DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

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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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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