DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Do it Best creates a new executive post

BY HBSDealer Staff

Do it Best Corp. named John Wade as its national product sales and new business development manager.

In this new role, Wade will lead the Do it Best Corp. product sales team and new business development managers, working to grow member sales and recruit new members to join the co-op.

“I am very humbled to be given the opportunity to lead such an outstanding team,” said Wade.

Wade brings more than 30 years of retail, co-op and distribution experience and a proven sales record to the leadership position. He began his career as a home center manager for Sutherland Lumber before advancing into a territory manager position at Our Own Hardware. He then spent the next 20 years in a variety of sales and business development roles at Jensen Distribution Services, most recently as the senior vice president of dealer sales when the distributor was purchased by Ace Wholesale Holdings in 2015.

“Through his enthusiasm and deep industry experience, John has proven himself to be an ideal fit for this new role,” added Nick Talarico, VP of sales and business development for Do it Best Corp. “We are very confident in the many growth opportunities ahead for our members, and John and his team will play a strategic role in helping them grow and achieve their dreams.”

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True Value: reports and rumors

BY Ken Clark

Since reports began to swirl around a possible sale of True Value Company — or at least the consideration of such a move – the Chicago-based co-op’s CEO has downplayed the story as “rumor.”

But that hasn’t stopped rival co-ops from weighing in with their own statements. Cross-town rival Ace Hardware Corp. says it would be interested in bidding on True Value, if it were possible. And Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Do it Best Corp. says it is “considering the opportunities potentially available with our competitor,” as it pointed to its own past success in merging with Our Own Hardware in 1998.

The possibility of a sale of True Value, along with a possible sale price of $800 million, first appeared in a Bloomberg News report last week.

John Hartmann, True Value’s president and CEO, downplayed the reports of a sale in a statement that was shared on a popular Google Group comment board.

“The bottom line is this: you and your fellow stockholders own the company and nothing could be done without your say,” he wrote.

Hartmann also described the True Value co-op as committed to its strategic plan, which the co-op has been busy shaping and executing since his arrival at the company in 2013. “As part of that [plan] we are continuously assessing and evaluating many opportunities in an effort to create maximum value for all of our retailers,” he said.

Speculation that Ace might acquire its cross-town rival appeared in the Chicago Tribune. However, that speculation appears to rest on flimsy ground. Ace CEO John Venhuizen, in an online statement to Ace retailers, said it was his understanding that “Ace was specifically precluded from making a bid to purchase True Value, which is unfortunate as we would have been interested in the opportunity.”

Do it Best Corp. President and CEO Dan Starr also weighed in on the potential sale of True Value. “We are certainly considering the opportunities potentially available with our competitor,” he wrote in a July 14 statement. One of those opportunities, according to Starr, would be to take on new members.

[Read Starr’s full statement here.]      

At last count, True Value stores numbered 4,392. The co-op operates 13 regional distribution centers and has 2,500 corporate employees.

Other speculation in national media has suggested private equity players, big box retailers and Amazon.com as potential possible buyers. These possibilities have yet to rise above the status of rumor.

With so many independent businesses involved, it’s likely that rumors will continue to cloud the retail landscape. As True Value’s Hartmann explained in the post that appeared online: “Rumors have been swirling around True Value for longer than I have been here.”

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CEO points to the value of feedback

BY HBSDEALER Staff

True Value set a couple of records in 2016. The co-op’s members completed 101 remodels throughout the year, a 30% jump on its second most active remodeling year. Not only that: 68 new True Value stores opened from scratch. All told, the co-op gained about 1.5 million sq. ft. of modern retail space.

That kind of growth wouldn’t have happened without feedback from members, said CEO John Hartmann, who said the co-op responded to suggestions to make the Destination True Value store design concept more flexible and accessible to members.

Feedback is playing out in other areas, too. The co-op’s Customized True Blue assortments, which launched two years ago, are showing a clear impact on sales, he said. Sales at stores that participate in CTB are up about 5% over non-participating stores. The merchandise assortments grew out of a need to recognize more factors than small, medium and large. “We don’t want to just look at the size of the store,” Hartmann said. “We want to look at its urbanicity. Is it rural, suburban or urban? And, on top of that, we add marketplace data spend patterns into assortment, truly customizing them.”

Last year, the co-op sold 11,000 individual CTB assortments. In 2017, the co-op is on pace to sell 20,000.

And when it comes to competing with the modern giants of home improvement and the innovators of Silicon Valley, listening will play a major role again.

“Regardless of how I feel about Amazon, what really matters is what our retailers are doing to satisfy what the consumer wants,” Hartmann said. “And if I am actively listening and I’m crafting solutions both in my small format store […] and complementing that with the right omnichannel solutions, then I sleep really well at night knowing I can compete effectively in today’s marketplace.”

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