Tractor Supply CEO to step down in 2013
Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply has announced a management succession plan to take effect Jan. 1.
Jim Wright, who was named CEO of Tractor Supply in 2004 and who took on the additional role of chairman in 2007, will be replaced by Gregory Sandfort, currently the company’s chief operating officer.
Sandfort joined Tractor Supply as chief merchandising officer in November 2007. He was promoted to president and chief merchandising officer in February 2009 and to president and chief operating officer in February 2012. Prior to joining Tractor Supply, he previously served as president and chief operating officer at Michaels Stores and has also held positions of increasing responsibility in merchandising and management at retailers such as Sears Roebuck and Co. and Federated Department Stores.
Tractor Supply is the largest farm and ranch retailer in the United States, with 1,135 stores. The company was named Home Channel News retailer of the year in 2007 at a ceremony at the National Hardware Show.
Wright joined Tractor Supply in 2000 as president and chief operating officer. During his tenure, Tractor Supply’s revenues increased from $759 million in 2000 to $4.2 billion in 2011.
In 2008, Wright described the essence of Tractor Supply Co. to a room full of investors: “What makes Tractor Supply work is the eclectic mix of product that happens to produce a market basket that’s just a general store for people living their lifestyle,” he said. “I wouldn’t doubt that several people will continue to take runs at some of our categories. And when they do, we’ll respond.”
Wright will be appointed executive chairman of the board with a term of one year on Jan. 1.
In a statement from yesterday’s announcement, Wright said: “I have been privileged to serve with an exceptional team at Tractor Supply over the past 12 years. I have confidence in the team’s ability to continue the company’s record of success and look forward to continuing to work with the leadership team in my new role as executive chairman.”
The company also announced today that Steve Barbarick has been promoted to executive VP merchandising.
Apex Tool in talks with Bain Capital
Apex Tool Group, the makers of Crescent wrenches, Lufkin measuring tapes and some Craftsman brand hand tools, is in final negotiations with Bain Capital, according to a report by Reuters and other media outlets. The private equity firm that was co-founded by U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has reportedly offered more than $1.5 billion for Apex, which is a joint venture between Danaher Corp. and Cooper Industries. Each has a 50% stake.
Negotiations are not public, but sources close to the deal said Apex prevailed over Platinum Equity LLC and American Securities LLC in the auction for the maker of industrial hand and power tools.
The joint venture, which has facilities in more than 30 countries and employs 7,600 workers worldwide, has about $1.2 billion in annual revenues, according to its website.
In what major metropolitan area does the nation’s largest independent hardware store call home?
One would think New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. One would be wrong.
The answer is Hartville, Ohio. And if you haven’t been there recently, you now have a valid professional excuse to make the trip. That’s because Hartville Hardware is not only one of the most interesting experiments in destination retailing of any stripe, it’s the “in” destination for home channel marketers, manufacturers, competitors and distributors to learn how imagination and sheer space can alter the perception of home improvement retailing.
At 305,000 sq. ft. total and 245,000 sq. ft. of retail space, Hartville Hardware, a Do it Best member since 2001, describes itself as the largest independent hardware store in the country.
Inside the massive seven-acre facility, customers find a log cabin, a drive-through lumberyard, a farm and pet area, and a fully constructed home — an “idea house” of all-American-made products.
Wayne Miller is the VP of Hartville Hardware and the grandson of the family business’ founder. Home Channel News asked him if a small town like Hartville could support the nation’s biggest independent home improvement store.
“I guess we’ll find out,” he said. He quickly added several reasons to be optimistic. First, Hartville, Ohio, may be small. But it’s conveniently located between Akron and Canton. “There are a lot of people within 20 miles of us,” Miller said.
But more than that, the new store — it opened its doors in April 2012 — operates in the same proximity as the Miller family’s restaurant, banquet hall and indoor/outdoor flea market (marketplace.)
“We kind of say, ‘Make a day out of it,’ ” Miller said. And people have listened. Since the move and conversion from a business that measured about 100,000 sq. ft., sales are up more than 30%, he said.
Compared with Home Depot or Lowe’s, Miller said Hartville has more products (about 75,000) in deeper categories — housewares, for instance, farm and pet, and a large outdoor-power-equipment store. “We also have our technicians here, which they don’t,” he said.
The drive-through lumberyard was designed by Portland, Maine-based Johnson Design Services to maximize convenience and efficiency.
The DIY customer accounts for about 75% of the business, with 25% from the pro.
The centerpiece and feature point of the store is probably the idea house, an 1,850-sq.-ft. home constructed from all-USA-made products — or almost all. Miller said the idea for the house came after they learned of a builder’s efforts to use all USA products. “We thought: ‘Why don’t we try to do that?’ ”
The idea house shows the customer products made in the USA, and also available and in-stock at Hartville Hardware, he said.
The idea house “is the Cabela’s Mountain of Hartville Hardware,” said marketing manager Christa Domer, referring to the elaborate taxidermy display and photo opportunity generally found at the sporting goods retailer. “We just wanted to show people that you can do this in your home.”
According to Miller, the family studied several top-notch home improvement retailers before launching their Hartville mega store. “We spent four or five years traveling around the country looking at great retailers out there,” he said.
Among them: Stine Lumber of Louisiana, Builders Warehouse in Nebraska, and Jerry’s Home Center of Oregon.
Wayne’s brother Howard is president of the family business, which originated as an auction barn back in 1939. The company entered home improvement in 1972. So far, Miller said the store is exceeding expectations. “We ended up having to hire more people than we had originally planned,” Miller said.
But successful retail is a never-ending journey. “After 40 years on the old store, we never had it perfect,” Miller said. “It will probably take us more than a year to get this one perfect.”