Ace lands a big, new member
ACO Hardware, a 52-store chain described as Michigan’s largest independent home and hardware retailer, will join the Ace Hardware brand.
Based in Farmington Hills, Mich., ACO will operate the new Ace Hardware stores under the name Great Lakes Ace, a nod to the retailer’s Michigan roots. ACO was originally founded in 1946 as Traskos Brothers Hardware Depot in Dearborn, Mich. All of the company’s stores are in Michigan.
In making the move, the retailer is also returning to its hardware roots — as home improvement was de-emphasized in a 2011 strategy to embrace a general merchandise format.
In May, ACO closed 14 underperforming stores. And the move to Ace represents a shift to get back into the hardware-store arena.
The transition to Ace will take place over a six-month period, according to the co-op. At that point all stores will have reopened as Ace Hardware branded stores.
“Last year, we committed to our customers that we would invest and grow our business,” said Mark VandenBerg, CFO, ACO Hardware. “Ace Hardware offers our stores a world-class brand, top-notch merchandise opportunities and a supply chain network second to none.”
As part of its transition, ACO retained SB Capital Group to clear existing inventory through special sale events. A group of 26 stores are slated to begin “Total Inventory Blowout Sales” on Jan. 8.
The locations of this group of sales are: Auburn Hills, Brighton, Center Line, Clarkston, Clawson, Clinton Township, Farmington Hills, Highland, Lake Orion, Macomb, Milford, Port Huron, Rochester Hills, Roseville, Royal Oak, St. Clair Shores (2), Shelby Township, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Union Lake, Warren (3) and Waterford (2).
It remains unclear when the second transition cycle will begin.
Ace names new chief for Westlake
Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware appointed a new chief for Westlake Ace Hardware, the 85-store Midwestern chain.
Tom Knox, 59, was named president and CEO of Westlake, which is owned by the co-op — and which is also the co-op’s largest member. Knox wil be leaving his role as VP retail business development, training and supply at Ace’s corporate offices and take on his new role in Lenexa, Kan.
Knox will replace George Smith, who had served as CEO of Westlake Ace Hardware before the retailer was purchased by the co-op, and remained at the helm afterwards. Ace Hardware purchased Westlake for some $88 million in late 2012 from the retailer’s previous owner, the private equity firm Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison.
Westlake Ace was named "Retailer of the Year" by Home Channel News in 2011.
Don Wolf earns Sachem Award
Indiana Governor Mike Pence presented the Sachem Award to Don Wolf, the longtime president and CEO of Do it Best Corp., at an event in Fort Wayne last week.
As Indiana’s highest honor, the Sachem Award is presented to only one resident of the State of Indiana each year and it recognizes its recipient for displaying an exemplary, sustained combination of virtue, moral example, business success and career achievement. Pence presented the award to Wolf in front of 300-plus family, friends and community leaders at a ceremony at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
“Don exemplifies everything the Sachem Award stands for and, just as importantly, what it means to be a Hoosier,” Pence said. ““It is more than his notable achievements in business that make Don Wolf worthy of Indiana’s highest honor – it is his character, his selflessness, his generous nature and his unwavering commitment to serving his neighbor. He lives the traits that we Hoosiers hold dear, and he personifies the principles of servant leadership.”
Wolf served as president and CEO of Do it Best Corp. for 25 years and is one of Indiana’s most renowned and accomplished philanthropists and community supporters of numerous non-profit and charity organizations, including the founding of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Study Connection in Fort Wayne. Other dignitaries at the event included Do it Best Corp. President Emeritus Mike McClelland and current President and CEO Bob Taylor.
“It is a humbling experience to be recognized by the governor with this award and to be joined by so many in doing so today,” added Wolf. “I worked to set an example for others in both my professional and personal life, and it is a wonderful feeling to see that those efforts have a lasting impact on our community and our state.”
The governor personally selects the Sachem Award recipient each year. The award traces its origins to 1970, when then-governor Edgar D. Whitcomb created the “Confederacy of the Sachem,” in 1970, an organization comprised of a group of business, industry, publishing, banking and legal leaders, who served as state hosts, welcoming visitors and promoting the state’s culture and economy.
The Sachem project dissolved in 1989, but was revived in 2005 by Governor Mitch Daniels, who recreated the Sachem to underscore the importance of moral example; achievement alone without exemplary virtue does not qualify a person for the award.
Previous recipients include legendary basketball coach John Wooden; Ian M. Rolland, former chairman and CEO of Lincoln National Corp.; Bill Cook, leader, innovator and philanthropist; and Carl Erskine, former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player.