Denver (June 30, 2021) – As the nation and hardlines industry continues to grapple with the lingering effects of the pandemic, PRO Group, Inc. held the second virtual Group Merchandising Conference (GMC) using the Zoom breakout rooms feature on June 21-24. With over 1,300 scheduled one-on-one appointments, attendees enjoyed one of the most interactive virtual formats in the industry and were able to discuss product lines, conference specials and learn more about new program offerings.

“The 2021 GMC facilitated outstanding interaction with member manufacturers and distributor buyers,” said Steve Synnott, President and CEO at PRO Group. “The virtual, private meetings via the Zoom platform were an outstanding way to position all attendees for continued success in the remainder of 2021.”

GMC attendees were also treated to a New Vendor Preview on June 3 which allowed new vendor partners to introduce themselves, their company and the product they planned to showcase during their meetings. Distributor buyers were able to request product samples and request meetings with presenting vendors during the GMC. With over 35 new vendor programs, the New Vendor Preview was a valuable resource for Distributor buyers looking to maximize their time during the scheduled meetings.

“We knew there were many distributors out there but finding them was always so challenging. PRO Group not only found them for us but provided a way for us to get their undivided attention for a full 25 minutes. It’s more than we could have asked for,” said Rudy Anderson, General Manager at Skidger, LLC.

In addition, Dan Tratensek with the North American Hardware & Paint Association provided key insights into the impact of the pandemic on consumers during the General Session on June 21. During his presentation, Tratensek covered how the pandemic changed consumer behavior and ten lessons retailers can learn from those changes. These lessons provide a roadmap on how, with some continued flexibility, retailers, manufacturers and distributors can thrive in a new retail environment moving forward.

After the General Session, meetings kicked off on the morning of June 22. With the opportunity to present digitally, manufacturers were able to share videos, presentations, images and other information during their private appointments. This format allowed all attendees to forge business connections over the course of 3 days from the comfort of their home or office.

“My meetings were fast, informative and focused on my interests,” said Tara Fritz, Territory Sales Representative at Faithway Alliance. “With a minimum time investment, I was able to explore multiple opportunities, some of which will yield valuable and profitable partnerships for the future.”

As the industry inches toward a return to in-person events, the virtual format of the GMC continues to facilitate invaluable one-on-one interactions during a time when abundant travel may not be feasible. It is these interactions that will continue to allow Distributor and Vendor partners to expand their business in a challenging economic environment.




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 VAL-TEST Group.