Tucson, AZ (November 19, 2018) – “Bringing the best together from Manufacturing and Distribution!” That’s how Jim Hegner, Corporate Accounts Manger from Midwest Fastener, described this year’s event which was staged at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort.

More than 350 distributors and manufacturers attended the annual Executive Planning Conference (EPC) and participated in more than 2,600 one-on-one sessions. During those sessions, distributors and manufacturers discussed topics ranging from new product and program launches, prior year fill-rates, order turn-around time, promotional effectiveness and new business opportunities.

According to Steve Draeger, President and CEO at United Hardware, “The EPC conference is a great opportunity to share insight with our vendor partners into each other’s business and to leverage that insight into plans that will ultimately drive additional sales through our retailers. The environment is truly conducive to developing quality partnerships that benefit all parties.”

Robert Fischer from World and Main stated that, “The Executive Planning Conference is the most important conference for distributors and vendors as we are able to meet with the executive decision makers and thus able to draw up a quick plan for business growth for the coming year.” In addition to the one-on-one sessions, the unique networking events offered an opportunity for distributor and vendor partners to discuss the coming year’s business in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Steve Synnott, President and CEO of PRO Group Inc. cited, “The EPC’s timing is well-aligned with manufacturer and distributor executives who want to finalize 2018 actions and lay the groundwork for 2019 initiatives. Attendees truly value the event, the executive interaction it facilitates and the opportunities to socialize with peers in a resort setting.”

“The EPC meeting gave our company a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with the people driving change at some of our largest vendor partners,” said Alex Hodge, Director of Sales at Horizon Distribution. “In addition, the great show buys and networking among peers in the industry made this meeting well worth the investment of time and money.”

Dave Christmas, President and CEO at Distribution America, added, “The conference provides an opportunity to expand relationships between our distributor members and the vendors that support our group and industry. Each prescheduled meeting provides manufacturers the opportunity to meet with the principles from most of the nation’s largest independent distributors to discuss future opportunities and promotions, present new products, and review strategic objectives for the coming year. The conference also provides a perfect venue to recognize those vendors who are truly the best of the best within their product category with our Vendor of the Year awards.”

The 3-day event also featured a scramble golf tournament and a Thursday night football themed reception sponsored by the National Hardware Show. The popular feature item display area also returned this year. Distributor attendees selected the best new products and presented awards to the manufacturers in the major hardline categories. The New Product Winners included an overall award to RZ Mask for the Air Filtration Dust and Pollution Mask.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Distribution America and Denver-based PRO Group, Inc. conduct the conference jointly, providing networking opportunities within the industry, reducing costs and increasing value to attendees.


Best New Product Awards:

  • Hand & Power Tools – Stanley Black & Decker 20V Max Inflator
  • Hardware – Screw-It-Again Wood Anchor
  • Paint Sundries – Rustoleum High Output Spray Paint
  • Plumbing – Magna Industries Quick-Fix Copper Pipe Repair
  • Electrical – Leviton Manufacturing USB Combination Outlet
  • Lawn & Garden/Pet – Swan Products Element Viper Hose
  • Specialty – Camco Manufacturing Wine Tumbler Set
  • Overall Winner – RZ Mask Air Filtration Dust and Pollution Mask


Distribution America Vendors of the Year:

  • Electrical: Gardner Bender
  • Paint and Paint Sundries: Linzer
  • Hardware: Midwest Fastener
  • Hand and Power Tools: Century Drill
  • Plumbing: Genova Products, Inc.
  • Lawn and Garden: Woodstream
  • 2018 Overall Vendor Partnership Award: Stanley Black & Decker


PRO Group, Inc. Key Suppliers of the Year:

  • Tools: Stanley Black & Decker
  • Plumbing: Oatey SCS
  • Hardware: Master Lock Company
  • Paint Sundries: DAP Products Inc.
  • Electrical: World & Main
  • Lawn and Garden: Swan Products, LLC
  • Key Supplier of the Year: Chapin International



The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Distribution America (www.daonline.com) is a multi-billion dollar buying and marketing organization, covering 50 states and international markets assisting retailers and distributors with merchandising and marketing programs including Priced Right Everyday®, Sentry, Trustworthy Hardware and Golden Rule.

PRO Group, Inc. (www.pro-group.com) is a multidivisional international merchandising and marketing organization with corporate headquarters in Denver. Its operating units include PRO Hardware, GardenMaster, FARM MART and GOLDEN-LINK. With over 79 distributors operating over 140 distribution centers serving all 50 states, the Group’s combined sales volume exceeds $6 billion through its member distributors and an alliance with the VAL-TEST Group.



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