Tucson, AZ (November 18, 2016) – Industry leaders gathered in Tucson on November 14-16 for the 2017 Executive Planning Conference. The annual event is hosted jointly by Distribution America and PRO Group, Inc. and brings together independent distributors and their suppliers for extensive business planning and social activities. The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa nestled in the foothills of the Sonoran Desert set the stage for this year’s event.


Barbara Worden, National Sales Manager for Lansky Sharpeners, acknowledged the value this conference has for attendees. “What a choice opportunity to showcase new products and deliver key points about our product line to businesses that ultimately shape the hardware retail environment.”


Steve Synnott, President and CEO of Denver-based PRO Group, added, “The EPC’s mix of social interaction and face-to-face executive meetings is impactful to all of the attending distributors and manufacturers.  From the golf course to tabletop conferences with memorable meals and a prayer breakfast, the event consistently fosters stronger rapport that can be a key foundation to future business growth.”

Jonathan Mize, CEO and President of Blish-Mize Co., based in Atchison, KS, and acting Chairman of Distribution America, referenced the benefits these meetings continue to hold in the ever changing marketplace. “With continued consolidations taking place throughout our industry, The Executive Planning Conference allows our member/owners the opportunity to meet with key vendor partners to plan for growth for the upcoming year. Our merchandising and sales management teams get to meet one-on-one and develop relationships with management from all these important companies who appreciate two-step distribution, and continue to see the value and benefits that Distribution America provides.”

According to Tom Nunes, Purchasing Manager for Horizon Distribution, Inc. in Yakama, WA, “the DA/ PRO EPC is one of the best events we attend each year. We have the opportunity to meet with the decision makers from our key existing vendors and potential new vendors at a great location.  In addition to meeting with key vendors, we get to discuss current business, common issues, and future opportunities with our fellow PRO Distributors. This is one of the most valuable benefits to being in the PRO Group.”

Dave Christmas, President and CEO of Charlotte, NC based Distribution America reiterated the benefits and opportunities this format brings to all attendees.  “The Executive Planning Conference provides an opportunity to expand our relationships with our distributor members and the vendors that support our group and industry. Each 20-minute, pre-scheduled meeting provides manufacturers the opportunity to meet with the principles from the nation’s largest group of independent distributors, to discuss future opportunities and promotions, present new products, and review strategic objectives for the coming year.”


The 3-day event included over 2,000 face-to-face meetings, a scramble golf tournament and a reception themed “What’s in Store for You?” sponsored by the National Hardware Show with raffle drawings and give-a-ways. The conference also featured a popular feature item display area. Distributor attendees selected the best new products and presented awards to the manufacturers in the major hardline categories.


Next year’s event will be held in Marco Island, FL on November 14-16, 2017.

Distribution America and PRO Group, Inc. presented the following awards during this year’s Executive Planning Conference:
Best New Product Awards:

  • Hand & Power Tools – CLC Custom Leathercraft – DeWALT Pocket Lighted USB Charging Tool Backpack
  • Hardware – Master Lock Co. – Bluetooth Padlock
  • Paint Sundries – DAP DynaGrip Heavy Duty Max Construction Adhesive
  • Plumbing – Delta Faucet – Elongated Night Light Toilet Seat
  • Electrical – Promier Products – Wireless Light Switch
  • Lawn & Garden/Pet – The Ames Companies – Multi-Purpose Garden Rake
  • Housewares/Seasonal – World & Main (HBC) 8-In. Utility Blower
  • Automotive- Cequent Consumer Products – REESE Ball Mount Boot Brush
  • Overall Winner: Swan Products, LLC – Hose Swiver


Distribution America Vendors of the Year

  • Specialty Products – Gardner Gibson
  • Tools- Apex Tool Group
  • Hardware- Midwest Fastener Corp.
  • Paint and Paint Sundries – Rustoleum Brands
  • Plumbing- Genova Products Inc.
  • Electrical- Leviton Manufacturing Co.
  • Lawn & Garden- Boss Manufacturing Co.
  • Soaring Eagle Vendor Partnership Award- Rustoleum Brands


PRO Group, Inc. Key Suppliers of the Year:

  • Plumbing – Genova Products, Inc.
  • Electrical – Southwire
  • Hardware – Master Lock Company
  • Seasonal – Seymour Midwest
  • Tools – Custom LeatherCraft Mfg. Co.
  • Paint Sundries – Rust-Oleum
  • Overall – 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, Reliable Distributors, GardenMaster, FARM MART and GOLDEN-LINK. With over 100 distributors operating over 200 distribution centers serving all 50 states, the Group’s combined sales volume exceeds $5 billion through its member distributors.