You know I really enjoy getting out of my office and visiting the great businesses that make up our industry nationwide. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I had the opportunity to attend Pondliner.com’s Spring Kickoff event in Shawnee, Oklahoma. What an amazing place that is. If you are not familiar with Pondliner.com, they are a division of Unit Liner Company and a wholesale distributor of pond supplies about 30 outside of Oklahoma City. They also have a superb retail outlet, The Pond Pro Shop, at that location. All in all they employ over 70 full time staff members, half of which are in the ponds division.
They regularly hold seminars and training events at their location. To overcome the challenges of the weather they have constructed an indoor training facility. Inside this facility they can do a complete pond build. The 40′ x 60′ raised fenced dirt platform, that they affectionately call the Pond Pit, (see photo to get the idea) allows them to bring in a small excavator and dig a hole any size and shape they want, build up a waterfall berm, then drop in a liner, build a waterfall and plumb it all up – all regardless of the weather.
The indoor facility is used to train Wholesale customers and for Pond Pro Shop to host educational events for do-it yourselfers year-round. They often bring in factory reps and outside pond builders to participate. This gives attendees the opportunity to meet other pros and get hands on demonstrations on how the latest products are meant to be used and installed.
At the Spring Kickoff there were 16 manufacturers there showing off their wares (Fishmate, Fielding Pump, OASE, Savio, Little Giant, EG Danner, Sequence, Mars Fishcare, Winston, Atlantic, Kasco, Firestone, Ecological Laboratories and Evolution Pump). Over 100 contractors and retailers, who made the trek for the two-day event, greeted them – and that’s with ice and snow on the roads no less.
Beyond the pond build, attendees received a full days worth of presentations on the ins and outs of pond construction and equipment demonstrations.
I believe the effort put forth by the Pondliner.com team is a real testament to their commitment to this industry, and their desire for their trade and retail customers to be successful in their pond endeavors. Events like this cost money, particularly with how well they fed us for the two days. Hopefully, it pays off in customer loyalty, new customer acquisition, and increased sales by virtue of the knowledge and experience taken home and put to use by the participants.
The role distributors play in our industry is sometimes overlooked and under appreciated, but I would hate to think of where we would be without them. They facilitate the flow of the products we need to do our business, and help keep us informed and up-to-date on what’s hot, what’s coming, and how to deal with problems when they arise.
Next time you are on the phone to Pondliner.com, or whatever distributor you buy from, take a moment and get to know the person on the other end of the phone line. You might just realize you have more in common with them than you thought, and that makes everyone’s job that much easier and more enjoyable.