A total of 432 industry professionals attended the Equity Plumbing Annual Meeting, Dec. 5-7 in New Orleans, setting an all-time high turnout.
“We held our first meeting just five years ago with total attendance at just over 200 individuals,” said Ted Havel, Equity’s vice president of marketing and supplier relations.
The attendance figures break down into professionals from 129 member companies and 100 supplier partners and member services providers.
The meeting’s main presentations opened with Jason Bader, principal of the Distribution Team and The Wholesaler columnist, on how to focus less on sales and more on gross-profit, and ended with Curt Steinhorst, a communications consultant, who discussed communications in the age of constant feeds from Twitter, Facebook and the always-on internet.
In between, members heard about the latest Equity Plumbing programs, held networking meetings and had the opportunity to meet for scheduled one-on-one meetings with supplier members or stop by tabletop booths.
The group added seven new members this year to boost its total membership to 417 businesses. In addition, Equity member companies added four new locations bringing that total up to 558. In addition, the group developed relationships with six new supplier partners.
Members currently represent collective buying power of nearly $2 billion annually, on track to grow 8 percent over 2016.
“Many of our supplier partners report that Equity sales are tracking above their overall industry growth rates,” Havel added.
Market segments serviced by Equity members are comprised of the following:
Havel added that full details of the group’s formal 2018 member and supplier outlook would be available this month. But based on members attending the New Orleans event, Havel told us that 2018 looks to be a year of sales growth between 3 percent and 5 percent.
Here are some highlights of the event:
Decorative Plumbing: With Equity members running more than 100 plumbing showrooms, the group recently expanded into the decorative plumbing hardware market.
“Our objective is to better service the needs and aspirations of our showroom locations by fostering partnerships with industry-leading suppliers of decorative plumbing hardware,” Havel said.
To that end, the buying group was accepted into the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association.
“DPHA offers many programs and extensive training resources all designed to help improve business and provide competitive advantages for plumbing showrooms,” Havel added.
Supplier Services: Equity Plumbing unveiled a suite of benchmarking analytics, including the following benefits:
In addition, Equity provided an overview of two current marketing programs and resources:
Equity to the Maxx: This web-based metrics tool evaluates membership purchases from non-Equity suppliers.
“With this information we can determine market share for Equity suppliers, guide Equity suppliers on new business opportunities by converting purchases from non-approved suppliers and provide members with an increased earnings estimate based on converting purchase volume to Equity suppliers,” Havel explained.
GainShare: The program is designed to enhance the level of engagement among Equity members and suppliers. Members develop joint marketing plans with suppliers to set attainable purchasing goals.
“Members are encouraged to use the GainShare program as an opportunity to shift purchases from non-Equity suppliers to Equity suppliers,” Havel said.
Each completed and approved GainShare plan results in an annual member purchase goal that can be tracked by both parties through the GainShare status report located on Equity’s website.
“When the goal is achieved, the member earns additional rebate dollars and the supplier achieves or exceeds their sales goal with that particular member,” Havel said. “Our objective is to provide our supplier partners with above-average market growth.”
Equity Plumbing also honored the following companies at the show:
Member Performance Awards are based on a number of factors, including increasing total amount of dollars purchased from Equity suppliers and converting business from non-approved suppliers to approved Equity suppliers.
This year the following members received awards:
For the Supplier Awards, members nominate the best-performing suppliers in the following categories:
Havel told us that networking opportunities are consistently the most highly rated aspect of the meeting. Member wholesalers of similar size and business mix meet in a private setting to discuss industry topics, share best practices and exchange ideas.
“Peer networking has proven to be an indispensable resource for the majority of the members,” Havel added.
Members also have the opportunity to network and build relationships with Equity supplier executives.
“Pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings provide members and suppliers with a format to meet in person to discuss open issues, enhance relationships or forge new business opportunities,” Havel said.
Equity Plumbing will hold its next annual meeting Oct. 29-31 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill.