Throwback Thursday: Newt Gingrich in the House
Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Newt in the House

The 2008 ProDealer Industry Summit had plenty for political junkies.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Oct. 20, 2008, issue of Home Channel News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, concisely described that year’s ProDealer Industry Summit in Chantilly, Va., in this headline: “Business trumps politics outside D.C. as pro dealers grapple with downturn.”

It was a time of home foreclosures and market downturns. It was a time of bailout bills and presidential campaigns. There was a lot to talk about in Chantilly. And leading the discussion was Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House from Georgia.

The front page article quotes Gingrich — perhaps prophetically, perhaps accidentally — on the big picture of U.S. politics: “A sudden surge of energy from the American people will wipe out the current system.”

The event coincided with the vice presidential debate that paired Sarah Palin with Joe Biden.

Other bold-faced names at the 2008 Summit were housing analyst Ivy Zelman, National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard and incoming chair of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association Paul Hylbert, who at the time was CEO of ProBuild Holdings.

The event recognized Curtis Lumber of Ballston Spa, N.Y., as Pro Dealer of the Year. Keim Lumber of Charm Ohio was honored as Independent Pro Dealer of the Year.

The tradition of the ProDealer Industry Summit — hosted jointly by the NLBMDA and HBSDealer — continues in 2018 in Chicago.

 


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Victor Coal and Lumber

BY HBSDealer Staff

Victor Coal and Lumber in Victor, N.Y., officially closed its doors for good on May 26, but not before four generations and 140 years of adapting to customers and serving the community.

According to Victor’s Town/Village historian Babette Huber, the Wilcox-Johnson Tank Company began in 1870, with a new factory being built in 1912. During the 1940s, the Bartholomew Lumber and Coal Company was added. The company was renamed Victor Coal and lumber Company and was moved across the street to its present location. Up until its closing, it held the distinction of being the oldest continuing business in Victor.

According to the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, fourth-generation owner Michal Bliss will retire at the age of 62.

In honor of the dealer’s long, distinguished run, this week’s Throwback Thursday segment looks back at Victor Coal and Lumber Co. The undated photo above hangs in the Victor Village Hall, and the photos below show the old wood working equipment as it looks today.


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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Marvin Ellison, Bernie Marcus and Frank Blake
Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Marvin Ellison on the record

In 2011, we spoke with The Home Depot’s executive VP of U.S. stores.

BY HBSDealer Staff

A Dec. 5, 2011, article on homechannelnews.com, the forerunner of HBSDealer.com, proclaimed: “Executive briefing: Marvin Ellison.”

At the time, it would have been preposterous to think that, some day, this hard-charging executive would be named CEO at rival Lowe’s. (But that’s exactly what happened this week.)

Here’s the 2011 article reprinted in full:

Ask Marvin Ellison any question about Home Depot’s business, and the answer will probably circle around, gravitate toward or — probably most likely — hammer squarely on the concept of customer service.

That’s one of the takeaways from an interview with the Home Depot executive VP of U.S. stores. And there were many others, such as his company’s belief in the theory that grabbing market share from competitors is the surest way to growth in a struggling economy. Of course, there’s a service angle to that mission, too.

Here are some highlights from our briefing with Ellison, which took place during a recent visit to the Home Depot’s “Store Support Center” in Atlanta.


On customer service

“We first made a decision when Frank Blake became chairman and CEO that we wanted to once again regain our customer appreciation and be viewed as a customer service-leading retailer. So we asked, ‘How do you get there?’ It was very basic. You get there by doing some of the old-fashioned things really well. That’s training and staffing and making sure that we create an environment in the stores where customer service is viewed as the most important role of any associate. The second thing you do is to go out and try to find the technology that enables the associate in the store to have time to spend on customer service versus chasing all the other operational and task-driven things that happen in any given store.”


On the 60-40 split

“We did an analysis and realized almost 60% of all hourly payroll was spent on non-customer-facing parts of the business — unloading trucks, auditing the back end, counting cash in the cash room, stocking shelves. And so we were astonished, as a customer-centric company, that most of our money was not spent on customers. What we had to do was pull a 180-degree turn; we’ll have 60% spent on service, not on tasks. We have a plan to do that by 2014, but we’ll be there before 2014. At the beginning of this year we got to 50%, and we’ll end this year at 55%.”


On the First Phone

“The First Phone was a huge initiative toward [getting to 60%]. We put this in the hands of anywhere between 15 to 20 associates in a store. They have it on their hip, and they can do everything. All the key reports are on the phone. Real-time sales so you know exactly what’s going on. More importantly, it gives you the ability to solve a problem with the customer without ever losing connectivity.

“As a mobile POS device, it allows us to address any long lines on busy days. Anyone who has the device is allowed to use it as a mobile POS. For customer service at checkout, it’s a huge deal. The First Phone is part of a location tool. I can type in hammers, and it tells me the aisle and the bay location. It shrinks the amount of time it takes to answer customer questions.

“It also helps us with our in-stock position because this device is used as our in-stock tool. It gives us the ability to put right products on the shelf and allows us to manage our inventory without having to go to extreme steps of stickers on products. From an in-stock standpoint, customer checkout standpoint, locating the product, all those things are very positive.”


On the competition

“We think we’re in one of the most competitive retail spaces in the market place right now. And we also know that our smaller competitors are very formidable because they have product knowledge and they lean on service. But what we believe and what we have proven is that because we have a dominance in product assortment and because of our scale, we have a great advantage on price. And when we layer outstanding service on top of that, then we have a winning proposition. And that’s even more reason why we spend so much time talking about service.”


On the pro customer

“Just like DIY customers, pro customers come from different demographics, different spending patterns. It’s our responsibility to provide them the service they require. Painters or electricians all have different ways they spend and different expectations. We’re seeing all the above, but it doesn’t matter. For us, we strive to create the best shopping environment for our customers, period.”


On growth strategy

“In the U.S. we have a very simple philosophy. When you look at the last five years and look at the impact of the economy on our overall sales, we think that our growth strategy falls within our existing stores. So you’re not going to see a big plan from The Home Depot to open a lot of stores or create unique store formats as a way to create new-store growth. Instead, you’re going to hear us talk about how we’re going to take market share and the steps we’re putting in place to grow sales per square foot in our own stores.”


On the next big thing

“The biggest thing is continuing to make customer service the priority as it relates to how customers shop. You’re going to hear us talk a lot about interconnected retail; creating a seamless connection between dot-com and store; and addressing the needs of how, when and where our customer wants to shop. We call our strategy interconnected retail, because we believe that our responsibility is to make sure however the customer wants to buy that we have the ability to service their needs whether they want to buy in the store or online. But don’t be confused by that. This is nothing but an extension of our focus on customer service.”

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HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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