Stihl builds for growth in the Northeast
In a move aimed at boosting overall operations and supporting dealer growth in the Northeast, Stihl celebrated the grand opening of its new Northeast Stihl location in Oxford, Connecticut.
In January 2015, STIHL Inc. announced it would relocate from Shelton, Connecticut, to a new facility in Oxford. The new site was completed in October 2016 and measures in at 110,000-square-feet.
Stihl Inc. distributes its products across the U.S. through a two-tiered system, selling products through a network of independent distributors and company-owned branches. Distributors and branches, in turn, sell products to authorized Stihl servicing dealers nationwide.
“With over 9,000 independent servicing dealers across the country, it’s critical that we provide them with superior service and support. The new facility in Oxford is just one example of the kinds of investments we are making at Stihl Inc. to strengthen our distribution infrastructure,” said Stihl Inc. Vice President of Sales & Marketing Nick Jiannas, who attended the ceremony.
Stihl selected Oxford. for its access to the I-84 and I-95 corridors which are main routes for deliveries to STIHL dealers. In addition, the facility is designed to drive efficiencies to further enhance dealer support and responsiveness. Expanded warehouse capabilities include: efficient racking and storage systems, improved pick and pack processes that reduce errors and increase productivity and 13 loading doors to handle inbound/outbound freight.
Northeast Stihl provides service to dealers in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Ace Wholesale Holdings gains a president
Ace Hardware Corporation has appointed Mark Spanswick to the position of president and general manager of Ace Wholesale Holdings LLC.
Spanswick was previously working for W.W. Grainger as regional sales VP, a role that dealt in sales and channel strategy development. He spent 27 years with W.W. Grainger in a variety of leadership roles, including VP mergers, acquisitions and sales integration.
“We are pleased to welcome Mark to his new role as the leader of Ace Wholesale Holdings,” said John Surane, Executive Vice President, Merchandising, Retail Operations, Business to Business, and Wholesale Holdings.
“Mark has consistently demonstrated the ability to lead teams through complex business situations and build cohesive sales organizations," added Surane. "Mark’s leadership and talents will serve us well in our quest to further grow Ace Wholesale Holdings.”
Big tickets, bigger opportunities
Home center giants The Home Depot and Lowe’s, whose performances serve as the bellwether for home and home improvement spending across the spectrum, are flexing their muscles heading into their most profitable season. One reason: big-ticket sales.
Lowe’s reported a sales increase of 19.2% in the fourth quarter, as average ticket sales increased 3.6%.
Lowe’s scored a 9% increase in transactions above $500. Kitchen and appliances led the charge, as well as the lucrative beast — the pro customer.
At Home Depot, a similar big-ticket story is taking place. Defined as transactions more than $900, Depot’s big-ticket transactions increased 11.6% in the fourth quarter. Flooring, appliances and “several pro categories.”
And at BMC Stock Holdings, one of the big stories, and big tickets, continues to be the ReadyFrame. It’s a labor-saving, whole-house framing solution that, according to CEO Peter Alexander, “is difficult to replicate and creates a nice barrier to entry.”
The company has high expectations for ReadyFrame — growing from $103 million in sales in 2016 to $300 million in 2020.
But it’s not just the big guys who are playing the game of big baskets. And the key to boosting the ticket size is, to a large degree, the result of the combination of “personal touch” and “product knowledge.”
At Hipp Modern Builders Supply in Mountain View, Ark., big tickets usually take the form of window, door and framing packages, and they easily reach into four figures. Manager Gentry Hipp said his business doesn’t want to lose any big-ticket customers, and that’s why everyone knows how to close the deal.
“We make sure our staff — all of our staff — has the knowledge and the tools at their disposal,” said Hipp, a 2014 HBSDealer Hardware Store All-Star. “We don’t wait around for a manager to become available to take care of that customer.”
Training is the key to make that happen, along with giving the front line all the tools to make the sale, he said.
Killingworth (Conn.) True Value — another Hardware All-Star from the class of 2012 — serves the do-it-yourself customer, who is less likely than a pro to pull out the checkbook for a big transaction. That’s why coowner Tom Cost Jr. says the plan is to maximize each sale.
According to Cost, selling the grill is only half the battle. Victory at Killingworth is declared only when the store completes the sale of the accessories — the grill scrubber, wood pellets, the cover and cooking utensils. It’s these add-ons that tend to generate better margins, as well.
Cost asks his sales team to be prepared not only with product knowledge, but with a product story to personalize the sale. Part of the challenge is to convince the customer to buy a high-end product that’s better than the one they already own.
He pointed to backpack blowers, as an example. “We sell a lot of $500 and $600 backpack blowers,” he said. “And that takes pointing out the value of the customer’s time. They talk through the project with the customer. They describe the power, the low vibration and why they are going to spend $500 here, instead of $250 at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Our message is: ‘This is the best you can buy, and it will last you forever.’”