Annual Cornwell Tools National Rally goes virtual

March 17, 2021
This year’s show was held virtually on a platform made in-house to help keep vendors and mobile dealers close despite the distance between their screens.
Cornwell 'booth' setup for the show this year!
Cornwell "booth" setup for the show this year!

The 2021 Cornwell Quality Tools Tool Rally took place March 5-6 with a bit of a twist; this year they went virtual. Due to COVID-19, Cornwell felt that to keep their attendees safe and healthy the rally should be held online.

A new kind of venue

To keep this show on-par with those held in the past, Cornwell went so far as to create their own platform to host the event.

“We built [the platform] in-house,” says Cornwell Director of Marketing Don Russell. “And we kept it very simple. We didn’t want technology to get in the way of the dealer and the vendor exchanging information.”

With over 600 mobile tool dealers registered for the event and 104 vendors participating, the attendance for the tool rally was almost as high as when the event had been held in-person.

Russell noted that more than 90 of the vendors present had committed to doing Zoom meetings that were integrated into the website. All the attendees had to do was click on the vendor they wanted to see, scroll a little, and click to connect with them through Zoom. Though the virtual show was a great success, Cornwell is looking forward to seeing everyone in-person again soon, and perhaps with a new event added to the rally.

This year marked Cornwell’s first ever Tool Rally Kick-off event. The kick-off meeting welcomed all attendees and vendors to the event and got everyone excited about the new products Cornwell just released and others that are coming soon. They also utilized the kick-off to announce the top five dealers for 2020.

Ranked No. 5 – Raymond Simpkins

Ranked No. 4 – Teddy & Crystal Sanchez

Ranked No. 3 – Alex Indeck & Alex Pohl

Ranked No. 2 – Brian Houpt & Laura Baitsell

Ranked No. 1 for the last 12 years – Sean & Karen Fenton

Though only the top five could be mentioned due to time constraints, Cornwell’s top 100 dealers will receive either their Cornwell ring or watch, depending on how many years they’ve been in the ‘Top 100.’

Online training sessions, show deals, and products galore

Following the kick-off lead to Saturday morning’s online training sessions. Cornwell held four training sessions this year, including IBN Tips & Tricks, Tool Storage, Promo Blast, and New Products & Rally Website.

IBN or the Ironman Business Network is Cornwell’s own business management system. At the show, dealers had a chance to learn more techniques to better utilize the system. The tool storage class introduced the dealers to Cornwell’s new 56” roll cab and top chest, while also providing them methods on how to sell big and small Platinum toolboxes.

Russell notes that he taught the New Products & Rally Website class, where he was able to deliver an overview of how to use the rally website to the fullest and what new products are coming down the pipeline. Lastly, at the Promo Blast class, a team of district managers the different kits available and how the dealers could take advantage of the tool bundles to enhance their profits.

At the show Cornwell offered many deals. From an air tool kit, a Milwaukee heated gear kit, a tool storage promotion, all the way to their apprentice kit, which included a limited-edition Cornwell guitar. Additionally, they offered over 500 super specials.

“One of the things we did this year is we reduced our booth fee dramatically,” Russell says. “We asked the vendors, ‘Look you’re not going to be traveling, you’re not going to be flying, no hotel rooms, [and] we’re backing off the booth fee. Can you turn that around and do something above and beyond on discounts on tools?’ Many of them did, and we matched or exceeded that discount. Our super specials this year are quite amazing for our dealers.”

Aside from the deals, one of the big hits of the weekend was Cornwell’s new Platinum 56” toolbox. The toolbox can combine with anything else in the Platinum line to make a box as big as the technician needs, Russell explains.

In addition to the new toolbox, Cornwell also released their newly designed torque wrenches, new 1/2" drive ratchet with an extender, their new line of screwdrivers, and much more. Be on the lookout for these tools as they become available this summer.

The effects of 2020

2020 wasn’t an easy year for anyone, and 2021 is still a bit rocky, but through their ups and their downs, Cornwell was able to come out on top at the end of 2020.

“Cornwell went through a four-to-six-week period of ‘Oh my gosh, this is not going so well last spring,’” Cornwell President Bob Studenic says. “It was a period of constant adjustment and evaluation of ‘How is this really going to work? Have we reached the bottom? What are we going to do?’ It was a little painful, but we got through it.

“At the low point, we were down to having approximately only 60 percent of our franchise dealers running on a consistent basis, but we had a record year in sales. We came in slightly above our original forecast for 2020 on a consolidated basis. We’re very, very fortunate.”

Studenic remarks how the Cornwell team pulled together to generate creative deals and marketing efforts and sales were picked up everywhere, not from any one specific product line. All of those efforts including the growth and retention of their dealer base – 40 new dealers from 2019 to 2020 for a total of now 730 dealers at the end of last year – came together to help pull Cornwell through the challenging times created by 2020.

Looking ahead…

Vendors of the tool rally and Cornwell mobile tool dealers alike can get excited for next year’s event in Florida at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel.

“We really relish being in person,” Russell says. “Having that interpersonal communication and taking a tool and handing it to the [dealer] and pointing out a feature. That’s just so important, and we really can’t wait to get back to in-person.”

About the Author

Emily Markham | Editor | PTEN and Professional Distributor

Emily Markham is the editor of  Professional Tool & Equipment News (PTEN) and Professional Distributor magazines. These publications are part of the Endeavor Business Media Vehicle Repair Group.

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