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Marketing 101: Tell it with baseball cards

BY HBSDEALER Staff

To complement the baseball theme of its Grand Slam Power Challenge promotion at the National Hardware Show last month, Briggs & Stratton presented its catalog in the form of baseball cards. It featured a portrait of the product on the front, with stats and information on the back.


“We thought our customers might find them a bit more interesting and handy than a product catalog,” said Eric Loferski, director of marketing of Briggs & Stratton’s portable power and cleaning systems.


The idea may be catching on. 


At this year’s International Builders’ Show, Louisiana-Pacific promoted its products with a “Heroes of the Build” card pack. It featured cards of five heroes, including the “Fearless Fighter of Fast-Spreading Flames.”


Irwin Tools’ recent limited-run baseball card effort (a print run of only 250) featured real people — winners of its regional Ultimate Tradesman Challenge skills contests. “It was something to get the guys excited and to share with their friends and their families,” said Cheryl Mehrmann, Irwin’s director of marketing. “It was very well received by the competitors.”

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Small-town dealer reacts to big-time tornado

BY HBSDEALER Staff

There wasn’t a lot of media attention on Reading, Kan., last month, when a tornado touched down on the night of May 21 and wiped out most of the town. The press corps was focused on Joplin, Mo., and Reading (rhymes with bedding) is a small farming community: approximately 230 people were living in 40 homes; Reading Elementary School only has about 67 students. 


By Sunday morning, May 22, about 10 homes were left, some of them partly destroyed. The town’s school had its roof torn off, and its post office, Baptist church and volunteer fire department were damaged. One man was killed when his mobile home was flipped over. 


Jeff Clark, a Do it Best dealer in nearby Lyndon, had been tracking the F3 category tornado on Saturday night. Lyndon Building Materials is the closest lumberyard and hardware store to Reading, and Clark was worried.“We had customers in that town, and we knew they’d be in trouble,” Clark said. But the National Guard had closed off all the roads leading into Reading. 


Clark opened his home center early Sunday morning, and his Reading customers started streaming in. “They bought water, plywood and screw guns,” Clark said, referring to cordless drills. There was no power in Reading, so everything had to be battery-driven. 


By Monday, the National Guard started letting people into the area. Clark sent some of his employees with cordless power tools, plywood and 2x4s to help residents board up their houses. As of presstime, Reading residents were being allowed back into their homes for a couple of hours a day to recover their possessions.

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Larry Stone shares “Five Traits of Leadership”

BY HBSDEALER Staff

[Editors note: The following article is reprinted from 2011. The 2015 Golden Hammer Awards ceremony takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center May 5, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Channel Leaders Club Lounge, Central Hall Booth 3055.]

Las Vegas — Four years ago, Larry Stone sat in the audience at a Golden Hammer Awards ceremony, while his friend and colleague Robert Strickland, chairman emeritus of Lowe’s Cos., entered the Home Channel Hall of Fame.


Last month, in the same banquet room at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Stone followed in Strickland’s footsteps, entering the Hall of Fame after 42 years at Lowe’s, and a career that began in the mailroom of the nation’s second-largest home center. 


With a stirring induction from his longtime Lowe’s colleague Greg Bridge-ford, Stone entered the Home Channel Hall of Fame during the National Hardware Show. 


Addressing Stone from the podium, Bridgeford said: “I speak for your co-workers when I say we greatly admire you for what you were able to do and accomplish in 42 years, but we love you for how much you care. That’s the best legacy I think anyone can ever leave.” 


The Hall of Fame induction of Stone was one of the highlights of the 27th annual Golden Hammer Awards, a Home Channel News event held in conjunction with the National Hardware Show.


According to Bridgeford, a 30-year colleague of Stone at Lowe’s, the new Hall of Famer always led by example, trying to be the best he could at any position he was assigned. His colleagues called him “the soul of Lowe’s” and a man whose three- to four-hour store walk-throughs are considered a masters course in home improvement retailing.


“Whatever job Larry took you always saw two predominant behaviors, first an obsession to understand the challenge of the position and what he needed to learn to succeed,” Bridgeford said. “The second is an incredible drive to be the best at whatever challenge he took on.”


In his acceptance speech, Stone listed the five traits he considered essential to leadership:


• Authenticity: “Never try to be someone you’re not. Let people see the true you every day.”


• Treat people the way you want to be treated: “Know what’s important to your people.”


• Passion: “As a leader, you cast a big shadow. Be passionate about your company.” 


• Be a team player: “Give your support and leadership to your team.” 


• Integrity: “Your integrity will last long after you’re gone.”


“I didn’t start in the mailroom and think, ‘Well, someday I could be president.’ But I did set goals,” said Stone, who also described his career as an adventure. “I hope I had a positive impact on the industry, because the industry and Lowe’s have had a tremendous impact on me,” he said. 


In kicking off the induction ceremony, John Shields of MSA Safety Works, the event sponsor, described Stone as an extremely worthy inductee. “For his amazing rise through the ranks, and for his tremendous success at Lowe’s, and for the impact he has had on the people he’s worked with, and the industry as a whole, Larry Stone deserves a place in the Home Channel Hall of Fame,” he said.


Some 150 retailers and other industry leaders attended the breakfast event, which also included the Golden Hammer Retail Winner panel. 

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