Many groups throughout the PHCP-PVF industry have embraced the establishment of young executives programs whether it be buying groups, national/regional associations or even at the local company level.
The Forte decorative plumbing and hardware buying group sits squarely in that category as it continues to emphasize its young leaders program.
“I formerly chaired the young leaders program in Forte and now am on the Board of Directors,” said Mindy Sevinor of Massachusetts-based Forte shareholder Designer Bath/Salem Plumbing Supply. “As a young leader we all can compare opportunities, successes and challenges we all face on a daily basis. We are tremendous resources for each other and share best practices. This wealth of knowledge and insight comes not just from our peer leaders, but all shareholders. In Forte, we gain an education you just can’t receive anywhere else in the industry.”
Audrey Loder of Raleigh, N.C.-based Wilkinson Supply also has gained valuable insight from her time in the young leaders program. “The people involved in the young leaders program are the future leaders of Forte,” she said. “This group is a great forum where all young voices can be heard. The discussions often pertain to what our group and our industry will be like 10 years from now. We discuss how to stay relevant in current and future market conditions. As independents, it is crucial to support our buying group to stay competitive. The young minds often have the best insight on what is working for them in terms of effective marketing approaches, including event planning and social media. I continue to learn so much from this group of dedicated and innovative young minds in our industry.”
During Forte’s annual conference held in mid-February in Indian Wells, Calif., Forte President Howard Frankel (of New York-based Central Plumbing Specialties/Grande Central Showrooms of New York) said the group is off to a strong 2017 start.
“We all came off a pretty flat year in 2016,” Frankel told Supply House Times at the annual conference. “We all had a very good first and second quarter and that led into a slow third and fourth quarter. It might have been election related, but we’re not sure. Now, everybody is inspired because we all have come off a great January and we’re looking forward to a great year.”
Forte welcomed numerous new shareholders and preferred vendor partners. New Forte shareholders include Belmont Hardware (Belmont, Calif.), Banbury Lane Design Centre (Calgary, Alberta), Coastal Supply (Staten Island, N.Y.), Earth Elements (Gallitan Gateway, Mont.), Miller’s Elegant Hardware (Boca Raton, Fla.) and PACE Supply/Premier Bath & Kitchen (Rohnert Park, Calif.). New preferred vendor partners include California Faucets and The Galley (manufacturer of kitchen workstations).
“There always are exciting things going on with Forte and this year is no different,” Frankel said. “We have a couple new vendors and we saw some new products during the cocktail hour (Forte vendors’ products are on display in booths during this time each year) that we’re very inspirational.”
Forte has grown to a group that has more than 95 principals operating more than 250 showrooms across North America. The group also features 56 preferred vendors.
Forte shareholders voted to reestablish the group’s Vendor Committee, which will develop partnership programs with preferred vendors to increase volume in the Forte channel, serve as a sounding board for different Forte vendor initiatives and conduct the annual Forte face-to-face vendor meetings. This year’s meeting also once again featured the Forte peer-to-peer network meetings where shareholders with similar business models in noncompeting markets discuss challenges, opportunities and what works and what falls short.
In addition to Frankel, the 2017 Forte Board of Directors includes Jimmy Georgitsos (Astro Design Centre, first VP), David Kotowsky (The Advantage Plumbing Group, second VP), Brad McDonald (Pacific Plumbing Supply, secretary), Sevinor (treasurer), Ken Avery (Jack London Kitchen & Bath Gallery, director), Loder (director), Sarah Hildebrandt (Clyde Hardware Co., director) and Doug Hermance (Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware, immediate past president).
This article was originally titled “Embracing tomorrow” in the April 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.