Newly minted buying group lays out plans going forward at Spring Expo meeting.
The recent merger of Omni Corporate Services, Equity Plumbing and IMARK Group came into much clearer focus at the new IMARK Plumbing Spring Expo held in late January in Orlando, Florida.
IMARK Plumbing President John Aykroyd (who held the same position with Omni) went through how the merger came about that led to Omni and Equity combining forces to form IMARK Plumbing with 643 members under the IMARK Group umbrella, which also includes IMARK Electrical and its more than 800 members.
“Shortly after our summer 2017 meeting in San Diego, I got a call from Equity’s Matt Roosand we had some conversations,” Aykroyd said. “I met with Matt and IMARK Group CEO Bob Smith and at that point we felt it was necessary to get our chairmen involved. Brent Anderson (Mountainland Supply and Omni chairman at the time) and I met with Bob Smithand their chairman (George Vorwick of United Electrical Supply). Brent said to me this was our only chance to do this thing and we need to make it happen.
“We found out they are just like our members: wholesaler-distributors with the same issues we have. We did some member webinars with both groups. In a matter of two days we hit close to 90% of the membership of both groups. Everybody saw the future of independent distributors. That’s why we did this: to protect the independent distributor.”
On the IMARK Plumbing side, the group now features the 643 members (with more than 1,500 branch locations), making it the largest plumbing buying group in the industry in terms of membership. The group has $7 billion in annual sales with a membership breakout of 34% commercial; 23% residential; 15% PVF; 14% showroom; 8% waterworks and irrigation; and 6% HVAC. Eighty-two members are common to IMARK Electrical.
In terms of the immediate future, Aykroyd rolled out a host of back-office enhancements for the group, including a group healthcare plan. He added the HVAC category will be an area of key focus in 2019.
Aykroyd indicated the group’s vendor invitational meeting (carrying on an Omni tradition) will be held in the summer in the Dallas area and the next Spring Expo occurs in early 2020 in San Diego.
What Aykroyd and Roos said will not change is something both Omni and Equity became known for over the years: the family atmosphere. “One of the things I enjoyed was the family atmosphere,” Aykroyd said. “It’s something that is very important to us and to the membership — to maintain that family culture in this buying group. It’s one of the main reasons we have been successful.”
Aykroyd noted Equity brought more than 100 showrooms into the group, while IMARK Electrical has more than 200 lighting showrooms. Those will become part of the group’s Luxury Products Group luxury showroom vertical. Aykroyd confirmed LPG will retain its name. “This will bring us to more than 300 members in LPG,” he said.
IMARK Plumbing executives include Aykroyd, Roos (Executive VP for IMARK Plumbing & Electrical), Stephen Percevich (VP Member Development), Ted Havel (VP Marketing and Supplier Relations), Jeff MacDowell (LPG Director), Pradeep Lodha (Operations Manager), Stephanie Palmer (Administrative Assistant), Dan Potter (Marketing Coordinator) and Barb Marinelli (Rebate & Accounting Assistant).
Earlier in Orlando, LPG held its Spring Expo. MacDowell revealed during the event LPG added 27 new showroom members during 2018 and approved 10 new vendors, while introducing a new young executives division. Rick’s Hardware and Decorative Plumbing earned LPG Showroom of the Year honors, while Americh Corp., was named vendor of the year.
Group Editorial Director Mike Miazga’s interview with MacDowell will be featured in the April issue and a video interview Miazga did with MacDowell can be viewed now at SupplyHT.com.