DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Hardware store steps up for the kids

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Brooklyn, New York-based retailer Matt Mazzone’s idea to sell chocolate for charity has been a huge hit. It started out local, and sweetened into a national program whereby Ace stores across the country have generated more than $600,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

For his leadership, his fundraising and his community involvement, Mazzone is the 2016 Ace All-Star Retailer.

"I am truly humbled and honored to be named the 2016 All-Star Retailer, and would like to give credit to my incredible team,” said Mazzone, owner of Mazzone Ace Hardware in Brooklyn. “I think I speak for Ace retailers across the organization when I say that giving back to our communities is something ingrained in our DNA, it is done without expectation of recognition or award.”

This national award honors one Ace retailer annually for his or her extraordinary fundraising, leadership skills, innovation and commitment to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals  – Ace’s national philanthropy of choice. Mazzone was nominated by his local CMN Hospital, Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

The co-op says Mazzone was selected for his exemplary fundraising for Cohen Children’s Medical Center and his efforts to influence and engage Ace stores across the country to fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The idea to use World’s Finest Chocolate Bars as a fund raiser – an idea that took off across the co-op – led to the sale of 1.2 million bars, generating more than $600,000 for CMN Hospitals across the country in just 16 months. In addition, Mazzone hosts an annual Pumpkinfest event for his store’s neighborhood community. This fun-filled event has become a local tradition for many families with proceeds benefitting Cohen Children’s Medical Center. The event includes pumpkin decorating, pony rides, face painting, music, food and raffles.

As part of Mazzone’s recognition, P&G and Duracell will donate $25,000 in his name to Cohen Children’s Medical Center. In addition, Cabot Creamery will host Mazzone on their 2017 Cabot Community Celebrity Cruise to Alaska. Like Ace, Cabot Creamery is a cooperative that believes in rewarding influential leaders like Mazzone for their contributions to communities and society.

“I would like to thank our store associates, my fellow Ace retailers, the Ace Foundation team, and Ace’s management for their encouragement and continued support of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals,” said Mazzone.

“We are proud to recognize Matt Mazzone as Ace’s third-annual All-Star Retailer,” said Kane Calamari, president of the Ace Hardware Foundation. “Not only has Matt been instrumental in raising funds for his local hospital, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, but he has also been a visionary catalyst within our organization spurring incredible fundraising growth across the entire Ace enterprise.”

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True Value sharpens its focus

BY Steph Koyfman

Denver — Scores of True Value dealers and vendors gathered at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver this weekend to talk shop, but as it turned out, True Value executives had a number of exciting announcements to add to the discussion.

The co-op rolled out a newly improved, one-stop shop for CTB (Customized True Blue) and retail assortments called Assortment City, where members could do all their ordering at one kiosk.

True Value is also getting ready to release an app that allows dealers to track their deliveries with detailed load information and a real-time view of the truck in transit.

There's also the matter of trolls. A colorful partnership with DreamWorks Animation in promotion of its new movie, Trolls, will be bringing a round of exclusive paint colors to True Value stores this holiday season.

But in the midst of all the details and background chatter, True Value grounded its General Session presentation in an appeal to the notion of "focus." Aptly named Focus 2016, the theme of the event had a lot to do with the co-op's efforts to help filter out the noise of everyday routine for its members, as well as concentrate resources into efforts that are likely to provide the biggest payoff.

"My focus today and always is on all of you and your sustained success," said president and CEO John Hartmann. "I've been asked about the meaning of 'Focus 2016.' It's all about driving forward on our journey together — all of us concentrating our efforts on things that lead to more store traffic, more sales and more store growth."

Indeed, attendees were supplied with 3D glasses for a properly focused viewing of the introductory message at the General Session, but the concise round of announcements that followed were all in line with the event's theme.

Hartmann took a moment to congratulate the co-op on a net margin increase of more than 40% during the second quarter, as well as improved customer service ratings and continued retail sales growth in the recent post-recession years.

Senior VP growth Tim Mills took the stage to talk about Assortment City: "Isn't it great to see all those assortments in one place?" he said.

The user-friendly ordering tool includes cartleg functionality and faster entry. Mills also added that the co-op has updated its implementation guide with learnings from the past two years, as well as created a report to better track inventory when demand is high.

News from senior VP and COO Abhinav Shukla included the introduction of a new program that will display every store's real-time inventory online, to be launched next year.

True Value is also retrofitting three of its RDCs with two-day ship to home service — equivalent to Amazon Prime.

Additionally, a new store sourcing program will offer savings to members related to things like background checks, electricity, computer equipment, temporary labor and freight management.

Senior VP marketing and chief customer officer Blake Fohl gave a status update on the co-op's stepped-up marketing efforts: total brand awareness is up 33% over the last year, thanks to the highest levels of advertising awareness since 2008. Much of that focus has involved reaching Millennials: there's been a 55% increase in brand awareness among that demographic.

Fohl added that there will be an additional five national circular events (making a total of 10 for the year).

VP and CMO Heath Ashenfelter also announced a new alliance with Benjamin Moore, which will bring Coronado-brand paint to True Value stores using the same equipment as the existing EasyCare paint line.

But the real attention-grabber was the Trolls sponsorship — or was it the presence of live Troll mascots on the stage?

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Slide show: True Value in Denver

BY Steph Koyfman

Denver — The show floor at the Fall 2016 True Value Reunion included many familiar sights and sounds: product pitches, promotions vying for attention, and even some live animals (Harvest Lane Honey brought some worker bees to its booth so that viewers could watch as honey was made).

Not as typical was the visit from Peyton Manning, the performance from Styx front man Dennis DeYoung, and the presence of troll mascots on the General Session stage.

Here are but a few snapshots.

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