Denver (June 29, 2020) – In response to the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, PRO Group, Inc. hosted the first ever virtual Group Merchandising Conference using the Zoom platform. On June 22-24, 40 PRO Group member distributors and 63 vendor attendees participated in 1,140 scheduled, one-on-one appointments through the breakout rooms function available on the Zoom platform. Through these individual appointments, attendees were able to discuss new products, conference specials, and program details and future needs as they would have done meeting in person in Atlanta.
“It is amazing that PRO was positioned to facilitate and complete Zoom training for about 200 individuals in the past 60 days or so to execute timely and effective individual one-on-one meetings between distributor buyers and manufacture sellers,” said Steve Synnott, President and CEO at PRO Group. “I am certain the Virtual GMC will pay big dividends over the balance of 2020 to PRO Group member distributors and manufacturers.”
In addition to the one-on-one appointments, all attendees had to opportunity to explore the products offered by new vendor partners and attend a general session with The Farnsworth Group in the two weeks leading up to their scheduled appointments. The new product preview was also hosted using the Zoom platform and allowed new vendors to introduce themselves and give a brief presentation of the products they would be showcasing at the GMC. Distributor attendees were able to request product samples from the manufacturers so they could view products up close during their individual meetings.
“In a year of cancelled events and uncertainty, this event allowed us to find new ideas, items and vendors which was invaluable for planning our upcoming show,” said Mike Dawson, Retail Division Manager at Horizon Distribution. “Congratulations to the PRO team for breaking paradigms to provide real value to both distributors and manufacturers in a challenging year.”
The general session was hosted by Grant Farnsworth, Director of Business Strategy with The Farnsworth Group, who has been surveying professionals and DIYers in the hardware industry to determine the effects COVID-19 has had on home improvement project behaviors. During the session, Grant spoke on the results of those surveys, the impact of projects started or stopped during the pandemic and the role of online vs. in-store purchases. He also touched on DIY and contractor concerns about the future and actions manufacturers and suppliers need to think about taking now. Those results impacted how all attendees approached their one-on-one meetings during the conference.
“I was very impressed with how well PRO turned a bad situation into a very positive experience for both vendors and distributors,” said John Campbell, National Account Executive with Forney Industries. “The efficiency of the Zoom meetings is a testament to how well PRO prepared for this unique situation. I think the conference was a big success!”
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 73 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.