Las Vegas -- Four successful hardware and home center operators spent an hour on the Village Stage at the National Hardware Show on May 2 sharing their challenges, strategies and future plans with other event attendees. Ranging in size from three to 36 locations, the dealers varied in scope and location but shared common approaches to customer service, the vendor community and pricing.
One of the largest dealers in the group, Rocco Falcone of Rocky’s Ace Hardware, operates 33 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Florida. The family-owned operation has been in business for 85 years. “We service the hell out of our customers,” Falcone said. “The big boxes say they’re going to give good service, but they really don’t.”
Doug Gregory from Morrison Terrebonne Lumber in Louisiana spoke of the special handling his pro customers receive. “Our contractors are very dependent on our guys to help them run their business,” said Gregory, who recently partnered with CNRG. When asked about common misconceptions about his business, Gregory mentioned the perception that smaller independents charge higher prices.
Others agreed. “Our staff also believes that, so I get them out to price shop other stores,” said Ron Cicuttini, who represented three Home Hardware stores in Ontario.
Scott Parker, owner of 18 home centers primarily in Texas, pointed out that his outdoor lumberyards aren’t air conditioned, which lowers his cost of doing business. “We can be very competitive [on price],” he said. But Parker pointed out the necessity of variable pricing and the many factors that go into it.
“What we want to sell a product for is determined by the market, not what we want to sell it for,” Parker said.
All the retailers gave a shout out to their vendors, co-ops and distributors. “If you’re really loyal to your suppliers, they’ll reciprocate,” Cicuttini said. “That’s paid dividends for us.”