As part of Orgill’s e-Volution fall online buying event, the buying group’s CEO, Boyden Moore, addressed members via Zoom call Wednesday. The message: Times are changing, and Orgill is changing with them.
As he acknowledged the obvious change of the fall dealer market to an online event, Moore said that innovations gained during the transition to a virtual experience could very well be incorporated into some aspects of future dealer markets.
While online participants responded via a poll question that they missed the in-person aspects of the fall market, Moore laid out Orgill’s response to the pandemic that had sidelined the live event, and the Memphis-based company’s dedication to meeting demand and growth it has experienced in recent months.
To meet unprecedented demand for hardware and building supply products, Orgill hired an additional 600 staff members since June. Many of the new employees filled in additional shifts that were added to Orgill distribution centers, while 85% of the company’s office staff were able to work remotely.
Beefing up staffing at the distribution centers was key, Moore said, as customers saw unprecedented sales. The biggest growth in demand, he added, was from farm stores and hardware stores.
With seven distribution centers serving Orgill customers, the company is accelerating production on a New York facility that Moore said is “quickly needed as a way to fulfill demand.”
Along with work on that facility, Moore said other decisions were necessary to serve Orgill’s primary customers. Among those steps included suspending all conversion and new business activities so that the company could focus on demand. Orgill also was forced to suspend orders for customers who were not primary customers in order to retain inventory for those who were.
As of now, Moore said, restrictions on line counts and non-primary customers have been lifted.
Orgill is preparing for a pandemic lift sometime after second quarter of next year, Moore said, and while he foresees the pandemic stretching into 2021, some of the trends driving growth during the pandemic will continue much longer, particularly the higher share of homeowner spend that Orgill dealers have seen.
“We believe our dealers have earned new customers who have discovered or re-discovered their local hardware and home stores,” he said, adding that “We’re seeing through analytics an increase in return customers.”
Orgill’s focus on technology will help the network take advantage of the current market and engage with new and returning customers, Moore said.
“Our effective move to a remote environment has inspired us.”
Investments in Central Network Retail Group (CNRG), a group of more than 100 hardware stores, home centers, and lumberyards across 16 states, has allowed the company to learn and test software and marketing strategies.
“Our investment in CNRG is not to simply own retail stores. Our stores are challenged to be among the best, and they are. We operate 17 brands, proving the power of the local brand.” From those brands, Moore cited developments such as Brand Base software that is now used by 340 Orgill advisors, and Tyndale Advisors Marketing that serves a number of stores.
The e-commerce work group of 325 people is led by recently-hired Chief Information and Technology Officer Marc Hamer, who Moore said is leading the charge for Orgill dealers.
“We’re investing in the future now and we’re excited about what’s coming next,” he said. “Some may be hesitant to change, but at Orgill, we’re focused on driving the changes.”
As this pandemic has challenged the company, and the industry at large with limitations on travel, meetings, and events, Orgill hopes to focus on tackling those challenges in new ways.
“We’ve faced big challenges with you and we’re focused on the growth ahead,” Moore said. “We’re 100% committed. Whatever it takes.”
Orgill’s fall buying event continues online at Orgill.com through Sept. 4.