Nationwide’s PrimeTime! Plays Music City
Around 950 member companies and over 4,000 attendees made the trek to Nashville this week for the Nationwide Marketing Group’s PrimeTime! Conference, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Once there, they were entertained by the likes of top-tier music talent (including performances at the Grand Ole Opry by some of their own), exposed to the wares of some 200 product and services vendors, educated by multiple seminars on business management, marketing and sales, and reassured by a bullish Robert Weisner, the group’s co-CEO with co-CEO Les Kirk, that Nationwide would continue to be “the savior of the independent.
“We’re poised to take the declining Sears business,” he told attending media at a state-of-the-group presentation where each division reported on sales results and projected how business would play out through the latter part of 2014.
Weisner said Nationwide is well on its way to adding the 500 dealers it set as its 2014 goal, having added 281 in the first half to bring the member total to more than 3,700.
Dave Bilas, the group’s president and COO, pointed out that about half of the new members are furniture dealers. “Furniture is a huge growth opportunity,” he said.
The group comes off a “tough” first half affected by various factors including regional weather issues which “got in the way,” said Weisner. “But we’ve done well since to hit numbers we didn’t even anticipate. Growth is important to us, with the [retail] attrition going on in the world… We believe there’s a place for every retailer in America to be part of Nationwide.”
In appliances, Jeff Knock, Nationwide’s executive vice president (who also sat in as drummer for the warm-up band before country music singer/songwriter Martina McBride’s specially commissioned concert), cited new-home contract business as a bright spot for the industry, up 17 to 18 percent, while retail was flat in the first half. “Retail is creeping back,” he said, “and July 4 we moved a lot of boxes – and that should continue for Labor Day.” He projected a four percent increase in appliance sales by year’s end. “Long term, the industry outlook is very positive.” He said Nationwide appliance sales are tracking at retail-industry levels with “our premium-brand vendors elated” about year-over-year sales rises.