Orgill Market draws a crowd

Orlando, FLa. -- There were several noteworthy features of Orgill's 2011 Spring Dealer Market. The aisles were full and suppliers approached by Home Channel News were generally pleased with booth traffic. 

Behind the scenes, Orgill CEO Ron Beal said the Memphis-based distributor was working to improve on a record 2010.

"It's hard to hit home runs, but if we can be 1% or 2% or 5% or 10% better, the cumulative impact of that is very significant," Beal said.

In 2010, all of Orgills's retail segments -- hardware, home centers, pro dealers and farm and ranch -- showed sales growth over 2009. The 2010 growth was also evenly dispersed geographically, he said.  Dealers continue to face difficult economic conditions, and Beal cautioned against connecting strong show attendance with a turnaround in the economy.

Pre-registration for Orgill's 2011 Spring Dealer Market here in Orlando was at a record level. Pre-registration was up 20% over Orgill's all-time attendance record set in 2007.

Ron Beal said discussions with attendees showed a very positive feeling of enthusiasm. But it's too early to pin that feeling on an economic turnaround. "These are people who have weathered the storm," he said. "They are entrepreneurs and they're naturally optimists."

Orgill's recently announced partnership with Canadian LBM distributor Castle Building Centres did, in fact, lead to a spike in Canadian participation. The market brought together more Castle dealers than have ever been brought together in one place -- about 150 of them.  So far, the partnership is working as expected, Beal said. "The combination of our front end expertise and Castle's dealer base and their experience and expertise in the building supply area means that together we offer the complete package."

On the market floor here at the Orange County Convention Center, dealers flowed steadily through two model stores that offered merchandising ideas in a simulated retail setting: Beale Street Lumber and Delta Farm & Hardware.