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Nationwide’s Hickman: “You’ve Got To Be Customer Obsessed”

Nationwide Marketing Group saddles up in Dallas for 60th in-person PrimeTime

(image credit: NMG)

1,177 Nationwide Marketing Group member companies gathered in Dallas, TX March 25-28, 2023 to experience the buying group’s 60th in-person PrimeTime, learn and network with their peers and, as always, give back. Independent retailers overall have seen a successful couple of years with the increase in demand for home furnishings, appliances and electronics during the pandemic, but Nationwide gave continuous reminders and encouragement to its members during the conference to push forward and be “Consumer Obsessed” to be successful in the days ahead.

“It feels to me a lot like 2018-2019 again,” said Nationwide President and Chief Member Advocate Tom Hickman during his opening address at the 2023 PrimeTime General Session Kickoff in Dallas, TX. “We’re doing things very similar to the way we were doing it then. We were battling for customers, battling for eyeballs, making sure we were trying to close every sale. We had hyper-vendor activity, and hyper-competitive activity from Big Box.

“We can no longer compete just on having availability…just simply having product is not going to get us by. We have to go back to what we did before, competing for eyeballs, competing for customers, and competing candidly for every sale.”

Nationwide President and Chief Member Advocate Tom Hickman during his opening address at the 2023 PrimeTime General Session (image credit: NMG)

Hickman continued, “So how do you compete? Especially with Big Box? I mean, do you offer different products? Sure. Is that your key differentiator? No. Are you engaging in a price war with Big Box? I certainly hope not. Successful companies do it in a very different way. The way you compete is by differentiating yourself with the one thing that matters most to the customer, and that’s the experience. And to do that, you’ve got to be customer obsessed.”

A major surprise and announcement during the show was Nationwide Marketing Group’s announcement of the rebranding of its Home Technology Specialists Nationwide (HTSN) custom integration division, which will now be known as Oasys Residential Technology Group, as part of its ongoing evolution of custom integration strategy. The new name coupled with the buying group’s new strategy will see the group expand its reach to a wider portion of the custom integration industry.

“We believe there’s an opportunity to take what we’ve built and provide an even greater service to those businesses just starting out or those who have struggled to get their feet under them,” said Andy Orozco, senior vice president of custom integration for Nationwide. “It’s a segment of the industry, frankly, that has been ignored and underserved for too long.”

Gaylord Texan Resort, Dallas, TX (image credit: Marriott)

PrimeTime returned to the Gaylord Texan for the first time since 2015, and since Nationwide last visited the Marriott-owned property, the Gaylord Texan has expanded both its hotel and convention areas to offer more than nearly 500,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space.

“In addition to the sprawling expo floor that our dealers have come to expect and the unmatched educational offerings, the expanded meeting and convention space will also allow us to bring the PrimeTime Backyard to Texas,” said Melissa Stenson, vice president of member experience for Nationwide.

Other pillars of PrimeTime present at the show included the Oasys Tiny Home, a mobile tiny show home filled with smart devices and other integration goodies that demonstrate to independent retailers how easy and convenient it is to add smart home luxury to any home, the PrimeTime Expo, Palooza, a 90-minute buying frenzy where dealers are able to secure some of the best deals of the year at hard-to-beat pricing, and hours of valuable education and training, insightful panels and industry updates that provide opportunities for independent retailer members to work on their business, not just in it.

Nationwide’s next PrimeTime event will be held August 13-16, 2023 at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

See also: Nationwide Rebrands HTSN As Oasys Residential Technology Group