Knoxville, Tennessee-based House-Hasson added sales staff in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana to serve the company’s existing independent hardware store dealers and to grow its business in those states, the company said.
Don Hasson, president of the 110-year-old family-owned company, said that with the number of acquisition prospects dwindling, growing “the old-fashioned way” is the company’s strategy for the future.
Currently, the distributor serves more than 2,000 dealers in 18 states and the Caribbean region.
“For a number of years we were able to make strategic acquisitions that brought about substantial growth in dealers and sales,” Hasson said. “We weren’t the only ones in that hunt. The outcome is that, today there are very few, if any, independent hardware distributors that present strong acquisition opportunities.”
House-Hasson has carried out five acquisitions since 1988, the most recent of which was the 2015 purchase of Long-Lewis Hardware of Birmingham, Ala., which resulted in a new regional manager; 10 new sales staff members; and 150, 18-wheeler truckloads of merchandise coming into the House-Hasson fold.
“Such large infusions of territory, staff, and goods just aren’t in the cards in today’s environment,” Hasson said. “We’re taking another path.”
House-Hasson is beefing up its sales staff in high growth potential areas, he said. So far, new salesman additions are one in Florida from Tampa to the panhandle, one in the western portion of Pennsylvania, and three working western Louisiana.
“We always have our eye toward the northern U.S. because that’s been our best growth region for a long time,” Hasson said. “At the same time, Florida’s size is an attraction; from a hardware and lumberyard standpoint it’s almost like a country. Louisiana is a market that we expect will be very productive.”
He said the bankruptcy and sale of a smaller competitor that worked in Louisiana has opened the door to acquiring new customers.
“Hiring salesmen who know and understand the markets is a key ingredient to building business in every state,” Hasson said. “The number of our sales staff varies over time; today it’s about 70. They’re not order-takers: they’re consultants working with dealers to build their stores’ profitability.”
House-Hasson dealer customers include Trustworthy Hardware stores, independent hardware stores and lumber yards, Sentry Hardware stores, and Priced Right Everyday stores.