True Value’s Chicago Reunion
Chicago — True Value Company welcomed dealers to its Fall Reunion here with a host of new programs, new products and new plans for growth.
Among the topics covered during a fast-paced General Session on Monday evening were a new-and-improved marketing strategy, a colorful “Inspiration Realized” paint center program, and the value of remodeling.
And as parts of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico – where the co-op recently added 15 new stores — continue to suffer from hurricane damage, True Value executives pointed to the team’s efforts for working together in tough times. Chairman Brent Burger described the distribution of 20,000 5-gallon gas cans and 30,000 cases of bottled water. More than 3,000 generators moved out of the company’s Corsicana and Atlanta DCs, and the transportation team made more than 300 emergency deliveries.
“We are True Value Strong,” Burger said, introducing a video highlighting how Spring (Texas) True Value Hardware and McCoy’s Building Supply weathered the storms.
The General Session also addressed and dismissed what executives referred to as "chatter" and “recent speculation” over reports of the co-op seeking strategic options that include a sale.
“We’ve all heard the chatter in the industry, and while some of our competitors are focused on that, first and foremost we are focused on our strategy,” said True Value CEO John Hartmann. He added the company has a plan “to help you thrive as independent retailers right now and for decades to come. We have a plan that’s working and we won’t let anything distract us.”
(See Burger's comments here.)
The general session featured brief presentations from Tim Mills, senior VP of growth, Heath Ashenfelter, VP of merchandising; Abhinav Shukla, senior VP and COO; and for the first time — senior VP of marketing David Elliott, who described a big change in the marketing arena and a shift to a more digital and more local approach.
The purpose of marketing, Elliott explained, is to create a profitable customer. And toward that end, and after a review of customer profiles, the co-op intends to broaden its marketing efforts to target not only millenials, but all generations — an announcement that generated applause from the audience of dealers. More applause came when Elliott announced the co-op was ending its National Ad Fee — which is currently about 1.4% of warehouse purchases. The new program, kicking off in April, is described as more relevant, customizable and responsive than previous efforts.
The company's "Inspiration Realized" color center, one of the highlights on the show floor, is described as a modular program that fits large and small stores. It features a "paint bar" consulting and mixing area, 1,200 colors and an inspiration area ( see photo above). The co-op is promoting the roll out of the program with a subsidy of about 70% of the cost.
The program was cited as an example of ways the co-op makes life easy for the retailer. "Any discussion about an easy way to improve the performance and profitability of your stores has to include paint," said COO Shukla.
Tim Mills hammered on the value of remodeling. He rolled out examples of stores that saw double-digit growth after a renovation: Town and Country True Value of Morris, Minn.; True Value on 17th in Washington, D.C.; and Mayville (Wisc.) True Value Home & Hardware among them.
Around McCormick Place numerous banners proclaimed "The Value of Now" — the general theme of the Fall Reunion. The event runs through Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Boral expands distribution network
Parksite has added Boral TruExterior Siding & Trim and Versetta Stone to its product lineup in three locations. The company will offer Versetta Stone in the Mid-Atlantic region and the Carolinas through its facilities in Baltimore and Apex, N.C. It also will distribute TruExterior Siding & Trim through its Fargo, N.D., location, reaching the majority of North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Minnesota and northwest Iowa.
“Parksite is a natural fit for our expanding distribution network,” said Jason Quenzer, Director of Sales for Boral Light Building Products. “The company’s go-to-market strategy is very much like our own, with a focus on engagement and working directly with dealers to support and respond to the needs of builders and architects.”
In Fargo, the distributor will offer the full complement of TruExterior Siding & Trim, which is made with the revolutionary poly-ash material that offers a high level of dimensional stability for reduced expansion and contraction, and durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting. Versetta Stone, available through the Baltimore and Apex locations, is a mortarless stone veneer system that provides the beauty and detail of authentic stone masonry with a modern installation method.
“At Parksite, we pride ourselves in building and maintaining successful relationships with our suppliers and customers,” said Bob Higgins, Vice President of Sales for Parksite. “We are excited and privileged to align with an organization with the same philosophies as our own.”
In Chicago, a True Value Reunion
Chicago-based True Value Company will welcome members to its hometown for the Sept. 24-27 Reunion. Included on the agenda – along with the Bargain Burners discount merchandise reception and the Patio Palooza furniture display – is a long list of educational seminars.
Perhaps the cleverest seminar title belongs to: “Inventory Schminventory: Teaching Your Team to Care as Much as You Do,” a seminar slated for 8:30 a.m. on Monday. True Value University Training Theater Sessions will take place on the show floor throughout the Reunion.
During the Sunday Retail Best Practices Closing Keynote speech from U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly. According to the program, his “The Sky is Not the Limit” presentation will share lessons from his record-breaking year in space – “from the leadership and teamwork required in such demanding conditions to the long-term deprivation from loved ones and planet Earth itself.”
The Sunday Retail Best Practices agenda is packed with many more earth-bound presentations on merchandising, technology and digital markeing. True Value Corp. “Conversations” with True Value executives Tim Mills, Heath Ashenfelter and Abhinav Shukla are on the agenda.
REO Speedwagon will perform during a Monday evening welcome reception at the Wintrust Arena, adjacent to McCormick Place.