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HDA Hosts Sold-Out Group Merchandising Conference in Indy

Last week, Hardlines Distribution Alliance (HDA) hosted its 21st Group Merchandising Conference (GMC) in Indianapolis. Attendees of the sold-out event took part in new events, including a new vendor preview, and enjoyed returning activities like the pre-scheduled meetings with vendors. 

This was the first GMC to take place in Indianapolis, and HDA president Shari Kalbach says attendees enjoyed the bustling culture and unique restaurants and attractions Indy offers.

“Indianapolis was a fantastic venue for this year’s GMC,” Kalbach says. “With this year being the first we have hosted a conference in Indy, we looked for a location that would offer the space for productive meetings and networking receptions and a city that offered a variety of destinations where attendees could continue to collaborate outside of scheduled events. Indianapolis checked all the boxes.”

During the new vendor preview event, 31 new HDA vendors displayed their products. The preview allowed new vendors to make connections with distributor buyers that kick-started the one-on-one meetings on Tuesday morning. 

“As a new vendor and attending my first HDA conference, I was questioning what to expect, but what I got far exceeded my expectations,” says Keith Guliner, CEO with Seaco Industries. “It was a super event meeting wonderful people who were the key decision makers for their company. It’s rare to have one-on-one time like we had, and I am already excited for the next one.”

All attending vendors were given an entire private suite to set up their displays, product demonstrations, digital presentations and larger marketing materials. The suites also provided a private location for vendors to conduct meetings with HDA distributor members on Tuesday and Wednesday in an environment that fostered important conversations and new business relationships. In all, 1,380 pre-scheduled meetings took place. 

Tuesday evenings reception featured food stations and cocktails to encourage social networking with those who may not have met one-on-one. After meetings wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon, the farewell reception that evening allowed attendees the opportunity to network once again and plan follow-up and potential product placement. 

“This year’s GMC was in a great city and had the most new vendors with good programs,” says Tom Nunes, vice president of purchasing and marketing at Horizon Distribution. “We will be able to add 30-plus new items with current vendors and start stocking 4-plus new vendors in our warehouse. All the meetings were valuable.”

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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