Furniture World News Desk on
Teamwork, passion, and collaboration continue to be the cornerstones of the National Alliance of Trade Merchants (NATM), underscoring the success of the 2023 NATM Vendor Conference, held September 19-21 at the Omni Frisco Hotel in Frisco, Texas. The theme of the three-day conference “Together Towards Tomorrow” provided a platform and an opportunity for newly appointed head of NATM, John Riddle, to drive the national buying co-op forward with his vision.
“The goal is to pave the way for our collective future by uniting our members, vendors, and partners to reshape the retail landscape,” said Riddle. “We need to pull together to strengthen the collaboration among our members and continually reach out to the OEMs to expand our partnerships. This event was the first step in facilitating the dialogue among our members to propel the customer experience to the next level and foster ideas that will pave the road for the future of retail in the consumer electronics, appliance, furniture and bedding industries.”
The vendor conference brought together CEOs from the largest global retailers and provided NATM members with access to senior leadership brainpower from top consumer brands. These leaders provided insights into the structuring of brand offerings, marketplace strategy, product diversification, and enhanced delivery options. Members in attendance were left ideally positioned to leverage their advantages over large-scale retailers and big box store competitors, able to offer OEM partners unparalleled opportunities for collaborative growth and success.
Riddle brings more than 40 years of retail and manufacturing expertise to NATM, and an impressive track record of management as a former senior executive with LG Electronics, Maytag/Whirlpool, Electrolux, and Howard’s. It all began with a role in the family TV and appliance business; Riddle is now a visionary with invaluable industry insights he has garnered along the way. He is assisted in his leadership role in NATM by board President and CEO of R.C. Willey Scott Hymas, and other members of the board including Gregg Richard of P.C. Richard, Marty Hartunian of ABC Warehouse, and Mike Abt of Abt Appliances.
“Marketplace demand is shifting toward mandatory replacements and – as a result – the lower end appliance category is expanding,” said Riddle. “We are seeing a drop in the average selling price of parts, and a rebirth of home construction that spells good news for NATM members, vendors, and partners.”
Riddle has several key goals for NATM, among them a need to improve security levels for members and better collaborative sharing of information between members and vendors. He wants to grow NATM strategically, adding large retailers in new locations – particularly in the Western U.S. Riddle’s three primary future objectives for NATM revolve around prioritizing and strategic planning for members and the business they take on to ensure value and adequate representation for all NATM members, a focus on fortifying relationships and cultivating new ones with vendor partners and OEMs and optimizing member profits.
“NATM needs to enhance the value of our membership by exploring all new and possible business opportunities for our members,” said Riddle. “We need to build on our existing momentum by helping our members do more with the size, volume, and variety of their products and recognize new potential opportunities in the marketplace. Our members want to see more attention paid to the POS data and analytics of their products and businesses which we intend to provide; this is what will build trust among our members while preserving the security and integrity of their critical operational information.”
The September conference saw over 400 attendees including the group’s 10 regional members, OEMs, vendors and retailers. NATM members represent retail outlets selling goods to consumers that comprise 72% of the U.S. population, and half of them reside in the largest metro areas in the country. Riddle says he’s seeing an increased demand for lower end appliances in those regions, with more consumers seeking alternatives to big box store offerings. He believes this opens new opportunities for vendor partnerships and regional alliances among NATM members to capture that business.
“Big box stores aren’t committed to the industries our members represent, and their diversity is starting to have a negative impact on their profits — especially in the consumer sectors our members serve,” said Riddle. “I see NATM as a national account size operation in the major appliance, TV, CE, furniture and bedding arenas that can capitalize on that. With enhanced collaboration and more outreach to OEMs by our members, we will be able to offer specialized programs for our vendors and more comprehensive analytics to fill in the gaps to grow organically together.”
For more information about the conference, visit natmcorp.com.
About NATM Buying Corporation
Established in 1970, National Alliance Trade Merchants (NATM) is a preeminent national buying co-op that encompasses ten regional retailers within the appliance and electronics sector. The organization orchestrates member buying and merchandising strategies while fostering an arena for the interchange of ideas. By harmonizing these strategies, NATM not only optimizes value and profitability for its members but also delves into uncharted market prospects. For more information, visit natmcorp.com