St Petersburg, FL (December 2, 2019) – The 2020 Executive Planning Conference, hosted by Charlotte-based Distribution America (DA) and Denver-based PRO Group Inc., was held November 19-21 at the historic Vinoy Renaissance Resort. The conference united over 350 of the nation’s top suppliers and distributors that serve the independent home improvement industry with the goal of strengthening relationships and discussing challenges and opportunities for the coming year.

The partnership between DA and PRO Group for this event provided increased efficiency for the vendor community by reducing expenses and travel days. With over 2,300 business meetings over the course of the event, the schedule was intense yet productive, offering manufacturers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with key decision makers in each organization. Topics discussed included new product launches, fill rates, promotions, order turn-around time, and new business opportunities.

Brian McCarthy, Vice President of Sales at RZ Industries commented that, “the conference was extremely productive for us. We had the opportunity to meet with many members and have their full attention as we presented our products. The feedback was excellent, and we are very excited about our future relationships with DA and PRO.”

“The efficiency and productivity of these two days can’t be matched,” added Bruce Fischer, Vice President of Sales at the Werner Company. “It’s a great combination of business and casual time with a great group of business partner friends.”

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 including a scramble golf tournament and a Havana Nights themed reception sponsored by the National Hardware Show.

“Year after year the event draws top level executives from the industry’s most important distributors and suppliers,” said Steve Synnott, President and CEO at PRO Group. “The Renaissance Vinoy property was an amazing venue for group meals and golf, and the highlight of the EPC: the private scheduled appointments to review prior year progress and plan the new years’ objectives.”

Jonathan Mize, CEO & President at Blish-Mize Co., added, “the Executive Planning Conference is a great opportunity for our company to share goals and insights with our vendor partners while simultaneously learning more about their individual businesses, and how we all can help drive additional sales to our independent retail customers. Attending an event like this and having key executives from all companies represented, working and understanding things together, provides a stronger partnership that benefits all parties.”

The conference also featured a popular feature item display area. Distributor attendees selected the best new products and awards were presented to the manufacturers in the major hardline categories. The Overall Best New Product was awarded to Nix Color Sensor for their Portable Color Scanning Device with App.

With numerous opportunities to explore new product, meet face-to-face with vendor partners and enjoy networking events such as golf and receptions, many member distributors have already registered for next year’s Executive Planning Conference.

“This meeting is one that I put first on my calendar each and every year,” said Alex Hodge, President at Horizon Distribution, Inc. “There’s no better place to plan together with our key vendors, face-to-face, in a relaxing and productive atmosphere”

Dave Christmas, President and CEO of Distribution America, added, “the conference presents opportunities to strengthen relationships between our distributor members and the vendors that support independent hardware
stores, home centers, and paint sundry retailers. Each meeting provides manufacturers the opportunity to meetwith the key decision makers from most of the nation’s largest independent distributors.”

Early registration has begun for next year’s conference November 17-19, 2020 at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

The following are all the winners of the featured product area and the vendor and key suppliers of the year for
both DA and PRO Group.


Featured Product Awards:

  • Hand & Power Tools – Stanley Black and Decker – DeWalt 20V Max Pole Saw
  • Hardware – Fusion Grip Straps – Heavy Duty Magnetic Hook Ratchet Straps
  • Plumbing – ECO-FLO Products – 1/3 HP WiFi Enabled Sump Pump
  • Electrical – Eaton Wiring Devices – Direct Mount 5 CCT-Select Light
  • Lawn & Garden – Boss Manufacturing Company – Neoprene Black Knee Boot with Steel Shank
  • Safety – Kidde Safety – DC Combo Smoke/CO Alarm
  • Overall Winner – Nix Sensor Ltd. – Portable Color Scanning Device with App

Distribution America Vendors of the Year:

  • Electrical: Satco Products
  • Paint and Paint Sundries: PPG Architectural Finishes
  • Hardware: Midwest Fastener
  • Hand and Power Tools: Stanley Black & Decker
  • Plumbing: Fluidmaster Inc.
  • Lawn and Garden: The Ames Companies
  • 2019 Overall Vendor Partnership Award: Apex Tool Group

PRO Group, Inc. Key Suppliers of the Year:

  • Tools: Apex Tool Group
  • Plumbing: Oatey SCS
  • Hardware: Master Lock Company
  • Paint Sundries: Warp Brothers
  • Electrical: Southwire
  • Lawn and Garden: Boss Manufacturing Co.
  • Key Supplier of the Year: DAP Products


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. With over 70 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 VALTEST Group.



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