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  • Mark Lipton

Make Up Your Mind Already!

Even at nearly 22-years old, when I take my daughter Miranda to the diner, I have to tell her, “order breakfast!”. If I let her order from the entire menu, we would be there all day.


Miranda’s inability to make a quick decision is legendary in our house. It has been the impetus for some of our greatest laughs and cries. I can't remember the number of times the waitress at the diner came by for the 5th time to take our order only to hear "Give us a minute please!" Make up your mind already!


That’s why I was so surprised to get this text (see pic below) from her the other day!


Tuesday was her first day of class, so I texted her asking how it went. She replied that she’s dropping Spanish because the teacher says “aha” too often.


ON DAY ONE!


That didn’t take long, so I guess she’s cured of her indecision! Next time we are at the diner she won’t get 20 minutes from me to decide what to eat!


Last Thursday, I spent the day at the Orgill show at the McCormick center in Chicago. It’s one of two shows each year when Orgill plays peacock and shows the world its feathers!

I’ve been to countless trade shows in my career and this one is among the best -- at least from a dealer’s perspective.


The two annual Orgill shows are both buying shows. That one detail alone changes the vibe considerably from other large shows like the National Hardware Show. At buying shows, I've found that vendors are more willing to engage; dealers walking around with blank purchase orders will always grab the attention of vendors. I guess you never know who’s going to order the next pallet, so your best bet is reaching out to everyone who walks by.

Vendors who isolate themselves in their booths has been a long-time pet peeve of mine. While I certainly saw some of that at the Orgill show, I found most vendors to be engaging and well-prepared to make their pitch.

For about 30 minutes, I was able to walk the show floor with Orgill President Boyden Moore. It is a different perspective to walk a show with a chief executive and so for starters: Thank you Boyden! Not only for the invitation but also for the time and hospitality of you and your staff.


The Orgill president accompanied me through the rows of vendors, but the vendors were not the subject of conversation.


Our entire conversation beyond the pleasantries was focused on the work Orgill does to support dealers.


"We are all about our dealers!" I hear that a lot from industry executives, mostly with good intentions. But there’s a difference between those who say we love our dealers and those who SHOW IT. Orgill shows it.


Nothing spotlights their commitment to dealers more than the dealer Learning Center.

Independent retailers have unique problems. Among them are our population size; we often find ourselves reinventing the wheel or standing alone at times of great significance. A single-store dealer opening a new location is likely doing it for the first time! Same goes for major store renovations and a number of other large-scale undertakings that dealers don’t do often throughout the course of their careers.


Orgill takes on the responsibility of helping dealers during these challenging times. In the Learning Center, dealers can sit down with experts in specialty disciplines including new stores, store decor, retail pricing and e-commerce to get their input. At a time when you’re considering some of the largest decisions of your career, it seems that Orgill wants to help.


I was impressed.


Despite the presidential tour, I spent most of the day alone. If you’re not “shopping,” it’s possible to walk a whole show like this in one day, so I did! I left with another significant take-away!


Independent hardware retailers have expanded their offerings well beyond traditional hardware and clearly to their benefit. Of course, the largest booths were owned by the names we all know: PPG and SW for the paints, and Makita, 3M, Black & Decker, Delta Faucets and countless others. These were more traditional hardware offerings. But I was shocked by the number of large vendors that were more “off the beaten path!”


I expected to see some food vendors. My local hardware store (not an Orgill store) has lots of candy and gum to buy on the way out. But Orgill had an entire section of the show floor for food, snacks and drinks vendors. Jerky of every variety (a personal fave), candy and other snacks, nut vendors, soda vendors, even Gatorade had a booth!


It didn’t stop there. There was lots of action at a booth selling a job-site and unbreakable pod-style coffee maker. Like at the airport: the biggest lines are always at the caffeine dispensaries! There was a multi-thousand dollar freeze dried food maker, a vendor selling night-vision thermal imaging binoculars and scopes, and countless others specialties that I would not have otherwise associated with a hardware store. And all these booths were busy!


The variety of products offered was impressive AND It all left me wondering: why am I selling just paint and brushes?


It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the know that Orgill does such a great job. Family owned for 172 years, Orgill is the largest AND the fastest growing independent hardlines distributor in the world with over 6000 customers in the United States, Canada and 50 other countries around the planet!


The list of what to see at the Orgill show had more items on it than the menu at a New York diner. Thankfully I didn’t bring my daughter, or we’d still be standing at the front door contemplating where to start!




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©2019 by Mark Lipton

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