The tool and equipment aftermarket took advantage of networking opportunities, from the golf course to the exhibit hall, at the Tool & Equipment Distributors Associates' 13th annual event in June. The three-day 2007 Vendor Advisory Meeting at the Sheraton Annapolis Hotel welcomed 145 delegates representing TEDA's warehouses, industry vendors and trade press.
The business session opened with the announcement that Rob Halbritter, president of Midstate Tool & Supply Inc., was elected by the board to serve as TEDA chairman. Halbritter also served as chairman during TEDA's founding, and seemed happy to retake the post.
Halbritter welcomed the audience with an energizing rally, calling for members to "work together to build businesses and increase the market." Despite a general downsizing in the auto industry, Halbritter said there are still many opportunities for growth — and TEDA with its vendors must work together for success.
The show's exhibit hall featured 71 vendors showcasing new products and promotions for the fall selling season. Products included everything from tire repair kits to color-coded couplers and power-drill abrasives.
"I thought everything was very positive and upbeat," said Glen Pratt, president of TEDA. "Some vendors told me it was the best meeting ever … the smoothest.
"You're always going to have hitches … but we've been doing this for 13 years and we're trying to make it as smooth as possible."
Private one-on-one meetings were held in the evenings. More than 40 vendors requested to have these meetings, which provided the opportunity to converse in a more confidential and relaxed environment.
During the business session, six suppliers were recognized by TEDA's marketing committee for achieving "significant growth in 2006." The President's Award for 2006 Marketing & Growth Achievement was presented to Astro Pneumatic, Lincoln Industrial, Lisle Corp., Mastercool, Mayhew Tools and National Electric.
Glen Pratt, president of TEDA, also received recognition for his dedicated service and outstanding achievements for members of TEDA.
"Is this supposed to be my swan song?" Pratt joked, as he accepted the award plaque.
Next year's meeting is set for the week of June 9 at the Hilton Doubletree in Annapolis. Pratt estimates 160 vendors and members will attend.
TEDA president Glen Pratt's annual report gave highlights on the group's performance and future initiatives, including:
• Group volume continued its seven-year steady growth (2006 was up 5 percent).
• Volatile fuel costs affected 2006 quarterly performance.
• Specialty tools continued to be the No. 1 product category by volume.
• Categories that grew during 2006 were: A/C tools, Electrical testers, Lubrication, Tools storage, and Welding.
• Mobile jobbers continued to gain by 71-percent overall volume.
• TEDA website (www.tedatoolbox.com) expanded to include more product information and images.
Before presenting his annual report, TEDA president Glen Pratt asked the audience to stand in a moment of silence to commemorate Roger Shalz, who passed away May 14, 2007, in Sacramento, Calif. Shalz joined TEDA in 1988. He served on the board of directors, including as chairman from 1994-'96. It was Shalz's vision to hold an annual vendor appreciation/advisory meeting to keep communication open and recognize hard work and success in the industry.