Short and Paulk expands in Georgia
Short and Paulk Supply Company of Tifton, Georgia, opened a new store in Cuthbert, Georgia, at the site of a former H&H Hardware location.
The location, which underwent extensive remodeling from the Short and Paulk team, was originally built in the early 1930’s as a Coca-Cola bottling plant. H&H Hardware later acquired the location in the early 1980’s, and H&H Hardware served the Cuthbert community for the past 36 years.
The showroom has been more than doubled in square footage. The new location has been opened for business since early April, but the Grand Opening will be held on May 25, 2016.
Jay Short, President and CEO of Short and Paulk Supply Company, says the team is excited about the new location.
“Cuthbert will be a great addition and help us to better serve our customers in Southwest Georgia,” he said. “H&H Hardware has served the Cuthbert community for many years and we hope to carry on their tradition of hospitality and service with familiar faces.”
Short and Paulk formed when JP Short II moved to Tifton in 1910 to work with his brother-in-law Jack Taylor at Taylor Hardware & Furniture. (Short and Paulk’s first phone number was two digits: “97.”)
JP operated Short Hardware through the depression until 1939. After a short stint at Rodenberry’s Hardware, JP and his Uncle HP Paulk founded Short and Paulk in 1941 in an old warehouse along the railroad tracks on South Main Street in Tifton.
Today third generation family member J.P. (Jay) Short V serves as President and CEO. Short & Paulk currently also operates lumberyards/homecenters in Tifton, Sylvester, Albany and Dawson. In addition, the company operates Georgia Structural Components, a truss manufacturing plant in Tifton, and a door assembly shop in Tifton. Short & Paulk currently employs over 70 full and part-time employees. A fleet of trucks delivers building products to jobsites all over South Georgia, North Florida, and Southeast Alabama.
Retail profile: Friedman’s hits a milestone
In 1946, when Benny and Joe Friedman returned home from the war, they envisioned opening their own business in Sonoma County, serving the neighborhood families, ranchers and farmers they grew up with. That year, they opened the doors of their first store, on the banks of the Petaluma River.
Originally from Santa Rosa, the Friedmans lived on a farm across the street from what is now the location of their Santa Rosa Avenue store. Like many others growing up during the depression, they tackled household wiring, plumbing and construction projects themselves. They also learned how to repair, refurbish and rebuild almost anything on the farm, all skills they continued to improve upon throughout their lives.
When they began their business, Benny and Joe –along with their just-out-of-high school kid brother Harry – made a point to carry those supplies they knew to be most dependable and useful for projects around home, garden and farm. Along the way, they became an invaluable source for gardening, repair and building tips. Most of their customers were the original “DIYers” – used to tackling their home and farm jobs with hands-on experience, common sense and a little advice from neighbors and their local hardware store. In fact, that same DIY spirit prompted the Friedman brothers to begin restoring and refurbishing appliances in the 1940’s, long before “recycling” was a buzz word.
Over the decades, Friedman's opened new stores and expanded their vision to include supplying their customers with outdoor patio furniture, holiday decorations, home accessories and a well-stocked nursery of plants and amendments chosen for the particular weather and soils of the region. Their stores spread out across the reaches of Northern California with a growing core of faithful customers from Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Marin, as well as Sonoma, counties. Over the years, Friedman’s has grown to become one of the largest, locally-owned home improvement stores in California.
Their volunteerism and generosity have touched so many lives that in 1989, Sonoma Business Magazine readers voted Benny Friedman one of “50 Who Shaped Our Century” in Sonoma County. Almost 30 years later,Bill Friedman was honored as “Citizen of the Year” by the non-profit organization, Social Advocates for Youth. Giving back to the community has become a treasured family value for decades.
Ken Dunham is executive director of the West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association.
Don Hasson’s eyes are on the numbers
One of the ways Don Hasson measures success at House-Hasson Hardware, described as America’s largest regional hardware distributor, is by the silence of his telephone.
“Out of hundred dollars ordered, our goal is to ship $98 worth,” he said in an interview with HBSDealer. “That is where we are at, and that’s where our customers like us to be. We don’t get many phone calls. You get phone calls when it drops from there.”
Those kinds of phone calls haven’t been vexing Hasson, who points to a 98% service level in addition to a low error rate of one-half of one percent for the distribution network.
It’s been almost a year since House-Hasson Hardware acquired Birmingham, Alabama-based distributor Long-Lewis Hardware. With the acquisition, House-Hasson is running at about a 20% increase in business. And Hasson says the focus is on maintaining efficiency through the integration of the two distribution networks.
“My primary goal this year is to be certain that our metrics stay on track and that we continue to do the things you need to do well,” he said. “So we’re really spending this year absorbing that acquisition and being certain that our numbers are where they are supposed to be.”
House-Hasson was founded in 1906 (the same year as the first flight of the Wright Brothers). Under Don Hasson’s tenure, it has made four other acquisitions. “We understand what it takes,” he said.
House-Hasson operates two distribution centers: one in Knoxville, Tennessee, and one in Prichard, West Virginia. The acquisition of Long-Lewis required a shift in some of the flow of product, with the Southern customer base of Long-Lewis being served from Knoxville, and some existing House-Hasson customers moving into the orbit of Prichard.
The addition of the Long-Lewis business helps the distributor better compete on a number of fronts, he said. “I don’t think Home Depot is going to quiver in their boots, but it sure helps us to have more clout with our vendors, and there’s a lot of vendors that are very supportive of the two step-channel,” he said. “We’re good partners with a lot of those folks and vice versa. “
House-Hasson serves some 2,000 independent hardware dealers, lumberyards and home centers in territories covering 18 states and parts of the Caribbean. (A “good number” of those are affiliated with a national co-op, or Orgill, he said.) Still, Hasson is comfortable with the “regional” approach to distribution, and prefers to focus on states east of the Mississippi River.
“We like it in this part of the world, and we see lots of additional opportunities to grow in this region,” he said.
Hasson pointed to a dealer Web design program as a way to compete in the digital world. In-house Web designers build customer sites for stores.
“In addition to giving them a customized website, we also give them access to our inventory, our 50,000 items and a ship-to-store program, so their customers in their local markets can buy anything we have and go pick it up in store,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in that program right now.”
The threat from Amazon and its like seems to loom larger than even the threat from the big-box home improvement center, according to Hasson’s view of the industry.
"I think if we were having this interview 10 or 15 years ago [the big box] would have been the biggest threat, the biggest topic and the biggest issue,“ he said. “But I think now they are so inundated throughout the population that they're an old competitor, not a new competitor, anybody who is going to be harmed or threatened by them, it’s already happened."
Keeping an eye on e-commerce is one characteristic of successful retailer. There are others, and they are consistent, he believes.
“The top customers they all have a lot of certain characteristics, they’re clean, they’re well-merchandised, they’re priced right and they’re customer-oriented,” he said. “And every one of them that you visit, whether they be our top 100 or anybody else’s, that’s how they’re going to look.”