DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Ace launches Supply Place for B2B sales

BY Ken Clark

Pointing to the importance of business-to-business sales, Ace Hardware launched a new brand for small business supply customers.

The new brand is called "The Supply Place, Powered by Ace." It is designed to attract sales among customer types including schools, churches, restaurants, apartment managers and general contractors. The co-op believes a separate brand that speaks directly to business customers will aid a store’s ability to reach this market segment, which spends more than the normal DIY customer ($47 vs. $20 on average).

The program includes a certification process for all Ace retailers that want to use the Supply Place brand. In addition to the new brand, the program includes an e-commerce component that will allow stores to manage the pricing and the relationship with their small business customers.

The co-op pointed to the importance of end caps that promote a store’s ability to supply business customers. Among the optional endcaps — Gojo Hand cleaners, Clorox bleach, WD-40, and florescent tube lighting.

According to John Venhuizen, who will step into the role of CEO at the end of March, a common denominator of a successful and lucrative Ace stores is "a meaningful portion of sales from small business. Retailers who take advantage of the business-to-business opportunities are winning," he said. 

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Ace unveils vision for Valspar

BY Ken Clark

New Orleans — With the ink still wet on the Valspar-Ace Hardware deal, Ace retailers got their first look at Ace’s vision for its Valspar paint departments. The vision includes a pair of endcaps and 8-ft. color displays featuring Clark & Kensington on one side and Valspar on the other. In between the rests a counter, mixing equipment and an overhead "Color comes home" message.

Valspar and Ace employees were busy answering questions, showing colors and generally promoting the new program, which is expected to deploy in October. They also spread the word of Clark & Kensington’s No. 1 ranking in the recent Consumer Reports article on interior paint. 

The deployment will precede a marketing effort — a paint grand opening — that Ace VP paint John Surane, described as "our biggest national event ever." Surane also raised the goal for Ace paint — to reach 10% market share in 10 years, double its current share.

Retailers on the floor who spoke to HCN ran the gamut from those who embrace the change enthusiastically, to those who want to stay with their existing brands, notably Benjamin Moore.

Incentives are in place to reset the stores, both in terms of product and fixtures. And Ace says that with Valspar it will have a national brand partner with all of the national marketing support that comes with it. It will also allow stores to operate with a single tint machine.

"We as a team recognize that there are a thousand scenarios out there in your paint department," said Surane, speaking at the convention’s general session. "We’re ready to work with you on that."   

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Ace show kicks off with a send-off for Griffith

BY Ken Clark

New Orleans — Ace Hardware CEO Ray Griffith, who will step down as CEO in late March, gave his last general session talk to the collected membership of the co-op.

"I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working with all of you and helping entrepreneurs achieve success and wealth," Griffith added. "How cool is that … to work for a meaningful company with an honorable purpose?" 

As previously announced, John Venhuizen — a 20-year veteran of Ace — will replace Griffith as CEO at the end of March.

Griffith was CEO of Ace for eight years, and his Ace career has 19 years. 

Griffith was introduced to the stage by Ace Hardware chairman Dave Ziegler, who presented Griffith with the inaugural "Ray Griffith Leadership Award." The award was created to recognize "outstanding commitment," "unquestionable integrity" and "passion" for the business.

Upon accepting the award, Griffith — who received two standing ovations during his presentation — joked: "I wish I was half this good."

Venhuizen, currently president and COO of Ace, said: "I don’t plan to fill Ray’s shoes. Those are shoes you don’t fill."

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