Cornwell Quality Tools Rally 2012 recap

The 2012 Cornwell Tool Rally took place on March 12-13 at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas, and by all accounts it was a great success. Four training seminars were offered during the first day, including two presentations developed in response to dealers' requests.

One presentation was "The Six Minute Sales Challenge." Cornwell president Bill Nobley told us that, in addition to helping dealers hone their sales techniques, it was also intended to help the vendors understand how the dealers sell tools.

"These dealers are moving at a rapid pace and don't have time to make a PowerPoint presentation about a product … time of transaction drives a lot of the business, and we wanted the vendors to see that." Hopefully the vendors will design packaging and sales material to help the dealer explain the product quickly to their customer.

Nobley described another popular seminar, "Why does the tool business work?" as basic information about the business "from a numbers standpoint; it's always beneficial to refresh people in that area."

The trade show floor opened for three hours as a preview, after the seminars ended. That left another full day for dealers and vendors to complete all their business, and although it made for a very busy day, everyone we asked expressed appreciation for the compressed program.

Nobley told us that dealers and vendors both reported increased business over the past year, and dealers noted an increase in sales to shop owners, who presumably buy more capital equipment.

Business for Cornwell is improving too. Although the recession took a toll on many tool dealers, Nobley said, "The encouraging thing is that the dealer-purchase-average has increased significantly over the past three years." He attributes this at least partly to the Cornwell business model, saying that franchise tool sales "is the only business we're in. We're not a conglomerate, not a public company making decisions for the shareholders…we're in the same boat as our dealers. Our dealers make more margin than we do, and we're the only company where that happens."

We asked Nobley what he would tell those Cornwell dealers who couldn't make it to the rally about what they missed. In addition to the "sharing attitude" one would expect from a gathering like this, he said that "every dealer who goes to the rally improves his business when he goes home." He hopes to see them all at the rally in Dallas next year.