Creativity was on display in abundance recently in Charleston, S.C.

WIT & Co. once again held its WIT Honors Achievements in Marketing (WHAM!) awards luncheon during its 2013 Fall Networking Meeting at Charleston Place hotel. The WHAM! program highlights member owners who show excellence in a number of marketing and public relations categories.

Fargo, N.D.-based Dakota Supply Group was the recipient of the overall 2013 WHAM! award. The company showcased numerous innovative marketing tools, including a vendor scorecard and its own Connections internal magazine.

“The marketing facet is huge for us,” Dakota Supply Group Plumbing Segment Manager Ryan Tracy told Supply House Times in a video interview available at “We know a lot of our products can be bought at other places and the things that set us apart are our marketing and value-added services. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”

Tracy said the vendor scorecard has been a major hit. “The vendor scorecard shows vendors live data on how they perform for us,” he said. “Our vendors seem to love it. It shows them how many bids we are putting out and how many turns we are getting. It shows concrete data so we can work together to make changes.”

Dakota Supply Group also won in the business development/marketing research category.

Other WHAM! winners included: Vineland, N.J.-based Ace Plumbing, Heating & Electrical Supplies (advertising and brand awareness), Elkhart, Ind.-based Mid-City Supply (e-marketing and Web campaigns), Hartford, Conn.-based Plimpton & Hills (promotions and events), Selkirk, N.Y.-based Security Supply (public relations) and Knoxville, Tenn.-based Modern Supply (merchandising/showrooms). Ace was honored for a series of humorous and well-produced television commercials that highlight the company’s new 6,000-sq.-ft. showroom.

The meeting again featured no shortage of informative guest speakers. Former advertising executive Scott Deming presented his keynote talk on creating the ultimate customer experience. Deming mixed in an engaging, humorous style with some audience participation exercises.

Kohler Senior Showrooms Trainer David Doyle provided an in-depth discussion on luxury service, while Rich Schmitt talked about profit optimization strategies. On the final day, Arthur J. Gallagher’s Steve Hopp spoke on health-care reform. For more on Deming and Doyle’s presentations, see Page 71.

Meeting attendees also enjoyed an evening aboard the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. The Yorktown is the 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy and earned 11 battle starts in World War II and five in Vietnam. It was decommissioned in 1970 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1980.

 WIT’s 2014 vendor-distributor conference is slated for March 31-April 4 in Dallas, while the 2014 Fall Networking Meeting (celebrating WIT’s 40th anniversary) will be held Sept. 2-5 in Portland, Ore.