DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Hardware All Star Countdown

BY HBSDealer Staff

The 2016 Hardware All Stars issue celebrates high performing independent retailers, whether they sell, lumber, hardware or farm and ranch supplies.

Our annual All Star issue appeared earlier this month, and we’ll continue to recognize our honorees three-at-a-time in our digital products – including our three honorees below:

Missouri
Handyman True Value
Serving the St. Louis area with three locations – one of which is the form Airport Lumber – Handyman Hardware was one of True Value’s Best Hardware Store in Town honorees for 2015. Ken and Kathleen Otto run a business that sharpens blades, cuts shades, repairs windows screen, and everything else expected of an all star.

Montana
Belgrade True Value
At Belgrade True Value, store manager Cary MacMaster was quick to point to the Five Ps of retail when asked to describe the store’s competitive advantage: “People, place, price, product and promotion.” The 25,000 sq. ft. store embraces the Destination True Value format, and according to MacMaster “rental has been a great category for us.”

Nebraska
Chadron Ace Hardware
If you were a hunter last year in Dawes county, this is where you brought your deer to be approved by state game wardens. A 3,000 sq. ft. gun store-within-a-store concept is Chadron Ace's top niche (20% of sales). Also, an offsite rental area carries tables and chairs, front loaders and forklifts.

If you have a hardware All Star nominee for the class of 2017, please e-mail us at [email protected].

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Charity looks up to Do it Best

BY HBSDealer Staff

More than 30 years of support and partnership has earned Do it Best Corp. the highest national honor for 2016 from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA).

BBBSA bestowed its annual President’s Award on Do it Best Corp. at its 2016 National Conference Awards Gala in Orlando, Fla. The award recognizes the Indiana-based home improvement co-op for its long-term partnership in promoting excellence, encouraging employee volunteerism and significant investment in furthering the organization’s mission in Northeast Indiana and around the country.

Do it Best Corp. President and CEO Dan Starr and President Emeritus Bob Taylor were on hand to receive the award from BBBSA.

“Our commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters is enthusiastically embraced across our entire organization, so it’s an honor to receive this award on behalf of everyone at Do it Best Corp. and our many supportive vendors,” Starr said. “We are all proud of the positive impact we’ve helped make in the lives of thousands of at-risk kids around the country, and we are excited about continuing that work for years and decades to come.”

During the three decades of partnership with BBBS, Do it Best Corp. has donated more than $400,000 to the organization, with an additional $2.4 million raised through its annual vendor-support campaign.

In addition, Do it Best Corp. has contributed significant ongoing leadership support at the national and regional level. President Emeritus Don Wolf was a co-founder of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Indiana, now one of the country’s largest and most active chapters, while Taylor and fellow President Emeritus Mike McClelland both served on the BBBSA national board of directors. Wolf and Taylor have also been the recipients of the BBBSA Charles G. Berwind award in 1994 and 2015, respectively.

One of the co-op’s employees received BBBSA’s highest volunteer award as well. BBBSA named Do it Best Corp.;s Laura Frederick its 2016 national Big Sister of the Year. Frederick was actually inspired to volunteer with BBBS following a special event at Do it Best Corp. several years ago and has been with her Little Sister, Emily, ever since.

 

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Westlake CEO looks to the East

BY Ken Clark

Lenexa, Kansas-based Westlake Ace Hardware has more than 90 stores. But until this week, it had none east of the Mississippi River.

The acquisition of two Ace Hardware of Raleigh stores last week follows a pattern of steady growth for Westlake, but it also marks a dramatic jump eastward, where the company hopes to establish a foothold from which to grow up and down the coast.

Westlake CEO Tom Knox told HBSDealer that the decision to acquire the Raleigh retailer was much like all of its previous acquisitions. “We think hard about all of them, and we don’t do something unless we think it’s in the best interest of the company.”

One interesting aspect of the Raleigh acquisition is that it shows Westlake is willing to venture outside of its traditional Midwest footprint. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corp., operates stores in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

He said the Ace Hardware of Raleigh stores were high-performance operations located in a high-growth area, presenting a “great opportunity to grow on the East Coast.”

 The move closely follows other growth announcements, including an agreement to buy Seagoville (Texas) Ace, and an announcement to open a new store in Carrolton, Texas. As Westlake makes deals, more opportunities present themselves, Knox said. Sometimes Ace corporate introduces opportunities, and sometimes stores appeal directly to Westlake. In the case of Raleigh, it was a relationship between Knox and Raleigh owners Howie and Brug Jung that advanced the deal. 

The company expects to end the year with 98 to 100 stores, and sales in excess of $260 million.

“I think you get the general sense that we're growing and we plan to grow more," said Knox. "That was one of the reasons Ace Hardware purchased Westlake Ace [in 2012],” he said. “And we're going to grow responsibly.”

Knox was named CEO of Westlake Ace in early 2014, when the chain had 85 stores.

Asked for lessons learned since then, Knox introduced the phrase "chain store math." 

“The thing I tell people you have to learn here is ‘chain store math,’” he said. “That means anytime we want to do something to our stores, we have to multiply it by the number of stores. It may not seem like very much, but when you multiply it by 91, that’s a big number.”

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