Las Vegas — Four years ago, Larry Stone sat in the audience at a Golden Hammer Awards ceremony, while his friend and colleague Robert Strickland, chairman emeritus of Lowe’s Cos., entered the Home Channel Hall of Fame.
Last month, in the same banquet room at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Stone followed in Strickland’s footsteps, entering the Hall of Fame after 42 years at Lowe’s, and a career that began in the mailroom of the nation’s second-largest home center.
With a stirring induction from his longtime Lowe’s colleague Greg Bridge-ford, Stone entered the Home Channel Hall of Fame during the National Hardware Show.
Addressing Stone from the podium, Bridgeford said: “I speak for your co-workers when I say we greatly admire you for what you were able to do and accomplish in 42 years, but we love you for how much you care. That’s the best legacy I think anyone can ever leave.”
The Hall of Fame induction of Stone was one of the highlights of the 27th annual Golden Hammer Awards, a Home Channel News event held in conjunction with the National Hardware Show.
According to Bridgeford, a 30-year colleague of Stone at Lowe’s, the new Hall of Famer always led by example, trying to be the best he could at any position he was assigned. His colleagues called him “the soul of Lowe’s” and a man whose three- to four-hour store walk-throughs are considered a masters course in home improvement retailing.
“Whatever job Larry took you always saw two predominant behaviors, first an obsession to understand the challenge of the position and what he needed to learn to succeed,” Bridgeford said. “The second is an incredible drive to be the best at whatever challenge he took on.”
In his acceptance speech, Stone listed the five traits he considered essential to leadership:
• Authenticity: “Never try to be someone you’re not. Let people see the true you every day.”
• Treat people the way you want to be treated: “Know what’s important to your people.”
• Passion: “As a leader, you cast a big shadow. Be passionate about your company.”
• Be a team player: “Give your support and leadership to your team.”
• Integrity: “Your integrity will last long after you’re gone.”
“I didn’t start in the mailroom and think, ‘Well, someday I could be president.’ But I did set goals,” said Stone, who also described his career as an adventure. “I hope I had a positive impact on the industry, because the industry and Lowe’s have had a tremendous impact on me,” he said.
In kicking off the induction ceremony, John Shields of MSA Safety Works, the event sponsor, described Stone as an extremely worthy inductee. “For his amazing rise through the ranks, and for his tremendous success at Lowe’s, and for the impact he has had on the people he’s worked with, and the industry as a whole, Larry Stone deserves a place in the Home Channel Hall of Fame,” he said.
Some 150 retailers and other industry leaders attended the breakfast event, which also included the Golden Hammer Retail Winner panel.