eCommerce Solutions discussed at 2016 AD North American Meeting

Group also promoted its HR Services program and honored industry leaders at its Spirit of Independence Awards.

The 2016 AD North American Meeting for its PHCP Divisions (Plumbing, PVF and HVAC), Sept. 12-15 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine, Texas attracted a record attendance of 949 attendees, including 185 who participated for the first time.
One item AD is clearly putting its leverage behind is eCommerce. Why now? By 2020, B2B online sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $1.1 trillion dollars — or 12 percent of all B2B sales.

“You’ve all built your customer experience from the branch level,” said Caroline Ernst, vice president of eCommerce Solutions at AD. “Ecommerce doesn’t replace the branch, but it does extend your relationship with your customers. Ecommerce lets your customers order 24/7, download a transaction and request a quote. Your customers are beginning to take a digital first approach to discovering and making purchases.”

To that end, AD has been busy developing an eCommerce Solutions program for its members since a personal undertaking into such a venture would be far too costly for individual distributors.

“We’ve driven costs down significantly,” said Bryana Kennedy, senior eSolutions manager at AD. “An individual company would have to pay $2-$5 per SKU to develop, we’ve been able to leverage our scale to allow our members to pay pennies per SKU.”

AD discussed the upcoming service, which officially launches next month for its PHCP Divisions; the Industrial and Electrical Divisions have already been working with the program since the beginning of this year.

“AD has always been on the forefront of innovation,” added Jeffrey Beall, AD’s president, PHCP Divisions. “The entrepreneurial spirit that drives our members to stay ahead of the competitive landscape is demonstrated once again through eCommerce. This cross divisional initiative goes to the strength of the AD value proposition.”

Currently, there are 150 participating member distributors and 1,300 manufacturers across five AD Divisions. In 2016 AD has aggregated and normalized over 2.3 million SKUs, and plans to add another 2.2 Million SKUs in 2017.

Throughout the planning process, members and supplier partners have actively participated in defining taxonomy, standardizing data and prioritizing SKUs.

The program is comprised of three parts; however, members can chose ala carte or combine all three:

eContent Services: Think of this part as a central, internal repository for millions of SKUs enhanced for eCommerce and all through one standardized format.

By and large, eContent Services is driven by a Product Information Management portal that provides exports to ERP systems and eCommerce platforms. In addition, a Customer Service Representative portal is a fully searchable interface designed for sales reps to view product on the floor or on the road.

The information within eContent Services stands ready to download, including images, documents and more.

WebStore Services: Think of this as where all the information stored inside eContent Services gets put to use for online sales and marketing to the customer.

Members can chose from a variety of enterprise applications, seamless checkout and multiple storefront templates that directly tie into the eContent Services component of the service.

eCommerce Consultant Services: AD has purposefully hired new talent to help drive the process from inside the organization, and also partnered with expert outside firms. Unilog, for example, has decades of eCommerce expertise and its CIMM2 platform is designed specifically for B2B businesses. B2X Partners helped to launch the AD eCommerce program and can meet distributors and manufacturers where they are, and help to get up to speed from eCommerce strategy to implementation.

The consultant services “reduces the gap between a great opportunity and a great outcome,” Ernst explained.

In particular for the PHCP division, the taxonomy and data model components were wrapped up in mid-September. Some 200,000 SKUs will be incorporated by late November. Training will begin in late-November into early-December with the official PIM launch at some point in late-November.

Currently, there are 39 PHCP wholesaler participants and 300 manufacturers.

For further networking and learning, AD will hold its first annual AD eCommerce Summit, Jan. 23-25 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.

HR Services

AD also promoted its HR Services program designed to help support member strategies for human resources.

Neil Cohen, vice president of organizational development and human resources for AD, began the process by visiting members, conducting an HR survey and reviewing relevant trade associations to determine the type of offering that could supplement what the groups were doing for its members.

The program features four main solutions to HR needs:

  • Recruiting and Employment
  • Training and Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • HR Metrics and Benchmarking

AD connects its members with service providers that are competitively priced or that might otherwise not be accessible to the members on an individual basis. Currently, Cohen says the recruiting and employment suites are the most used.

Last May, AD also hosted its first-ever AD HR Services networking event in Philadelphia, bringing together 17 HR professionals from 12 AD member distributors.

“A big component of AD’s HR Services offering is to provide thought leader/best practice sharing opportunities amongst the AD HR community,” Cohen added. “While we have held many webinars with 100-plus person attendance, we had not previously had an ‘in person’, dedicated event for the people responsible for HR at our member companies to formally learn from thought leaders and from each other.”

Finally,  AD will host its first-ever AD HR Leaders’ Summit, June 15-16 in Chicago, where HR leaders in AD member companies across all AD Divisions can share best practices and hear presentations from HR thought leaders.


Leveraging the collective scale of AD, the organization is conducting different procurement programs to help its members access deep discounts from key commodity products to forklifts. In 2016, for example, 80 percent of the AD PVF Division members participated in the Division’s successful power buys.  

Industry honors

And in other show news, AD held its Spirit of Independence Awards dinner to close out the meeting and honored the following individuals and companies:

2016 Plumbing Member of the Year: Pace Supply Corp.
2016 Plumbing Supplier of the Year: Oatey SCS
2016 Plumbing Conversion of the Year: Bradford White and Keidel; Blackman; Capitol Group; and Valley Supply
2016 PVF Member of the Year: MKS Pipe & Valve Co.
2016 PVF Supplier of the Year: Merit Brass
2016 PVF Conversion of the Year: A.P. Supply and Allied Group
2016 HVAC Member of the Year: Auer Steel Heating Supply Co.
2016 HVAC Supplier of the Year: Honeywell Genesis
2016 HVAC Conversion of the Year: Mingledorff’s Inc. and Johns Manville
2016 Best Field Marketing Summit: Thomas Somerville and The Somerville Kitchen & Bath Stores
2016 Giving Back Award: Southwire

At the start of the awards, AD also gave special recognition for two members for family-run business longevity:

Thomas Somerville for 155 years in business.
F. W.  Webb for 150 years in business.

Young Leaders

This year, AD not only recognized its own AD Young Leaders, but also recognized the “40 under 40” list complied by trade group, the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International:

AD Young Leaders

Stephanie Abeling, Consumers Pipe & Supply   
Tom Avery, Reliance Worldwide     
John Bailey, Kelly Pipe
Jason DeBruer, Basco Shower Enclosures        
Brian DiVincenzo, Oatey Co.  
Greg Eynon, Bradford White
Jake Hester, Kenny Pipe & Supply  
Jack Hurley, Commercial Pipe & Supply Corp.  
Mike Leander, F.W. Webb Co.
Patrick Newland, Hercules Industries      
Christopher Rohling, Jones Stephens       
Reed White, George T. Sanders Co.

2016 HARDI 40 under 40

Brandon Gregory, American Metals        
Chuck Hitchcock, American Metals 
Jose Hauxwell, Shearer Supply
John Newland, Hercules        
Pat Newland, Hercules  
Travis Roach, Robt. Madden
Trevor Piccione,  Aspen        
Brian Neustadt, Neuco  
Dan Lauterhahn, Packard
Kelly Goldsmith, Packard
Women in Industry

AD also recognized 13 women making a difference in the PHCP/PVF industry, including some who were featured in our magazine’s Industry Leading Ladies features:

Stephanie Abeling, Consumers Pipe & Supply
Dixie Buck, Kelly Pipe    
Dalyn Cantrell, Viega
Rebecca Falish, InSinkerator
Karen Fox, Keeney Mfg.
Stacie Frisch, First Supply    
Andi Funk, Cambridge-Lee Industries    
Susan Greenway, American Pipe & Supply
Sharon Lewis Inza, F.W. Webb
Ashley Martin NIBCO INC.
Ingrid Mattsson Uponor
Kathryn Poehling First Supply    
Tiffany Rhen, Penn Machine

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