The newly announced leadership and direction of Luxury Products Group was front and center at the 2018 LPG Conference.
Changes in the group dynamics fueled a distinct energy throughout the event, held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, California. Approximately 120 members were on hand, representing more than 250 luxury bath, kitchen and lighting showrooms, and they were joined by 85 vendors and service providers.
New LPG Director Jeff MacDowell used the opportunity to lay out short- and long-term opportunities to bring value to the group and help member showrooms compete in the evolving digitized sales environment.
MacDowell hit the ground running when he took the reins in November, rolling out an ambitious 90-day plan that included a new logo and website.
Gary Cedrone of Republic Supply Co. and a member of the LPG Executive Committee praised those efforts: “To be frank, he’s impressing the hell out of us. He has incredible energy, and when you mix that with the depth of his showroom knowledge, it’s bringing the group to a whole new level.”
Executive Committee member Don Smith of Central Arizona Supply agreed: “Jeff brought a lot of ideas and was ready to go on Day 1. He’s accomplished so much in a very short amount of time, and many of the new initiatives have already started gaining traction.”
MacDowell worked closely on conference preparations and planning new service and benefit programs with the LPG staff, John Aykroyd, president of Omni (LPG’s parent group) as well as the Executive Committee.
“It took a Herculean effort to accomplish it all, and I’m so appreciative of everyone’s efforts,” MacDowell said. “Branding and refreshing our website were high on the 90-day plan, because they looked dated and we need something tangible that positions LPG as a group focused on the future. We’ve promoted our rebranding very heavily on social media, and announced several new vendors. That’s given everyone confidence that big things are happening at LPG.”
The new branding has been a hit, according to Smith: “Our new logo communicates that LPG is moving in an up-to-date, forward-thinking direction. The website is not quite completed, but also shows that LPG is enterprising and engaged in our market as well as in this new age of digital communications and sales.”
Having the new logo and several other early initiatives completed gave MacDowell credibility as he prepared to meet many members and vendors for the first time in Palm Desert.
“Naturally there was anxiety because of the change in leadership,” Cedrone said. “But we asked members to be patient, watch as the 90-day plan is rolled out, and see the vision for the long-term. We knew they’d be much more comfortable once they had a chance to engage Jeff in conversations during the conference.”
MacDowell’s transparent communications style gave members confidence in the “new” LPG and the valuable resources that will better position their businesses. “I wanted to make it clear that the LPG of the future is much more than a buying group,” described MacDowell.
“With so much at stake, Luxury Products Group is dedicated to ensuring members’ viability in this highly competitive environment,” MacDowell said. “My goal was that members leave the conference confident that the future of LPG solid –and that we are positioned as the best group in the industry.”
Among the initiatives MacDowell emphasized were:
One of the biggest topics of the conference was the positive impact of new product categories.
“Our members recognize the profitability of lighting,” MacDowell explained. “And they’re well-positioned to capture those additional product sales because they’re connecting with customers at the earliest stages of their projects. Customers will appreciate the convenience and reliability of having just one trusted go-to source for all of these products. It’s a win-win.”
LPG has had approved lighting vendors for a number of years, and going forward there are other categories to consider as well, like hardware, appliances and tile. Cedrone emphasized the importance of a diversified portfolio, adding “Showrooms should be telling clients that we can outfit every phase of their homes, provide the ultimate in service and offer competitive pricing on high-end products. If not, showrooms might as well put a lock on the door.”