CEO points to the value of feedback

True Value billings, year by year

True Value set a couple of records in 2016. The co-op’s members completed 101 remodels throughout the year, a 30% jump on its second most active remodeling year. Not only that: 68 new True Value stores opened from scratch. All told, the co-op gained about 1.5 million sq. ft. of modern retail space.

That kind of growth wouldn’t have happened without feedback from members, said CEO John Hartmann, who said the co-op responded to suggestions to make the Destination True Value store design concept more flexible and accessible to members.

Feedback is playing out in other areas, too. The co-op’s Customized True Blue assortments, which launched two years ago, are showing a clear impact on sales, he said. Sales at stores that participate in CTB are up about 5% over non-participating stores. The merchandise assortments grew out of a need to recognize more factors than small, medium and large. “We don’t want to just look at the size of the store,” Hartmann said. “We want to look at its urbanicity. Is it rural, suburban or urban? And, on top of that, we add marketplace data spend patterns into assortment, truly customizing them.”

Last year, the co-op sold 11,000 individual CTB assortments. In 2017, the co-op is on pace to sell 20,000.

And when it comes to competing with the modern giants of home improvement and the innovators of Silicon Valley, listening will play a major role again.

“Regardless of how I feel about Amazon, what really matters is what our retailers are doing to satisfy what the consumer wants,” Hartmann said. “And if I am actively listening and I’m crafting solutions both in my small format store […] and complementing that with the right omnichannel solutions, then I sleep really well at night knowing I can compete effectively in today’s marketplace.”

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