HARDWARE STORES

Tornado devastates Kansas town

BY Brae Canlen

There wasn’t a lot of media attention on Reading, Kan., last week, 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 about Reading. “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. At press time, Reading residents were being allowed back into their homes for a couple of hours a day to recover their possessions.

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With new structure, Home Hardware seeks growth

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Hardware Center is preparing to expand its 18-store footprint in Mississippi and Louisiana, according to the company’s owners, who say they are looking to bring acquisition expertise to a new venture called Central Network Retail Group (CNRG).

Jimmy R. Smith, president of Natchez, Miss.-based 18-unit Home Hardware Center, and Boyden Moore, the former CEO of Leeds, Ala.-based Marvin’s Home Centers and currently president of Tyndale Advisors, are the creators of the new CNRG. The Mississippi-based retail management and operations company — with initials that reflect the word "synergy" — will initially own and operate the Home Hardware Center chain.

Moore said the new company will not only help with growing the chain, it will also help with the long-term transition prospects for other family-held businesses. “We established CNRG to provide an opportunity for an orderly transition of family ownership by independent hardware and home center owners who are currently facing the challenges of succession and generational transfer,” he said. 

The two home center veterans said that plans are in place for Home Hardware Centers to expand beyond Mississippi and Louisiana. According to Smith, “We have the financing in place to fund our current growth plans with Home Hardware Center, but we are also looking for opportunities to partner with good operators to grow multiple retail chains and store formats under the right circumstances.”

CNRG will be jointly owned by Home Hardware Center and Tyndale Advisors.

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Hardware store all-stars: La., Maine and Md.

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Home Channel News coast-to-coast and state-by-state search for All-Star hardware stores turns to Louisiana, Maine and Maryland. 

• Louisiana
Ed’s Shenandoah Hardware
If biology is destiny, Ed Beard is living proof that the hardware industry has the greater gravitational pull. The 36-year-old Handy Hardware dealer began working in the store at the age of 14. All through college, where he majored in biological sciences, he continued to work full time. Soon after graduation, he bought the store from his boss. Now Ed’s Shenandoah Hardware in Baton Rogue, La. bears his distinct imprint: niche categories like beekeeping supplies, hunting, fishing and archery; and local outdoor cooking appliances like banjo burners, crawfish boilers, jambalaya pots, and a full line of high-end grills and smokers. “We meet everyone at the door and take them where they need to go,” Beard said. 

• Maine
Oak Hill Ace Hardware
“You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave” were lyrics from the hit song “Hotel California.” Oak Hill Ace Hardware in Scarborough is a little like that. You visit here one time and cannot leave because you do not want to, said general manager Dan Johnson. “We’re quick, we’re nice, we’re helpful,” he said. “So many people are wowed by how helpful we are.” Oak Hill is known for the depth and breadth of its lawn and garden products, paints, hand tools and power tools. 

• Maryland
Strosniders Hardware
From the Eisenhower administration to the present day, Strosniders Hardware has served the Washington, D.C., area with a strategy of service and convenience. Fifteen years ago, National Home Center News profiled the Bethesda, Md., location as a bona fide “Great American Hardware Store.” Today the company also operates in Potomac, Md., and Silver Spring, Md.

Next week, all-star profiles of Massachussets, Michigan and Minnesota. 

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