HARDWARE STORES

Handy Hardware eliminates executive position

BY Ken Clark

Lynn Bradley, senior director, retail development, is out at Handy Hardware Wholesale, a cost-cutting move according to the Houston-based co-op.

Handy Hardware Wholesale, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, eliminated the position of “senior director, retail development,” as part of a cost-reduction plan, according to Morrie Aaron, president of MCA Financial Group. MCA is Handy’s financial advisory firm that specializes in restructuring.

It was Bradley who signed an initial letter to members announcing the co-op’s bankruptcy filing. In the letter, he asked for patience and support from members. He also wrote: “There are no plans to liquidate or shut down, and we don’t even see that as option.”

Aaron added the co-op still intends to wrap up its bankruptcy situation by late June, with the end result being either the co-op remains an independent firm or emerges from bankruptcy through an acquisition. 

Until August 2010, Bradley had been chief financial officer and senior VP sales for Handy, but he resigned from those posts after the co-op became aware of a past SEC action involving Bradley. A settlement ended with Bradley neither admitting nor denying charges, and included an agreement for him not to serve as an officer or director of a publicly traded company. 

At the time, Handy said: Bradley’s performance while at Handy was “highly beneficial to the company and to our members.”

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Handy Hardware approached by possible buyers

BY Ken Clark

Houston-based Handy Hardware Wholesale has received acquisition overtures, according to a memo to dealers from the co-op’s board of directors. 

No formal offers have been made, and none was solicited, the board said in the March 28 letter obtained by HCN. Handy did not immediately respond to an HCN request to reveal the identity of the two companies that made overtures.

Handy filed for bankruptcy protection in January and submitted a plan for reorganization in March.

While the board says it is focused on the goal of emerging from bankruptcy as a member-owned hardware co-op, the board has a legal and fiduciary responsibility to share information regarding a possible purchase, the letter explained.

“The BOD is required by the bankruptcy process to seriously evaluate and consider any options presented,” the letter states. “However, the BOD remains committed to the preservation of our cooperative in order to ensure the long-term benefits that we have all come to depend upon from Handy.”

Under the informal proposals in question, Handy would operate as a subsidiary of or be consolidated into another distributor, the letter explained. “Handy’s current members would be encouraged to remain on as customers, but it would mean that our members likely would have no ownership or control over the business,” the letter states.

The March 28 further encouraged Handy members to support the co-op by buying more from Handy.

Handy’s board of directors includes Virgil Cox, Ike Epstein, Suzanne Elliott, Chris Court, Bob Wyrick, Ken Blackmon and Tommy Chauvin.   

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Golden Hammer strikes for Rocky’s Ace Hardware

BY Ken Clark

Rocky’s Ace Hardware, the Springfield, Mass.-based hardware store company with 33 stores in five states, will accept the Retailer of the Year Award during the 2013 Golden Hammer Awards breakfast ceremony in Las Vegas, May 8, during the National Hardware Show.

The award recognizes a home improvement retail company for its operational success, as well as its commitment to best practices and industry values of quality and service.

Rocky’s Ace Hardware has been in continuous operation under the same family ownership since 1926, when the first store opened in Springfield. 

"Home Channel News has for a long time admired Rocky’s Ace Hardware," said Ken Clark, editor of Home Channel News. "It’s a family business with a great history, an eye on the future and an ability to grow."

In November, the company expanded its store count to 33 with an opening in Fairhaven, Mass. Rocky’s stores also operate in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Florida. The company says its particular strengths include paint, outdoor power, pet and lawn and garden. 

The company’s recently launched Re-Discover Rocky’s campaign attempt to connect with new and existing customers by hammering the message of product assortment and knowledge in the areas of grills, paint, tools and lawn, in addition to traditional hardware. 

Rocky’s also hit a home run with its Second Annual Pet Food Drive. “The efforts our store team members in rallying behind this worthy cause, along with the outstanding generosity of our customers, resulted in an unprecedented overall donation to local, community-based shelters and humane societies,” said Geoffrey Webb, director of marketing and advertising. The program resulted in more than 6,500 lbs. of food being donated for needy animals.

Recent honorees include Aubuchon Hardware (2012), Westlake Hardware (2011), Marvin’s Home Centers (2009) Tractor Supply Co. (2007).

For information about the National Hardware Show, click here.

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