The newly announced leadership and direction of Luxury Products Group was front and center at the 2018 LPG Conference in Palm Desert, California — and was met with unmistakable enthusiasm.
Changes in the group dynamics fueled a distinct energy throughout the event that attracted about 120 members representing more than 250 luxury bath, kitchen and lighting showrooms, as well as 85 vendors and service providers. New LPG Director Jeff MacDowell used the opportunity to lay out short- and long-term opportunities to bring value to the group and help member showrooms compete in the evolving digitized sales environment.
MacDowell hit the ground running when he took the reins in November, rolling out an ambitious 90-day plan that included a new logo and website. “To be frank, he’s impressing the hell out of us,” said Republic Supply’s Gary Cedrone, a member of the LPG Executive Committee. “He has incredible energy and when you mix that with the depth of his showroom knowledge, it’s bringing the group to a whole new level.”
Central Arizona Supply’s Don Smith, a fellow Executive Committee member, added: “Jeff has accomplished so much in a very short amount of time and many of the new initiatives already have started gaining traction.”
The new branding has been a hit, Smith noted. “Our new logo communicates LPG is moving in an up-to-date forward-thinking direction,” he said. “The website is not quite completed but also shows LPG is enterprising and engaged in our market as well as in this new age of digital communications and sales.”
Cedrone admitted there was some anxiety because of the leadership change. “We asked members to be patient, watch as the 90-day plan is rolled out and see the vision for the long-term,” he said. “We knew they would be much more comfortable once they had a chance to engage Jeff in conversations during the conference.”
MacDowell’s transparent communications style gave members confidence in the “new” LPG and the valuable resources that will better position their businesses. “I wanted to make it clear that the LPG of the future is much more than a buying group,” he said. “With so much at stake, Luxury Products Group is dedicated to ensuring members’ viability in this highly competitive environment.”
Among the many initiatives MacDowell emphasized was cost-effective, technology-based marketing and advertising programs. “It’s a critical time for showrooms,” Cedrone said. “We’re at the end of the baby boomers and we need to learn how to reach millennials. Their first thought when purchasing something is often Amazon or something similar. They don’t have time or want to make the effort to visit brick and mortar showrooms. Our service providers are introducing some really cool stuff. LPG is going to be an innovator in bringing a whole new concept of marketing and selling to the table.”
LPG recently added vendors DXV and Barber Wilsons to its portfolio. “We want to aim for higher-demographic customers looking for the type of products they can’t get online or in big boxes,” MacDowell said.
One of the biggest topics of the conference was the positive impact of new product categories, including lighting.
Cedrone emphasized the importance of a diversified portfolio, saying “Showrooms should be telling clients that we can outfit every phase of their homes, provide the ultimate in service and offer competitive pricing on high-end products. If not, showrooms might as well put a lock on the door.”
This article was originally titled “Positioning for the future” in the April 2018 print edition of Supply House Times.