When Appliance Dealers Cooperative (ADC) decided to stage its own buy fair, it didn’t let a little thing like a lack of trade show experience stand in its way.
But that’s the way the nearly $500 million buying group rolls, at least since executive director Ken Miele joined eight years ago. Together with ADC president Mike Napoletano, the pair has charted new waters in their quest to keep their 192 independent appliance dealers alive and well and ahead of the competitive curve.
Beyond its core merchandising, warehousing and delivery competencies, ADC has since become a developer of low-cost custom websites, an authority on digital marketing, and a provider of everything from retail pricing solutions to best practices in human resources.
Add to the list trade show managers.
“We started as a buying group, became a marketing group and are now a business services group,” Miele told TWICE at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., site of its first, just-ended convention. “ADC has to handle change so our members can run their businesses.”
But why a buy fair? While the group participates in the annual September Expo of its umbrella organization, the $1.5 billion NECO Alliance for Northeastern independents, the Connecticut event is a long haul for many of ADC’s members, who travel from as far as Ohio and Delaware, Napolitano said. So he and Miele decided to stage a show of their own.
The result was a three-day gathering under the apt theme of “Adapt To Change.” The debut event drew more than 500 attendees; top-flight exhibitors including Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, GE, LG, Sharp, Viking, Wells Fargo and Whirlpool; guest speaker Sam Abdelnour, the renown and recently retired Whirlpool sales VP; and a slew of Sunday seminars covering pricing, succession planning, Google advertising and analytics, and more.
Both dealers and exhibitors lauded the intimate setting, which, absent competitive chapters, allowed for plenty of no-wait facetime and the undivided attention of vendors.
“It exceeded our expectations,” concluded Miele, who’s already planning next year’s event.