DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Orgill earns export accolades

BY HBSDealer Staff

Orgill, Inc., was one of 43 U.S. companies recognized this week by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross with the President’s “E” Award, which honors companies throughout the country that export U.S. goods and services.

The Presidential “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to expanding U.S. exports. This year marks the 56th anniversary of the award. The 2018 honorees come from 18 states and include 33 small and medium-sized businesses and 17 manufacturers.

“We are honored to be among the select group of companies recognized with the Presidential ‘E’ Star Award,” says Ron Beal, Orgill chairman, president and CEO.

Orgill received its first “E” award in 2014. This year, Orgill was honored with an “E” Star Award for Exports, which recognizes previous “E” awardees who have reported four years of additional export growth.

“Receiving the ‘E’ Star award this year after having received the ‘E’ award four years ago shows how we continue to grow and support the global economy through our consistent export business,” says Jerry Cardwell, Orgill’s senior VP of international sales. “What’s more, it shows the dedication and diligence of our fantastic employees who go the extra mile to help our customers grow and strengthen their businesses.”

Memphis-based Orgill, Inc., was founded in 1847 and is the world’s largest independently owned hardlines distributor. It provides retailers in nearly 60 countries around the world with access to more than 75,000 products from its seven distribution centers and three export consolidation facilities. It continues to grow at a rapid rate, with annual sales exceeding $2 billion in 2017.

The “E” Award was created in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order to recognize companies that make up America’s exporters. The companies honored this year helped export more than $2 trillion worth of U.S. goods and services in 2017.

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Dealer profile: Thompson True Value

A fan of the co-op model, and critic of his company’s transformation.

BY Ken Clark

David Thompson of Thompson True Value Hardware & Rental in Marshalltown, Iowa, remembers clearly the day he became a True Value member.

The year was 1972. He was 24.

“John Cotter shook my hand the day I bought my store,” he told HBSDealer. “In fact, he was the reason I bought my store. He gave me my backing. I’ll never forget the opportunity I was provided.”

Cotter wasn’t Thompson’s first brush with a home improvement legend. Growing up in Eau Claire, Wis., Thompson and his family would often share their dinner table with a young entrepreneur named John Menard.

As a retailer, Thompson takes community to heart. He’s a county supervisor (similar to a business manager) in Marshall County. The store is active in Little League and various fund-raising efforts. “We have huge community support, and we give it back,” he said.

Thompson’s retail background and his roots in the Midwest — where co-ops played instrumental roles in the dairy and farming industry — shaped a positive feeling toward the co-op business model.

He bled True Value red during his retailing career. In a True Value promotional picture with his son, Paul, the headline read “The Value of Being the Local Expert.”

Then came the new deal — ACON Investments’ purchase of 70% of the company. True Value said the deal was accepted by more than 80% of voting members. Thompson was not among them.

“I withheld my vote,” he said. “In effect, my vote was one of no confidence. The only reason I can imagine any store owner voted ‘yes’ was in fear of losing their investment. Getting 70% of your investment back was better than getting nothing.”

Will he use his windfall check to invest in the business? “I have invested in the business from day one and will continue to do so.”

Will he go to the True Value Reunion in Denver? “Yes. I will go to many other shows, too.”

What is his post-transaction strategy? “Wait and see.”

Critical of the handling of the transaction, Thompson called the 30-day window (it was extended by a week) an “absurd” amount of time for such a momentous decision. “This was a transaction of a member-owned organization that involved people’s life work and lifetime savings. It was unconscionable,” he said.

He also takes issue with the requirement to pay $150 per store per month for True Value branding and participation in ship-to-store. “A name that many of us had worked a lifetime to build and are now being charged $150 a month to use — it’s an insult.”

There are plenty of alternative opinions regarding the True Value deal. For instance, Dorn True Value of Madison, Wis., emailed the following: “There is change happening in all of retail, and old structures and ownerships need to change to survive. I think True Value is ready to grow again.”

As for Thompson, he expressed a feeling of good fortune that his family will carry on the business: “The greatest issue facing our industry today is succession planning,” he said. “I’m very fortunate that I have a son that has been through school and understands the opportunity. He has a solid future ahead of him.”

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HBSDealer encourages your comments and opinions. Send them to [email protected]. Or click on “comments” below.

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Executive announcement at Ace

The co-op names a new VP of retail operations and new business.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware Corp. appointed John Tovar to the position of VP of retail operations and new business. Tovar will report to John Surane, executive VP of merchandising, retail operations, business to business, and wholesale holdings.

Tovar joins Ace Hardware from GameStop where he served as VP of merchandising. His responsibilities included the strategic direction for the company’s Buy-Sell-Trade business model across all 4,000 locations, wholesale distribution channels and ecommerce site. Tovar brings more than 15 years of experience in the retail industry, including leadership roles with Home Depot and 24 Hour Fitness.

John Tovar

“We are pleased to welcome John to Ace in his role,” said Surane. “John’s years of experience within the retail industry will enhance and strengthen the already outstanding skills and experience of our current team.”

Tovar received an MBA from Georgia Tech and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Business Administration from UCLA.

Tovar takes over the role  previously held by Dan Miller, who retired in April.

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