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Four million jobs, one at a time

BY Ken Clark

When Ace Hardware injects a motivational speaker into its general session, that’s news.

Roy Spence is the “S” of Austin, Texas-based advertising agency GSD&M, whose client list includes Southwest Airlines, The PGA Tour, Popeyes and Ace Hardware.

Spence stepped onto the stage at the McCormick Place theater in Chicago and talked unscripted about America’s entrepreneurial spirit. Then he hit on an incredibly radical idea that touched on recovery and the power of human resources to shape the country.

Here’s what he said: If every small business in America hired one more person, then America would have 4 million new jobs.

Quick story: Years ago, Spence traveled to Bentonville, Ark., to pitch his young agency’s services to Sam Walton. The Wal-Mart team asked where the rest of Spence’s team was. Reflexively, Spence shot out the old Texas slogan: “One riot, one ranger. Now what’s your problem?”

He got the business.

It’s that kind of audacity and optimism that helps explain his 4 million jobs idea. Listening to Spence made it sound possible.

Regardless, people who are paid to think about their business pay attention to human resources. They pay attention to hiring and retaining and getting the most out of their employees.

ENAP CEO Steve Sallah recently brought our attention to an article from Jack Welch about the real job of HR. “What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted or moved out the door?” Welch wrote.

To ask the question is to answer it.

True Value Co. CEO Lyle Heidemann tendered the following human resource advice in the plumbing aisle of a store in Mount Prospect, Ill.: “It’s easier to teach someone who likes people what they need to know in the plumbing aisle, than to find someone who knows the plumbing aisle and teach them to like people.”

It’s hard to argue with that logic.

The list of the 20 most-viewed news stories from the past three months shows two human resources-related headlines provided from our partners at the Society for Human Resource Management. The readership stats for “Sarcastic emails are asking for trouble,” and “Pay top reason for key employees to quit,” and other stories like them tell us that Home Channel News readers are thinking about human resource-related questions.

It also tells us there’s a need for ToolkitHR, the online resource and live consultation service offered by SHRM and HCN. You can check it out online at ToolkitHR.com. You can learn more on page 28. SHRM is the undisputed leader in human resources education, and they’re helping to spread the word on HR best practices, and we’re proud to help them.

A journey of 4 million jobs begins with a single hire. It’s time for boldness in the HR department.

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The Depot delta extends another quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Of all the Home Depot metrics that were reported in its second quarter — including double-digit earnings gains — the comparable-store sales metric of positive 2.1% doesn’t jump off the page.

But the figure marks the continuation of an exceptional competitive streak: In each of the last seven quarters, Home Depot’s comps have beat its rival Lowe’s by at least 2 percentage points. This “delta” peaked at 4 percentage points in the second quarter of 2011.

The last time Lowe’s comps outperformed Depot was the first quarter of 2009.

Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock, during his company’s earnings call, described Lowe’s as a company in transition and a company that expects some level of disruption. Initiatives include multichannel seamless, mobile technology, flexible fulfillment and MyLowe’s, the company’s Web tool. “The team is making progress on these initiatives, but frankly, the benefits are accruing at a slower rate than I had expected.”

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In Chicago, upbeat and defiantly convenient

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Rallying the troops during the Ace Fall Convention and Exhibits, chairman Dave Ziegler showed the early morning general session audience a video clip of Ace COO John Venhuizen wielding a Home Channel News magazine.

In the magazine was a quote from a Home Depot executive about leading the industry in convenience and service. Venhuizen responded by channeling defiant former NRA spokesman Charlton Heston: Ace will relinquish the title of most convenient “when they can peel it out of our cold dead hands.”

There was more than heavy rhetoric at the Chicago general session.

CEO Ray Griffith shared numbers showing year-to-date Ace sales are up 4.5%, ahead of the budgeted 4.0%. The company opened 78 new stores so far, with a goal of 179 in North America.

The CEO laid out the rationale behind a refinancing deal that led to a one-time expense in the co-op’s recent quarter, but “will save $15 million a year for four years beginning in 2013.”

Griffith said the co-op’s same-store sales are up 3.8% year to date, and transactions are up 1.5% year to date. “I think it reflects the strength of the home improvement market,” he said.

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