DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

True Value partners with Boys & Girls Clubs

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Atlanta – Before the True Value Reunion here, Brent Burger spent some quality time with kids from an Atlanta area Boys & Girls Club. On Saturday afternoon, he announced a national partnership between True Value and the youth organization. 

“True Value Foundation’s mission is to provide resources to improve the lives of children in the communities we serve,” said Brent Burger, True Value Company board of directors chairman and True Value Foundation president. “Our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a natural fit. It unites our retailers around a common philanthropy, and provides them with an opportunity to engage with local Clubs and give back in a variety of ways.”

During the first year of the partnership, True Value Foundation will support Boys & Girls Clubs of America, headquartered in Atlanta, by piloting local retailer engagement activities. 

In 2015, the foundation will roll out system-wide tools to connect additional True Value retailers with local Boys & Girls Clubs for volunteer and fundraising opportunities. The partnership kicked off at True Value’s Reunion in Atlanta with a community service project where retailers were paired with local Club youth for activities and mentoring at an Atlanta-area Boys & Girls Club.

“At True Value, we’re committed to the communities we serve and to the local hardware entrepreneur. Boys & Girls Clubs of America positively influences the lives of our future entrepreneurs and business leaders every day,” said John Hartmann, True Value Company president and CEO. “On behalf of True Value and our retailers, we’re honored to work with such a highly regarded, high-impact organization. True Value strongly encourages its retailers and associates to commit to creating opportunities for our country’s youth through this partnership.” 

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True Value looks to transform

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Atlanta – An information-packed general session here at the True Value Reunion included up-close interviews with a new slate of senior executives and an update on the co-op’s long-running strategic planning effort.

And there was also a little comedy on the stage, as actors impersonated shoppers experiencing BBTSD, or “big box traumatic stress disorder.”

True Value CEO John Hartmann, at his second “Reunion,” – the new term for the co-op’s twice-yearly market and convention – described 2014 as a “transformational year” for the co-op. 

Expected to play a role in that transformation is a co-op-wide strategic planning process, in which the co-op has been engaged for several months. The results of the process will be released at the group’s Fall Reunion in October. 

“We’re not building something to collect dust on a shelf, I can promise you that,” Hartmann said. “This will be an execution plan with a focus that will improve performance.”

Stating the importance of transparency to the co-op’s strength, Hartmann shared some numbers. Gross billings reached $1.9 billion in 2013, about the same as 2012. Comp-store retail sales grew 2.1%, and wholesale comp-store sales increased 2.4%, on a gross-billing basis.

The co-op will deliver a patronage dividend of $54.3 million, he said.

Regarding store acquisition and attrition, Hartmann shared that True Value Company welcomed 139 stores to the co-op, while 137 stores left True Value last year. Of the new stores, 41 were brand new, and 98 were converted from other co-ops or buying organizations. However, not counted in the above math is the number of stores that simply closed during the year.

Hartmann revealed some results from the strategic planning survey that was sent out to members late last year.

With the survey showing that members purchase about 75% of their products through True Value, Hartmann encouraged members to buy through the co-op. If members’ increased warehouse purchases by 5%, the patronage dividend would increase by 25%, Hartmann stressed. 

Hartmann emphasized the message that True Value is committed to improving. “Are we satisfied with our performance? Are we satisfied with our competitive position? Are we absolutely sure we have a sustainable business model? I can provide one simple answer – no we are not.”

During a series of on-stage interviews with the new slate of True Value executive, senior VP and Chief Merchandising Officer Ken Goodgame, earned spontaneous applause when he said: “When I was at Black & Decker, just beginning in the business, True Value was the big dog. We want to return True Value to the top spot with a sense of urgency.”

Goodgame, who came to True Value from a similar position at Ace, was one of three new senior leaders introduced on stage. He was joined by Abhinav Shukla senior VP and COO; and Tim Mills the company’s new senior VP of growth.

Shukla was most recently with AlixPartners, where he focused on global supply chain and performance for Fortune 500 companies. Mills was most recently VP and general manager for the Power Solutions division of HD Supply. 

 

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Ace Hardware acquires Emery-Waterhouse

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware Corp. announced today that it has acquired Emery-Waterhouse, the Portland, Maine-based distributor of hardlines products for independent lumber, paint, industrial and hardware outlets. 

“The acquisition of Emery-Waterhouse serves as a tremendous catalyst to leverage wholesale purchasing power,” said John Venhuizen, president and CEO, Ace Hardware. “We are confident that both Ace retailers and Emery-Waterhouse customers will benefit from the additional scale and expanded assortments.”

Emery will do business as an independently operated, majority-owned subsidiary of Ace Hardware, with the Emery-Waterhouse brand continuing operations as a separate business.

Emery’s leadership team — including CEO Steve Frawley and COO Don Dickson — will remain in place, as it provides wholesale distribution services to independent retailers, according to the announcement. Emery-Waterhouse’s longtime majority owner, Charlie Hildreth, will continue to have a presence in the organization.

“As a leader in the hardlines wholesale distribution industry, aligning with Ace Hardware — the nation’s largest convenience hardware leader at wholesale and at retail — simply makes good business sense,” said Steve Frawley, CEO of Emery-Waterhouse. “Knowing that we are part of a changing and consolidating industry, this is the right decision for Emery-Waterhouse and our customers.”

Emery is one of nine regional-distributor members of Distribution America. It remains unclear how the Ace acquisition will affect Emery’s participation with DA.

In the announcement, Ace emphasized that Emery was a “profitable” business. 

Venhuizen described the acquisition, financial details of which were not immediately disclosed, in terms of industry leadership.

“My belief continues to be that Ace has two options as our industry evolves and consolidates: We can do nothing and hope the chips fall our way, or we can participate as a leader to shape our industry for the long-term benefit of Ace shareholders. … Our board of director’s and officer team’s preference is to lead.”

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