Drillbrush is proud to announce that we now have kits available in the ACE Hardware warehouse. While we have sold to individual ACE Hardwares in the past, a list of which can be found here, our inclusion in their system means any ACE Hardware store can easily order our products for their shelves.
The four kits that were recently added to ACE are the Medium Yellow 42O kit, the Soft White 542O kit, the Variety 542O kit, and the Soft White 42O-2WRB Pad and Brush combo kit. ACE customers can find Drillbrush products on the site here. Additionally, many of our other kits are available for retailers to drop-ship to their ACE Hardware stores for a more affordable rate.
This alone was already a boon for us as a company, but we were also invited to participate in the ACE Hardware Fall 2022 Convention in Chicago, IL at the McCormick Place Convention Center. This event is attended by ACE Hardware owners around the world, as well as ACE Hardware staff, Emery-Jenson staff, media members, and hundreds of brands looking to show off their products!
Not only were we invited, but we had the honor of being included in ACE’s “New Arrivals” section, which featured debuting brands and new products from established companies.
Today, we’ll go over our performance at the show, as well as shine a light on what it was like to be at the ACE Hardware Convention!
The Trip and Set-up
Our fearless crew.
Our team for the show was composed of four members. CAO Armin Pekmez, CDO Amar Pekmez, Art and Media Department Head John Cittadino, and Salesperson Collin Howard.
We each had our roles and responsibilities. The Pekmez brothers were primarily in charge of manning the booth; talking to ACE owners and other interested parties.
John Cittadino, in addition to creating fliers, banners, and other branded material for the show, was in charge of the Demo Booth, a secondary booth in the New Arrivals section of the convention. He was also to relieve the Pekmez brothers at the booth when they took lunch.
Collin Howard was our man on the move, patrolling the floor, making connections, and talking to people interested in Drillbrush products. He would also assist at the primary booth, as well as the demo booth.
With our plan set, we made our way over to the show.
John at the wheel!
While Collin flew in from Minnesota, the rest of us took the company van from our headquarters in Marcy, NY on an eleven-hour journey across the Great Lakes region of America.
We had initially planned to leave early in the morning on Monday, arrive around 3pm to set up our booth, and rest for the show afterwards. However, our inclusion in the New Arrivals section required us to be there by 11am to deliver our product to the table, so we set off for Chicago on Sunday, driving in shifts throughout the night and arriving in the morning.
The twilight hour of our expedition resulted in few cars on the road, allowing us to avoid the harrowing Cleveland and Chicago traffic that notably chokehold the cities. We skulked down the highway, illuminated only by late-night construction sites and the glow of freshly opened rest stops. The sun rose behind us as we ventured into Indiana traversing the Crossroads of America with ease! We arrived in Chicago ahead of schedule at 8am and began to unpack the van.
The impressive-looking ACE sign at the show.
McCormick Place, the host for the convention, was massive. The multi-floor facility was large enough to hold the entire neighborhood I grew up in with hallways and corridors creating a web of hotels and parking garages.
It was such a large facility that we as a team became lost upon arrival, searching high and low for the entrance to the show floor. Luckily, we invested in two large carts to transport our set-up materials, so the extra walking didn’t result in extra lugging around. After wheeling our supplies into many conference rooms we shouldn’t have been in, we eventually found the third-floor entrance to the show floor and got to work setting up the booth.
We had plenty of print assets to work with, including three retractable banners, a custom tablecloth, and a whiteboard for writing daily messages. It took some assembly, but we got our booth looking professional and dropped off our wares to the New Arrivals table. After we were done setting up, we met with Collin, dug into a delicious deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s and took a well-deserved rest for the show ahead.
Our first day at the show!
The trade show opened and we eagerly waited to see what kind of traction the Drillbrush booth would get.
On our table, we had the four kits available through ACE with scannable codes affixed to the top. The codes were provided by the show and allowed retailers to order inventory immediately through their phone by scanning them with a special app. We also had fliers and catalogs with product and contact information for retailers to take, a monitor playing footage of our brushes in action, and drills, brushes, and tiling for demonstrations.
We were incredibly happy with the response from ACE retailers. Many came to our booth relieved that we were finally in the ACE Warehouse, as according to them, customers have been requesting our products for years. Armin and Amar did an excellent job providing prospective retailers with relative information, concise product details, and accurate answers to their questions.
Collin with our New Arrivals!
At the demo booth, our stack of scannable boxes received more traffic than the booth itself. Most retailers saw the value in our products right away without needing to speak with us, so we didn’t have to do much for our pitch. For those that did stop by the booth, John laid down the basics on what a Drillbrush is and showed the brush in action on a Chicago Bulls car mat we brought with us to honor the host city.
Meanwhile, Collin walked the floor and hung out by our display in the New Arrivals section, addressing their questions and comments on the spot and collecting some business cards along the way!
Maximum Destruction at the Super Glue booth!
The rest of the show was especially lively, with a plethora of interesting things to see. Some went all out, like Super Glue who had the popular Monster Jam monster truck Max-D at their booth, as well as scheduled meet-and-greets with Scooby-Doo driver Linsey Read. The Bulbhead booth also had their spokesman and Home Improvement actor Richard Karn at the event.
A wide variety of companies were featured, from cleaning companies like Zep and The Pink Stuff, to tool companies like Milwaukee and Craftsman, and even some booths for less expected industries, like LEGO wholesaler Toyhouse and disc golf manufacturer Dynamic Discs.
The day ended and the team visited local sandwich shop Steve’s Bites and dug into some tasty subs! We turned in afterwards, resting up for the long day ahead of us tomorrow.
Day 2 at the booth!
The second day of the convention was a long one; ten hours to be exact. More seasoned vendors informed us that most ACE personal spend the first day scouting out potential prospects and the second day treading back to the booths they found most interesting to make a final decision.
Fortunately for us, we must have been on many store-owner's radars, as the Drillbrush booth was packed all day. The Pekmez brothers reportedly talked to a few hundred people, the single-day most for the week. Our supply of catalogs finally ran out and we burned through our stockpile of sample kits, necessitating a trip to the van to pick up more inventory.
Collin scrubbing a Chicago Bulls car mat at the Demo Booth.
At the New Arrivals booth, things went just as well as the whir of our drill enticed passersby to see what the commotion was. John answered many retailer questions while Collin performed demos and chatted with people who visited the Drillbrush display nearby. Other than the intense aroma of the Dan O’s Seasonings booth making us hungry for lunch, the performance went off without a hitch, and netted us more interested ACE stores.
Following a successful second day, most of the Drillbrush team went out for some Italian cuisine, while John met with a longtime friend from the area at Taureaux Tavern.
Our last day of the show!
The final day of the show was unlike the prior two. The hustle and bustle of ACE Hardware managers rushing to stock their stores with exciting new inventory reduced to a trickle, as most had already come to their decisions in the prior days, leaving only a few owners to pull the trigger on a last-minute final purchase.
Instead, the quieted atmosphere allowed for ACE staff, guests, and other vendors to peruse the showfloor and converse with booths that caught their eye.
At our booth, as a special treat for those attending on the final day, we ramped up the number of free sample kits we were handing out. These offers were extended to everyone at the show, from managers and vendors, to guests and even the custodial staff. While not as visited as on the previous two days, our booth still managed to rake in quite a few interested parties and we continued to make connections.
Just a sliver of what was at the show!
The New Arrivals section was quiet, with most having already experienced the novelty of the debuting items. Our Demo Booth appearance, the last of the day, wrapped up with a handful of visiting groups and one final demonstration. Following the allotted time, salesman Collin left to board his flight home.
With few staying around for the final hours of the show, we discussed the week’s events with our friends in the neighboring Zep and Wyld Gear booths as the clock wound down.
Teardown and Aftermath
See you in San Antonio (maybe.)
At 2:00pm on the dot, the convention center collectively began tearing down their booths. Having unloaded most of our complimentary kits, we had far fewer items to pack than what we had to unload at the start of the week. This didn’t keep us from making a few more contacts with vendors and staff while we broke everything down, and we managed to hand out a few more samples in the process.
We brought the van around, loaded up our supplies, and made our way out of the Windy City, jockeying through the treacherous mid-day traffic. Stopping only for fuel and a delightful visit to Waffle House, we made the long journey home. At 4:30am, we returned to the Drillbrush campus and concluded our trip.
Chicago or Brush!
We want to thank the folks at ACE Hardware for inviting us to the show, as well as all of the retailers, vendors, and staff who stopped by our booth. Everyone was very nice and offered a lot of positive feedback on our products, as well as some areas where we can improve.
If you are an ACE retailer who couldn’t make the show or missed our booth and are interested in carrying Drillbrush products, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat with us.
If you’re a shopper who wants your local ACE Hardware to sell our products, let them know you’re interested. If there’s one thing we learned from our time at the show, it’s that ACE retailers care about and listen to their customers.