Cherry Hill, N.J. - National CE and appliance distributor Almo kicked off its annual four-city convention series here this week with its Mid-Atlantic Expo.
The regional road show and training exposition provides the company's dealer, e-tailer, custom installer and system integrator customers with hands-on access to the latest products, free skill and technology trainings, doorbuster show specials, one-on-one meetings and peer networking events.
The Mid-Atlantic leg, held May 22-23 at the Crowne Plaza just outside Philadelphia, drew crowds to the 35-brand exhibition floor and extensive product training sessions. The latter were extended to two days in response to dealer demand, with Frigidaire and Samsung providing appliance programs on Tuesday, and Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp focusing on CE on Wednesday.
Despite special Expo pricing on TVs, major appliances, audio equipment and accessories, president/COO Warren Chaiken said the regional events primarily serve as educational forums, rather than buying shows, and "an opportunity for our customers to talk to manufacturers directly," he told TWICE.
Almo also uses the expos to introduce new services, such as a mobile app for Almo Access, the distributor's customer portal. Newly available on Android, with an Apple version to follow shortly, the app will allow customers to access inventory, check availability, and view webinars, videos and other training materials on the go.
Chaiken described the current marketplace as "choppy," reflecting consumer concern over Europe's finances, the upcoming presidential election, and stubbornly high gasoline prices, which he labeled "a hidden tax."
But dealers that made it this far through the recession are stronger than before, he observed, and have been finding some relief in vendors' recent uniform pricing policies (UPP), which have been sticking thus far.
"The real test will come in the fourth quarter," Chaiken said.
In the meantime, business for Almo remains steady as the distributor adds new brands like LG Appliances, expands distribution for Sharp's cooking and home-comfort lines coast to coast, and continues to serves dealers as a source of mixed-line deliveries and extensive services.
"We want to make sure our dealers thrive and outperform," Chaiken said.
The next Almo Expo will be held July 17-18 in St. Louis, followed by stops in Toledo, Ohio, on July 31-Aug. 1, and Minneapolis on Aug. 8-9.