Maytag University Back in Session

First meeting in three years points to new ways to maximize potential

By Andy Kriege, YSN

BrandSource’s Maytag Channel reconvened in person last week for the first time in three years.

The event, held at Whirlpool’s Brandywine Creek Conference Center in Covert, Mich., marked the first on-site conclave since 2019, when COVID concerns kept the Whirlpool-exclusive dealer contingent apart.

Channel members were anxious to reconnect, take in the meeting’s educational opportunities, and exchange ideas among themselves, all in a concerted effort to help navigate an increasingly challenging retail environment.

The event did not disappoint. According to Missy Hodges, Whirlpool’s Manager of Sales & Operations for Buying Groups, there was ample opportunity to gather new ideas and strategies but also to have fun. “We had a full agenda that included sessions on employee retention, logistics and process improvement, and were able to finish each evening with our first-ever Maytag Olympics,” she said. “Our expectations were to have some fun, learn and interact with others, and we achieved them all.”

Whirlpool’s Missy Hodges directs an exercise in which members share their thoughts on the changing nature of business.

The meeting kicked off with an opportunities workshop designed to identify which elements of members’ businesses are working, which aren’t, and what changes dealers need to make to be more successful.  

Another session, which Hodges considered the most impactful, focused on identifying changes in retail.  “The dealers split into small groups and shared what has changed the most in their business and then reported back to the larger group,” she told YSN. “It was very insightful.”

Another highlight of Maytag University was the participation of former Whirlpool sales exec Mark Hecht, who was persuaded to come out of retirement to conduct some of the trainings. “It was great to see all the dealers finally back together after a long absence,” he said, “and to witness the enthusiasm they all had for making their businesses better. What makes this channel and Maytag University such an outstanding event is the collaboration and sharing of ideas between the members, and they certainly did that.”

Hecht was impressed by the interaction of the members as well as the substance of the sessions. “Missy did a great job on the agenda, bringing in speakers that reinforced the general theme that business has changed, and that dealers need to look at new ideas and new ways of doing things to maximize their potential.”

Retired Whirlpool exec Mark Hecht reprises his instructor role during a training session.

Also on hand was former Maytag Channel officer and current AVB staffer Rich Lindblom, who led a series of University sessions.

The agenda included several workshops where the dealers developed their own ideas on how to tackle the changing retail environment. As a follow-up, each attendee will receive a complete list of the literally hundreds of great ideas the group came up with to make their businesses stronger.

 “I think working together as a group was very beneficial and I’m sure it will help many of the members be more successful in their own businesses,” Hecht added. “I have a lot of great friends in BrandSource, and it was so good to see many of them attend Maytag U again.”

David Jones, owner of Jones Appliance & TV in Iowa Falls. Iowa, agreed, and believes the location, the agenda, and the enthusiasm of the group made last week’s Maytag U the best he ever attended. “Maytag U is by far the most meaningful event that I attend every year,” he noted. “We stay totally focused on ways to make our businesses better and nothing else.”

Jones found the presentations on improving add-on sales and finding and retaining employees especially beneficial, as was the comradery.  “I really enjoyed the time we had to connect and socialize in the evening,” he said.

Evenings offered an opportunity to kick back and catch up by the fire after a long day of workshops.

To Paul Roth, BrandSource’s Director of Merchandising, “The vibe was positive, professional, and interactive. Members seemed focused on getting the most out of each training session,” he said, “and Whirlpool did a good job of breaking up the training with fun competitions to build rapport and have fun.”

We guess that makes it unanimous — all in attendance agreed that the long awaited 2022 Maytag University was in a class by itself.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture, and CE dealers.