DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

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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Ace Hardware honors its Vendors of the Year

BY Ken Clark

Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware Corp. will present “Vendors of the Year” awards at its upcoming 2013 Spring Convention & Exhibits in New Orleans.

The seven vendors were selected based on superior commitment and service to the hardware cooperative, its retailers and customers, according to Ace.

The award winners are:

  • 3L Industries, the Ace Hardware International Vendor of the Year, based in Northfield, Ill., a leading manufacturer of innovative cleaning products;
  • Apex Tool Group, a foremost manufacturer of tools and hardware, as well as a leading supplier of chain and builders hardware, based in Sparks, Md;
  • Leviton, a premier supplier of electrical wiring products, energy management and lighting controls and surge protection solutions, based in Melville, N.Y.; 
  • Lonza, the supplier of Arch Chemicals, a leading supplier of products for Ace’s pool niche, based in Switzerland;
  • ShurTech Brands, a top supplier of do-it-yourself, office and housewares products, based in Avon, Ohio; and
  • United Industries, a leading manufacturer of value-brand consumer products for the home, lawn and garden insect and weed control markets, based in St. Louis.

In addition, Huntersville, N.C.-based Irwin Tools, a leading manufacturer and distributor of hand tools and power tool accessories, was recognized as the Ace Hardware Foundation Vendor of the Year. In 2012, Irwin Tools helped raise more than $60,000 for the Ace Foundation to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. 

 “These esteemed vendors consistently demonstrate their commitment to excellence by providing Ace with best-in-class service, innovative new products and dynamic promotional opportunities,” said Ken Goodgame, general merchandise manager for Ace Hardware. “With the support of vendors like these, Ace is able to fulfill its promise to be the most helpful hardware stores on the planet.”

Ace’s Spring Convention runs Feb. 21-23.

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True Value Co. engages outside branding firms

BY Ken Clark

Chicago, Ill.-based True Value Co. has added two new agency partners, Solve and Morningstar Communications, to expand “the breadth of its marketing and communications teams,” the co-op announced. 

True Value said the moves mark the beginning of enhanced branding initiatives for the hardware cooperative in 2013.

The company hired Solve, a Minneapolis-based branding and advertising company, to develop a brand position founded on True Value’s history and independent-owner base. Solve’s responsibilities include leading brand strategy and planning, as well as multimedia planning and buying. Solve’s original brand work for True Value Company is set to launch this spring. 

“Solve brings actionable insights on our emerging, self-engaged customer group and a powerful creative platform to the table,” said Blake Fohl, VP marketing and chief customer officer for True Value Co. 

Morningstar Communications, a Kansas City-based strategic communications and public relations agency, will focus its efforts in the areas of business-to-business strategic communications, public relations and media relations.

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