Ten Years Of HBT Celebrated At Conference

A record number of retail members and suppliers attended the 2007 National Conference of Hardware & Building Traders held in Adelaide recently.

Conference MC Frank Bottomley remarked that the conference was held in Adelaide to celebrate the establishment of HBT in South Australia almost two years ago. The group now has 21 stores in South Australia.

HBT celebrated ten years in business with a highly successful and enjoyable conference. The group’s conferences are now widely acknowledged as the friendliest and most informal in the industry. “We work very hard on keeping everything real, no BS, no corporate stuff. We just try to add value and friendship for all the stakeholders at these events,” said Group Manager, Tim Starkey.

The group is quite upbeat at the moment with membership growing strongly (over 15% since the 2006 conference) and business growth satisfactory in a difficult (NSW) market. Group purchases for calendar 2006 were up 13.9% over Calendar 2005.

This year’s conference was a milestone in another way. “This was our first time at a convention centre rather than just a hotel venue,” said Starkey. “With our growth there is no other way we can do these now. I mentioned to the delegates that just six conferences ago our trade show was nine trestle tables in the bar. We had 98 stands at this year’s trade show.”

The conference featured a keynote address from John Anderson, the founder of Contiki Tours, which inspired and moved everyone in the audience. Fascinating presentations were also delivered by John Stanley of John Stanley Associates and Barry Porter from Porters Home & Building Centre in Mackay.

In the opening session the “Best Supporting Store” Award, aka “The Golden Brick” was awarded to Penhalluriack’s Building Supplies of Caulfield, Vic. In presenting the award to Carmel Menara from Penhalluriack’s, Starkey praised the consistent support and assistance from this member over the last few years.

To mark the passing of its first ten years of operation, HBT presented a commemorative plaque to each of the 42 members and suppliers who had joined the group in 1997 and have continued with them in an unbroken relationship to this day. For the eight member stores who shared nearly $65,000 in cash prizes, the draw for the 2006 Supplier Support Program (SSP) was a big highlight. This draw took place at the gala dinner for almost 600 guests, which concluded the conference.

The SSP is HBT’s unique program designed to foster support amongst its members for the suppliers who participate. Basically, the members get tickets in a cash draw based on how many of the suppliers they actually do business with during the program period. The suppliers contribute the basic cash pool and then HBT tops it up based on the growth in the business they enjoy. It’s become quite an institution for the group.

The gala dinner concluded with a lovely speech by ten year old Alex Coates from Bathurst NSW, who is one month older than HBT. “We just couldn’t think of a better person to mark the passing of our first ten years and to cut the cake,” said Starkey. Alex said she had been to nearly every HBT conference and she hoped to be invited back to cut the cake at the twenty year conference. “Who else but HBT would get a ten year old girl to close their conference,” one dinner guest was overheard to remark.

HBT wish to publicly acknowledge the contribution of all conference sponsors without whom the event would not be possible.