The Top 300: A noble effort
Not to pick on Fortune Magazine — after all, I want to be a billionaire someday, too — but who couldn’t come up with a list of 500 publicly traded companies? Not to disparage our competitor’s fine work, but their Fortune 500 issue almost writes itself. All they really need is Google and a spreadsheet.
Not so with the Home Channel News Industry Scoreboard — focused on the performance of the Top 300 Retailers in the home improvement and building materials industries. You can count the publicly traded companies on your two hands. The rest of the data is tucked away in desk drawers or computer files, and we have to get it or figure out a reasonable approximation.
Our list is a joint effort between Home Channel News and Tampa, Fla.-based research firm Chain Store Guide. The process began in earnest in February and involved countless phone calls, emails and then more phone calls and emails.
Luckily, most people in positions of power and trust at hardware stores, home centers and LBM dealers support our cause. They answer our questions. And we thank them.
Some things have changed with our list in 2011.
1) We tightened it.
The Top 500 Industry Scoreboard is now the Top 300 Industry Scoreboard. Why? To borrow from the noble Roman Brutus: “It’s not that we loved companies ranked 301 to 500 less, but that we loved companies ranked 1 to 300 more.”
We feel that putting the focus on the Top 300 was a better use of time and resources that would allow higher-quality editorial overall. In fact, our Top 500, Top 350 and Top 150 Scoreboard series is now the Top 300, Top 200 and Top 100 — all more focused on the top.
2) We kicked off Wal-Mart Stores.
Again to borrow from Brutus: “As Wal-Mart Stores sold paint and home improvement, we honor them. But as they sold apparel and groceries, we removed them.”
Listing Wal-Mart — and also Sears and Kmart — along with the specific home channel companies was problematic on a number of fronts. The employee counts and sales figures skewed our benchmarking, or reduced them to weak estimates.
Our Top 300 should be focused on retailers squarely in the home channel, because that’s what we do.
3) We put it on the Web.
On pages 21 through 26, you will find the first 100 of our retailers. The complete Top 300 list resides at homechannelnews.com. All you have to do is register, then read. It’s that simple.
Some things haven’t changed. Our goal is to make each list better than the prior year’s list. And we want our Scoreboard to be the biggest and best of its kind. Again with the Brutus: “We pause for your reply via email.”
— Ken Clark
Ken, I like the style of your
Ken, I like the style of your "From the Editor" column for this issue and how you wove in the references to Brutus. VERY well done! John
Marketing 101: Tell it with baseball cards
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
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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