While this may be Equity Plumbing’s first-annual meeting, it is far from the first rodeo for the buying group’s veteran management team.

Equity is holding its inaugural national gathering at the Hyatt Regency in the Orlando International Airport. Yes, the hotel is part of the main terminal and many of the rooms overlook one of the main security areas. I’ve been amazed by how many people have said they’ve never experienced staying at an on-airport-property hotel. I’m finding the setup extremely nice and extremely convenient in terms of simply getting off the airport terminal train and sauntering up the escalator to the front desk.

Before the gathering officially started I sat down to chat with Equity President Matt Roos, Vice President Vendor Relations Bob Snyder and Vice President Marketing Ted Havel to conduct a Supply House Times Profile piece that will run in the December issue of the magazine.

Some tidbits from our conversation with Equity Plumbing’s management team:

• Equity morphed out of the Equity/EDN electrical buying group that was started more than 20 years ago. Management was noticing supply houses in the group that had dealings in both the electrical and plumbing industries. The main management group dates back to the original electrical buying group. Equity/EDN merged with IMARK Group in 2009.
Equity Plumbing started with 26 combination supply houses and now features a membership of a little more than 400 main supply houses. That total moves to 500 when branch locations are factored in. The buying group also features 85 vendor partners, which includes service providers. The group enjoyed a healthy increase in membership when it merged with another organization in 2012.

• The buying group, whose demographic typically sees members with between $5 million and $15 million in annual sales, will start its sixth year in July.
“We want to bring increased profit to our members and added value to our vendors,” Roos said. “This is a partnership on both sides. Our members and vendors have to provide value to both sides to make this continue to work and grow.”

• Snyder said the group’s meeting provides an important resource for both members and vendors.
“This meeting provides the ability to network and establish relationships,” he said. “Some members might not get a chance otherwise to meet with a VP of a company. This meeting encourages members and vendors to establish those relationships.”

Roos added: “This gets members in front of a large audience in a cost-effective manner.”
Looking forward, Equity is in the process of establishing a vendor committee and a marketing committee and has its sights set on increasing its online offering to members.

Equity Plumbing Meeting highlights

After a productive networking lunch that drew a large crowd, ASA Executive Vice President Mike Adelizzi spoke to Equity members about the benefits of being an ASA member.

NIBCO Catalog Account Manager Spencer Brotherson provided an update to members on the upcoming reduction in lead law that takes effect at the first of the year. NIBCO is part of the Get The Lead Out Consortium that has been extremely active throughout the industry in providing education about the new law. A highlight of Brotherson’s talk was a spirited question-and-answer session with Equity members who had questions and concerns about the law.

Members also took part in special networking meetings this afternoon. The meeting continues Thursday with vendor one-on-one meetings, as well as the 2013 award-winners, who will be honored during Thursday’s lunch.

For more on Equity Plumbing, read the Supply House Times Profile in our December issue.