Indianapolis -- Rich Lynch, who was named VP of marketing for Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best Corp. back in March, said he learned some valuable lessons about retail from his teenage years as a hardware store employee -- and also from his years as a marketing executive for Jim Beam.
Lynch met with the media here during the co-op's May Market. And with the words "helping members grow" stitched into his shirt sleeve, he talked about the importance of staying ahead of society's online movement and balancing all the "ingredients" of a successful hardware store.
"At Jim Beam, my experience helped me understand that brand matters," he said -- not just for product, but for local retail brand names in the communities they serve.
From his youth as a hardware store worker, Lynch said his old store manager's emphasis on the initials "HI SAM" continue to loom large in his understanding of retail. They stand for "have I sold additional merchandise."
Lynch has more than 25 years of experience in the retail, home-improvement and co-op industries, and he has held the position of Do it Best retail marketing director since 2011. His resume also includes management positions at Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware.
He said one challenge for the co-op and its retailers is to adapt faster to the increasingly important online world.
The web is one of six keys to marketing a store in today's world, he said. The others: loyalty, advertising, store design, social media and in-store environments. "These are not six stand alone ingredients," he said "They all work together."
While Amazon and other online retailers represent another serious challenge to traditional retail, there is an opportunity to join them in the online game, he said, by using the power of the co-op's distribution centers. Now, if a store doesn't have an item a customer asked for, the store can get it.
"Amazon has conditioned consumers to wait, unless something is leaking," he said. "The message should be: 'If we don't have an item it in the store, then we'll get it for you.'"
Also from the press conference, Lynch said there were 200 Signature Store Design projects underway throughout the co-op's membership.