First ever MEDCO tool show a stunning success

MEDCO is one of the biggest players in the general automotive repair and body shop tool and equipment distribution business, acting as a key provider in the Northeast and the rest of the country, with eight warehouses across the United States. Yet, MEDCO has never organized a tool show—until now.

"Even since I joined the company more than a decade ago, customers have been asking me when we are going to have a show," said Andrew Keim, president of MEDCO.  "My response to them has always been that we would do it when the time was right and this year, we decided that it was time."

As recently as May the planning process for the show just began. What was envisioned was a one day, by invitation only, no-nonsense show that would provide an opportunity for many of the nation's largest tool vendors to interface directly with MEDCO's choice jobbers and mobile tool distributors. The result would be an intimate setting where relationships could continue to be developed between customers, vendors and MEDCO.

"I was so pleased with the response of our valued suppliers when they were first contacted about the show," commented Michael Rau, vice president of purchasing and marketing at MEDCO. 

The marketing team put together a Las Vegas themed event, with colored lights and prizes given out throughout day. Vendors would give out a ticket for every few hundred dollars a distributor bought, that would be redeemable for prizes such as products, electronics or even a sports car. Prizes were to be awarded throughout the day into the evening. The stage was set for a true customer appreciation event.

The expo was held at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown on Oct. 13. The vendors represented a "Who's Who" of the PBE and tool industry. Announcements were made throughout the day covering who won the latest prize. AMEX gift cards, cash (given as poker chips) and iPads were popular prizes, but perhaps the most impressive were the two brand new vehicles given away at dinner. Ingersoll Rand, which also sponsored everyone's lunch, gave away a 2013 Ford Mustang and MEDCO also gave away a 2012 Ford F150.

More important than the prizes was the opportunity the event offered MEDCO to build relationships with their customers. The "by invitation only" event created a more intimate setting where relationships could continue to be developed between customers, vendors and MEDCO, making the MEDCO Customer Show 2012 more of a "customer appreciation show" than a traditional "tool show."  The Saturday scheduling and East Coast location made the event more convenient for many attendees and set the stage for an environment of conducting real-world business.

"Every single vendor at the Show used this opportunity to show new products, drive customer interest and establish a rapport with the attendees.  They had the opportunity to interact at meals and during our cocktail periods.  And they had an opportunity to better understand customer needs that will benefit all of us going forward," Rau noted.

Training was provided behind some key lines with incentives provided to reward attendance. Major manufacturers such as SK, OTC, Bosch, GearWrench, 3M and Ingersoll Rand took advantage of the event in order to interface directly with their customers in training sessions offered the day of. MEDCO raised awareness of quite a few of their initiatives including PROMO Zone, MEDCO University, and mobile apps.

The event had a little over 90 vendors and a total of 700 people in attendance. Being a "by invitation only" event, only serious customers attended and sales began early and continuing throughout the day. Most vendors and attendees expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the overall scheduling, set up and business opportunities available at the event. Due to the success of this year's event, the door has certainly been left open for a MEDCO 2013.

MEDCO did not address any such plans, but looking back on it Keim is very pleased with its success. "We put this Show together in a matter of months and we were told that it appeared as if we had been planning it for years," he commented.  "I could not be more proud of the organization that we have, or of the support and respect that we have with our manufacturers.  Most important, I am so thankful for the relationships that we have and are continuing to grow with our customers.  At the end of the day, everything we do is done with them in mind."

View a photo gallery of the show.