The philosophy of house brands on display in Boston

Boston -- Orgill's Jim Wilson, VP of Worldwide Sourcing for the Memphis-based distributor, is philosophical about the role of house brands like MintCraft, Tool Basix and Vulcan.

"We're doing this because it adds value and our customers tell us it's a good thing to do," he told HCN during on the market floor of Orgill's Boston Dealer Market here. "If this was no longer a value, we would exit these categories and lines, but I don't see that happening  here or anywhere else in the retail environment."

In fact, Wilson said sales of the distributor's private brands -- including all-purpose MintCraft for items from sledgehammers to bicycles, and Boston Harbor for decorative lighting -- are growing at a faster pace than Orgill's overall sales.

Part of that has been the increase in the breadth of the Worldwide sourcing offering, but also market pressures. More credit goes to the program value than the individual brand names, he said. "The growth that we've seen is really from the value that we've shown in the process that we source products," Wilson said.

The value is on full display here at the Boston Orgill Dealer Market show floor, where "Dare to Compare" signs show the price advantage of various Orgill-brand products in head-to-head competition with those of national retailers -- with actual receipts from Lowe's and Home Depot 

The growth of Orgill's worldwide sourcing division comes purely on the merits of the products, Wilson said.

"We don't force any of our customers to buy any of our sourcing products," Wilson said. "And there's no additional incentive for our salesmen to sell any of our sourced products." 

Along with MintCraft and Boston Harbor, Orgill's brands include HomeBasix, ToolBasix, Diamondback workwear, Power Zone commodity electrical products and Vulcan tools.

Wilson added that national brands are and will remain crucial to the success of Orgill and its customers. "We could not exist without our manufacturer partners who provide the products and our brands to our dealers," he said. 

Still, private label is evolving and will most likely continue to shape the retail environment. 

The balance of private label at retail is a deep and important question. "As to where this all going, it's kind of like Philosophy 101," Wilson said. "It's changing the complexion of the retail environment and it's exciting to watch it happening."