DALLAS – NATM’s 10 regional retailers left their annual meeting here this month a more unified buying group following a reorganization that put more skin in the game for its members.
The new structure, one of the final initiatives of outgoing president and executive director Bill Trawick, shifts more of the group’s buying decisions to its members, and demands greater support of core programs from its five largest dealers.
The intention, explained Trawick and his successor, industry veteran Jerry Satoren, is to present a more singular front to manufacturers and make larger commitments to their merchandise, in exchange for more favorable terms.
“We’ve always looked at NATM as having one voice,” Trawick explained. “You can’t win if we’re 10 voices.”
To that end, three committees made up of the group’s principal dealers have been formed to merchandise the TV, appliance and home office categories, with feedback provided by the five smaller retailers.
In addition, Satoren will be assisted by a four-man executive board that includes elected officers Scott Hymas of R.C. Willey as president; P.C. Richard’s Gregg Richard and Abt Electronics’ Mike Abt as vice presidents; and ABC Warehouse’s Marty Hartunian as treasurer.
NATM will also begin a stepped-up recruitment drive to add new members from unrepresented regions in pursuit of a national footprint, and will relax its requirements of $100 million sales minimum and no territorial overlap with current members.
The efforts follow a $2 billion drop in group volume, to $3 billion, due to the departure of Conn’s in May; year-to-date declines in TV; a challenging year for appliances; and two planned mega-store closures by BrandsMart USA, Trawick said.
Still, NATM boasts a 3 percent national share in white goods, which rises into the teens within its own markets, and has enjoyed a rebound in TV sales over the past three months, particularly in Ultra HD models. “Our 4K business is phenomenal,” Trawick said.
Going forward, Satoren plans to move NATM’s operations from New York to the Dallas suburb of Celina by year’s end, where it will benefit from the central location and time zone, and will retain the services of operations director Michael Maund, a 10-year veteran of the group.
At that point, Trawick will formally hand over the group’s reins and retire after 15 years at NATM and 50 years in the industry, having also served at Long Island, N.Y., buying co-op Intercounty Appliance, P.C. Richard & Son and Conn’s.
In a funny and moving tribute to the departing leader, P.C. Richard principal Gary Richard told a who’s who of industry attendees how he originally recruited his future friend and chief lieutenant for his forklift skills, and how integral he would later become as an operations manager and chief merchant.
Richard said he was “devastated” when Trawick announced his decision to leave for Conn’s, describing it as “the worst weekend of my life.”
He added that Trawick embodies his company’s motto of “honesty, integrity and reliability,” and thanked him for his service to P.C. Richard and NATM with a family cruise.
“We’re glad you’re walking out and we’re not carrying you out,” he quipped.
In an emotional farewell, Trawick thanked Richard and the audience for their friendship and said the renewed commitment from each of NATM’s members under Satoren’s leadership will assure the group’s prosperity going forward.