D&H Mid-Year Tech Show Draws 1,000
D&H Distributing hosted an upbeat contingent of vendors and dealers its semi-annual vendor/dealer show June 4th at Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa., not far from its headquarters. One of the show’s aims was to present products and total solutions answering the needs of the K-through-12 educational market ahead of the back-to-school season. The event included a K-through-12 Education Opportunity exhibit outside the main exhibition hall to encourage dealers to take advantage of seasonal discounts for these types of products, with show-day-only pricing.
However, the mix of categories exhibited was broader, to answer the needs of what Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing, said is “a diverse customer base” that includes a mix of value-added resellers as well as etailers and retailers.
Some exhibitors that were new to the June show this year included MakerBot, Carbonite, Google, Kwikset, LockNCharge, and WeBoost (the consumer-facing brand of Wilson Electronics).
The show, higher in turnout numbers by about 10 percent over the exhibition in late June of 2014, attracted about 1,000 attendees and more than 100 vendors, who saw a wider selection than ever of new and emerging-tech categories. “We now have three lines of 3D printers at the show – MakerBot, XYZ Printing, and ROBO 3D. That technology is exciting – up and to the right,” said Eby, adding that he expects an uptake uptick in that type of product – particularly as machines decrease in price – among the educational and architectural markets.
Another hot category at the show, said Eby, was wearables. “The Apple Watch creates even more awareness for the category at many different price-points, and people like to be connected and check their heart rates. With phone vendors and non-traditional entrants like Acer [coming to market], the number of wearables vendors has gone from a couple to 10 this June,” he said, “and that’s an area where there’ll be growth.”
Eby said that D&H’s sales for the new fiscal year, which just started, were already “up in the high single digits” at this early stage. The reason? “It’s how we service the customer, and it’s our mix. We have outside salespeople and also inside salespeople dedicated to accounts.”
D&H also offered six educational seminars from Cisco, Dell, HP, Intel, Lenovo and Microsoft. He cited one customer education initiative that sets D&H apart: its Solutions Lab – an enterprise that produces live product tutorials and other informational broadcasts at the company’s headquarters that are offered to dealers both live (complete with a Q&A session) and then are archived for later access.
D&H also is reaping the benefits of a restructure of its outside sales force, Eby said. Before, it was set up solely by territory but now, it is organized both territorially and on class of business for greater efficiency.
The company is bullish on several product categories for the balance of 2015 and into 2016 – notably, notebook and desktop computers. “In many small-business settings, it’s time for an upgrade,” he said in explaining robust sales of these products.
“Another exciting area is the Internet of Things,” added Eby. “Everything’s becoming connected.” He pointed to the rise of brands such as Quirky, which has morphed from offering cleverly designed accessories such as snaking power strips to the point of partnering with GE in devising and deploying a connected-home architecture and product portfolio called Wink. “It’s getting to be about home control with your mobile device,” he said.
Eby said D&H show attendees were upbeat, because “the economy’s coming back, and consumers are more comfortable about spending their money,” he theorized. “It was a cold winter in many places, and they didn’t spend. There’s pent-up demand. The dealers seem positive. No one’s preaching doom and gloom.”