and lighting. Training for showroom sales associates includes customer service training. The company used the training materials available from the ASA Education Foundation for this purpose. They do weekly product knowledge training and have done plant tours and product "boot camps." Computer training is ongoing.I was pleased to learn that they have recently completed Kohler's basic sales training course. INCREASING VISIBILITY PDI is continually sponsoring a nice array of events. These include a "Re- Grand Opening" of the Huff Road showroom in July 2010.More than 200 guests attended. They also have hosted events for the local Chamber of Commerce, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, National Kitchen and Bath Association, and the Atlanta Home Builders Association. I know how much work it takes to put on these events. But I also know that it's a great way of telling your story. The company is in the process of updating and improving their Web site (as many of you are). I truly believe this must be one of your most important marketing tools. All of the nominees submitted great pictures of the inside and outside of their showrooms, but PDI was the only one to send a 10-minute walk-through video of their facility. (This was not an influencing factor in selecting them as one of the winners, but it sure was fun taking a virtual tour!) IN CLOSING Wow, what a fun project this is! Supply House Times promoted the Showroom of the Year Contest and we had a great time poring through all of the entries trying to select the best of the best. This competition is fun, educational and exciting. Thanks to all of the showrooms that took the time and effort to enter this year's contest. I hope more of you jump on board in 2011. Wouldn't you like to have your showroom featured in this fine industry publication? I was disappointed at the number of nominations sent in for the 2010 Showroom of the Year. The quality was terrific, but the quantity was lacking. Is the nominating process too complicated or time-consuming? Please contact me with any ideas on how we can improve this competition so more showrooms will participate.I know there are many showrooms out there that deserve to be recognized. The great PR that the winners receive should be incentive enough to make the effort to put your nomination in front of the judges.
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