Marco Island, FL (November 19, 2015) The 2016 Executive Planning Conference, hosted by Charlotte-based Distribution America and Denver-based PRO Group was held November 17-19 at the Marco Island Marriott Resort & Spa. The 3-day conference brought together over 400 of the nation’s top suppliers and distributors that serve the independent home improvement industry, to strengthen relationships and discuss challenges and opportunities for the coming year.

According to Dave Christmas, president and CEO of Distribution America, “This meeting continues to be the premiere event in the industry. It is the only time when the nation’s largest independent regional distributors can get together with the leading suppliers of product sold to hardware retailers, lumber yards, home centers and independent paint stores. Thousands of face-to-face meetings are held in conjunction with social gatherings as we make plans for continued success in the months and years ahead.”

Steve Synnott, president and CEO of PRO Group added ”The EPC delivers social networking events paired with focused business meetings that provide all attendees with results that are the foundation for the coming year’s action plan.”

Jeff Kovarsky, president of PRO Distributor B.E. Atlas Company headquartered in Chicago offered, “The EPC is always helpful in allowing me to visit with higher level people than I would normally see in my office. It is a great opportunity to see products that I have not been exposed to and catch up on business trends facing our industry.”

Jonathan Mize, CEO & President of Blish-Mize Co., based in Atchison, KS, and acting Chairman of Distribution America added, “The Executive Planning Conference allows all of our members/owners the opportunity to meet with key vendors to help both sides plan 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 vendors who continue to see the value, and appreciates two-step distribution.”

The partnership between DA and PRO for this event provides increased efficiency for the vendor community by reducing expenses and travel days. With a total of 2,677 business meetings over the course of the event, the schedule is rigorous yet productive, offering manufacturers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with key decision makers in each organization. Topics discussed include new product launches, fill rates, promotions, order turn-around time, and new business opportunities.

Craig Fritz, sales manager of H.D. Hudson Manufacturing Co. in Chicago, states “This conference offers us a precious commodity, time. Saving time by seeing the decision makers at one event. The more prepared you are, the greatest return on your time is realized.”

Networking opportunities in more relaxed settings were enjoyed by attendees as well. White sand beaches and gentle gulf breezes provided the back drop to the “Back to the Future” themed reception sponsored by the National Hardware Show. The North American Retail Hardware Association sponsored the beverage cart and hole-in-one competition during the event’s golf tournament.

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.

The Overall Best New Product was awarded to Werner Ladder Company for their 3 Ft. Fiberglass Podium Ladder.

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

Best New Product Awards:
• Electrical: Feit Electric Company – 30′ 10-Socket, Outdoor String Light Set
• Tools: Apex Tool Group – Crescent 11pc. Pass Thru Adjustable Wrench Set
• Housewares and Seasonal: HBC Home & Hardware – Combo Propane Heater/Stove
• Hardware: Hy-Ko Products Company – LED Message Board
• Lawn & Garden and Pet: The Ames Companies – Dual Tine Leaf Rake
• Paint & Paint Sundries: DAP Products Inc. – Kwik Seal Ultra Premium Kitchen and Bath Sealant
• Plumbing: Reliance Wordwide/Shark Bite/Cash Acme – SharkBite Ice Maker Installation Kit
• Overall Winner: Werner Ladder Company – 3 Ft. Fiberglass Podium Ladder

Distribution America Vendors of the Year:
• Hampton Products (Specialty Products)
• Apex Tool Group (Tools)
• Midwest Fastener Corp. (Hardware)
• WM Barr& Company (Paint and Paint Sundries)
• Genova Products Inc. (Plumbing)
• Leviton Manufacturing Co. (Electrical)
• Boss Manufacturing Co. (Lawn & Garden)
• Apex Tool Group (Soaring Eagle Vendor Partnership Award)

PRO Group Key Suppliers of the Year:
• APEX Tool Group (Hand & Power)
• Southwire / Coleman Cable (Electrical)
• DAP Products Inc. (Paint Sundries)
• Ames True Temper (Seasonal)
• Genova Products, Inc. (Plumbing)
• Master Lock Company (Hardware)
• W.M. Barr & Company (Key Supplier of the Year)

Next year’s conference is scheduled for November 14-16, 2016 in Tucson AZ.


The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Distribution America ( 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. ( 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. The company’s purchasing power exceeds $3 billion through its member distributors.

For More Information Contact:
Jody Maude, Distribution America
(704) 940-4806

Shari Kalbach, PRO Group, Inc.
(720) 875-2226

Note to media: Digital photographs available upon request. Contact:
Heather Carroll, PRO Group, Inc.
(720) 875-2246