Embassy President Mike Lepley said the buying group continues to be thrilled with the growth its plumbing, HVAC and waterworks verticals are experiencing — with the waterworks and HVAC units in particular making key strides in the short time they have been active.

“We’ve been in waterworks for about a year and that segment continues to grow for us,” Lepley told Supply House Times at the recent 24th annual Embassy Spring Conferencein Orlando, Fla. “What’s nice is we have the flexibility to be patient and strategic with that division. We are going to make sure we are bringing on the right vendors and the right waterworks members. We feel in the next five to seven years that division is going to be like our plumbing and HVAC group, which also had great years for us in 2014.”

Lepley added a waterworks arm to the buying group in 2014 to fill an industry need. Embassy’s waterworks division has grown to 17 members and 23 vendors.

“There is a lot of product being purchased in that particular vertical and there are not a lot of opportunities for people to come together for buying power and compete against the big nationals,” he said.

This year’s Spring Conference attracted record attendance of more than 600 individuals to the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. “This is a working show,” Lepley said. “Every vendor meets with every member. If a member is in multiple divisions, it very easily can have more than 100 meetings during the week.”

 Lepley echoed the sentiments of other industry buying groups in terms of 2014 group performance. “2014 was an excellent year for Embassy on both sides of the table,” he said. “All three of our verticals — plumbing, HVAC and waterworks — continue to grow. We’re up to 63 vendors in our HVAC division and we are continuing to add new members to the group. We’re very optimistic about 2015.”

Lepley added the group’s success is made possible by the names on the roster that have been able to navigate through challenging times.

“We’re obviously conscious of consolidation in the industry,” he said. “What’s going to keep Embassy strong is our continued alignment with the right distributors in the right markets. We run this thing lean and mean. It’s a simplistic model where we don’t get caught up in overhead or any other fluff. We’re putting the very best Embassy-approved vendors and members together to collectively grow business and to facilitate strong sales and strong purchases. We’re going to see this group grow because we have the right mix of members and vendors.”

New Embassy members in 2014 were Palace Supply (Bronx, N.Y.), WA Birdsall (Linden, N.J.) and Winston Water Cooler in Dallas. The group also recently added Michigan Pipe & Valve.

 Embassy’s 2015 fall meeting occurs Aug. 19-21 in Chicago, while the 2016 Spring Conference will celebrate the buying group’s 25th anniversary March 14-18 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix.