DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Co-op buys Westlake Ace Hardware

BY Ken Clark

Ace Hardware Corp. acquired Lenexa, Kan.-based Westlake Ace Hardware for $88 million.

Westlake was named the HCN 2011 Retailer of the Year, and was featured in the May 2011 issue of Home Channel News. Since 2006, the company was owned by a private equity firm — Goldner Hawn Johnson and Morrison. 

According to Ace Hardware, the agreement became official for business beginning Dec. 17. Under the deal, Ace becomes the sole owner of the 85-store chain located in 33 Midwest and Sunbelt markets.

Westlake Ace Hardware was founded in 1905 and became part of the Ace co-op in 1959.  

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Ace turns to Valspar, away from Ben Moore

BY Brae Canlen

Ace Hardware is in the final stages of inking a deal that will replace Benjamin Moore, its signature national brand, with a program from Valspar paint, HCN has learned.

“We can confirm that we signed an agreement with Ace, [and] we expect the transaction to close by the end of the calendar year,” said Mark Goldman, VP corporate communications for Valspar. Because the deal is not final, Goldman said he could not comment on the details of the program, including whether Ace’s two paint manufacturing plants are part of the negotiations.

When contacted by HCN, Kate Kirkpatrick, a spokeswoman for Ace, said: “We cannot disclose any information since we have not closed on the agreement yet.”

One person was free to talk about proposed change, however. Edward Klein, senior VP strategy and retailing for Benjamin Moore, told HCN that his company wanted to stay with its “selective distribution” business model. Ace, on the other hand, “[wanted] a national brand that they could sell in all their stores.”

“We’re committed to retailers who are committed to paint,” explained Klein, who helped set up the initial program with Ace in 2005. Klein estimated that Benjamin Moore currently supplies 1,400 to 1,500 of Ace’s dealers, which number approximately 4,000.

These Ace/Ben Moore dealers received a Dec. 7 letter signed by Klein and three other company executives pledging to continue the program. “We are more than prepared to work with these retailers on a direct basis,” Klein said. “We’re evaluating ways to supply them and handle shipping to smaller stores.”

Benjamin Moore also recently struck a deal to supply paint to San Jose, Calif.-based Orchard Supply Hardware. And at the recent True Value Fall Market, Benjamin Moore had a booth where it promoted a billing arrangement with True Value retailers.

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At Do it Best, promotion for Randolph

BY Ken Clark

Do it Best Corp. promoted of Don Randolph to the position of retail performance manager.

In his new role, Randolph will oversee and lead co-op efforts in aiding the growth and improvement of member stores through enhancement of retail performance programs. 

Randolph is a nearly 10-year veteran of Do it Best Corp., serving as a territory sales and business development manager in the southwestern United States. 

“I am very excited about this opportunity to help our members continue to grow their businesses through our outstanding Retail Performance programs,” Randolph said, in a prepared statement.

His extensive experience prior to joining Do it Best Corp. includes owning his own outdoor power equipment sales and service store, as well as positions in outside sales for several independent wholesale hardware companies in Arizona. He’s a native of Edinburgh, Ind., where he grew up in the family hardware store, Randolph Hardware Co. 

“Don is someone who’s lived and breathed this industry for a long time, which is a big part of why he’s been such a solid performer on our team,” said Jay Brown, VP sales and business development for Do it Best Corp.

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