Handy Hardware executive resigns
An industry veteran and former top merchandising executive at Handy Hardware, Mickey Schulte resigned last week to take a position outside the hardware industry.
Schulte had been a key figure at the Houston-based distributor and served during the company’s growth years, its bankruptcy and its subsequent reorganization.
“Mickey’s efforts helped position handy for long-term success, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Craig Cowart, Handy’s executive VP merchandising and marketing.
Handy Hardware emerged from a Chapter 11 filing in August 2013 after being purchased by Hardware Holdings, part of the Littlejohn & Company group. The company’s structure changed from a member-owned co-op to an independent wholesaler and distributor. As a result of the bankruptcy proceedings, retailers who were members of the co-op lost their equity.
During the transformation, the distributor tapped two industry veterans to take the reins. Doug Miller, formerly the CEO at Jensen Distributing, holds the CEO post. More recently, Cowart took over the top merchandising post. He is a former president of Marvin’s Building Materials and Home Centers and a former merchandise manager at Lowe’s. Cowart has spearheaded the distributor’s 2014 Profit Plus initiative to improve merchandising, assortment, vendor relations and dealer programs.
Handy veteran Ken Harvey, who previously reported to Schulte, remains in his position as VP dealer services, overseeing the sales team and customer service.
Sears Hometown opens a trio of stores
Two Sears Hometown Stores opened in Colorado, Florida and Virginia and will be celebrating grand opening ceremonies this weekend.
In Florida, the new store is located in Ocoee at 8849 W. Colonial Drive. The new Virginia store is located at 6623 Richmond Road in Williamsburg. Both locations will be offering 10% discounts through the weekend, plus special grand opening giveaways.
The new Sears Hometown Store in Colorado is located in Longmont, at 700 Ken Pratt Blvd.
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, which broke away from Sears Holdings last year, has a national footprint of about 1,240 stores.
In the store, brands include Kenmore, Maytag, KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Bosch, Frigidaire and GE, plus a large assortment of lawn and garden equipment, Craftsman tools, fitness equipment, electronics and mattresses.
House-Hasson forecasts strong 2014 for hardware stores and LBM
House-Hasson Hardware reported sales increases at its winter dealer market, which the distributor takes to indicate that 2014 will be a lucrative year for hardware stores and lumberyards in general.
President Don Hasson noted that sales were up 14% — across the board — at the January dealer market in Nashville. He added that accelerating home sales are giving dealers added confidence.
“When we offer discounts on merchandise at a market, if dealers’ confidence in their economic prospects are low, they may buy 30 days of inventory of those products," said Hasson. "If confidence is high, dealers buy 60 days or more. That’s what we saw at this market: confidence. Consumers are also a little happier and spending a bit more money. The general overview of the hardware and lumberyard business looks positive.”
According to House-Hasson, severe winter weather is also promoting increased customer activity at hardware stores.