The Top 300: A noble effort

Not to pick on Fortune Magazine — after all, I want to be a billionaire someday, too — but who couldn’t come up with a list of 500 publicly traded companies? Not to disparage our competitor’s fine work, but their Fortune 500 issue almost writes itself. All they really need is Google and a spreadsheet.

Not so with the Home Channel News Industry Scoreboard — focused on the performance of the Top 300 Retailers in the home improvement and building materials industries. You can count the publicly traded companies on your two hands. The rest of the data is tucked away in desk drawers or computer files, and we have to get it or figure out a reasonable approximation. 

Our list is a joint effort between Home Channel News and Tampa, Fla.-based research firm Chain Store Guide. The process began in earnest in February and involved countless phone calls, emails and then more phone calls and emails.

Luckily, most people in positions of power and trust at hardware stores, home centers and LBM dealers support our cause. They answer our questions. And we thank them.

Some things have changed with our list in 2011.

1) We tightened it.

The Top 500 Industry Scoreboard is now the Top 300 Industry Scoreboard. Why? To borrow from the noble Roman Brutus: “It’s not that we loved companies ranked 301 to 500 less, but that we loved companies ranked 1 to 300 more.” 

We feel that putting the focus on the Top 300 was a better use of time and resources that would allow higher-quality editorial overall. In fact, our Top 500, Top 350 and Top 150 Scoreboard series is now the Top 300, Top 200 and Top 100 — all more focused on the top.

2) We kicked off Wal-Mart Stores.

Again to borrow from Brutus: “As Wal-Mart Stores sold paint and home improvement, we honor them. But as they sold apparel and groceries, we removed them.”

Listing Wal-Mart — and also Sears and Kmart — along with the specific home channel companies was problematic on a number of fronts. The employee counts and sales figures skewed our benchmarking, or reduced them to weak estimates.

Our Top 300 should be focused on retailers squarely in the home channel, because that’s what we do. 

3) We put it on the Web. 

On pages 21 through 26, you will find the first 100 of our retailers. The complete Top 300 list resides at All you have to do is register, then read. It’s that simple. 

Some things haven’t changed. Our goal is to make each list better than the prior year’s list. And we want our Scoreboard to be the biggest and best of its kind. Again with the Brutus: “We pause for your reply via email.” 

— Ken Clark

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