TV’s Bryant talks family values
Alan Bryant is the newest addition to the True Value Hardware Co. board of directors. The president of Bryant Homecenters in California spoke withHCNabout his three-location family business and what it’s like, at the age of 44, to be the youngest member of the True Value board.
HCN: You appear in an add with the slogan "Master of all things Hardwarian?" Does that describe you?
Bryant: I’m wearing a badge that says that.
HCN: Running a hardware store is not easy. Why do you do it?
Bryant: The hardware store is a critical part of small town America. It’s a gathering place. To be the owner of the local hardware store and make a difference in the community is a big draw to the younger generation.
HCN: A restaurant franchise might have tens of SKUs. A hardware store has thousands. What’s the key to managing everything?
Bryant: There is a lot to learn. Someone from another industry might be daunted. People wonder how you know so many different things. You definitely need to surround yourself with knowledgeable people. My brother [Paul] and I both started in the lumberyard stacking two-by-fours. Our father did us a great service by making us work through the business like everybody else. It was many years working side by side next to some really knowledgeable people.
HCN: You’re 44. What’s it like to be the youngest member of the True Value board of directors?
Bryant: I’m excited to be a part of that, and maybe add a little younger viewpoint to the board. It’s exciting to be part of something successful. Our goals are to expand membership and make it easier for people to open new stores. One of the key things to me is trying to make a difference and allowing me to be part of something bigger.
HCN: How has the business changed from the previous generation to your generation?
Bryant: It’s been interesting to watch the growth of the company with my father, and then getting to the point where we are now working on the technology side — social media and online shopping 24/7, for instance. We have great ways of gathering data through loyalty programs, things that previous generations never thought about doing.
HCN: What about the Yellow Pages?
Bryant: That, too. The days of putting an ad in the newspaper and hoping everyone sees it are long gone.
84 Lumber builds (and bids) American
Las Vegas — In the not-too-distant future, 84 Lumber sees itself giving its potential customers two bids — one regular bid, and one bid consisting exclusively of American-made products.
When it happens, builders may be surprised at the similarity in total costs, according to Jeff Nobers, VP marketing for the Eighty Four, Pa.-based pro dealer.
The all-American bid system is one of the ideas stemming from 84 Lumber’s new initiative to encourage builders and consumers to buy American when building — called "We Build American."
A group of 84 Lumber executives were joined at the International Builders’ Show by Marnie Oursler, president of Marnie Homes of Bethany Beach, Del., who founded We Build American and recruited 84 Lumber to join her efforts to promote the concept.
"If we get other builders on board, we can make a difference," said Oursler, referring to the creation of more jobs in the United States.
The We Build American website already lists approximately 180 companies that sell American-made building materials and products.
"We know there are [more] vendors out there we may not be aware of," said Nobers. Builders who are willing to construct homes with at least 95% U.S.-made materials are also encouraged to sign up.
Additionally, 84 Lumber is planning a prototype store that will showcase U.S.-made building products. Chief operating officer Frank Cicero toldHCNthat the LBM chain is looking at a location in an area where the company has a high concentration of stores, such as Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; or Virginia.
Nobers stressed that 84 Lumber was taking a "big tent" view of the We Build American initiative. "This just can’t be an 84 Lumber thing," he said. "We think everyone should take a look at this."
Orchard strikes back, sues Depot
Back in June, Home Depot said it intended to defend its position as power tool market share leader. Now the giant chain finds itself a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Orchard Supply Hardware.
In a 43-page complaint, San Jose, Calif.-based Orchard said it’s being iced by power tool makers Milwaukee and Makita at the urging of the world’s largest home improvement retailer. "Orchard Supply vs. Home Depot, Milwaukee Electric Tool and Makita USA" was filed in December in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. OSH claims the defendants are running an unlawful group boycott.
"Milwaukee and Makita both unexpectedly cut off all further supplies to Orchard at around the same time in June 2012, doing so very shortly after Home Depot had publicly announced that it planned to lock up the supply of key hardware products in order to counter the competitive threat posed by Amazon and other online retailers," reads the complaint.
Included as Exhibit 4 in the complaint is an article that appeared June 7 onHomechannelnews.com, "Home Depot will defend its lead in power tools." In the article, Craig Menear, VP merchandising told investors and analysts that Home Depot is developing strategic relationships with suppliers.
According to a Home Depot spokesman, all is fair in the power tool aisle. "We’ll present the specifics of our defense in the proper forum," said Stephen Holmes of Home Depot. "But I can assure you that The Home Depot is committed to fair competition."
Milwaukee and Makita, which declined comment, account for 50% of all sales of 12-volt impact drivers in the United States, the complaint said. They combine for 46% of reciprocating saws and 44% of 12-volt cordless tools and combo kits.
Without Milwaukee and Makita products, Orchard said its ability to remain a viable competitor in the power tool market is threatened, especially when it comes to selling to tradesmen. Orchard estimates its losses attributable to the cutoff at about $2 million per year.
Furthering the controversy, the complaint alleges that Ace Hardware Corp. and other wholesalers are also being denied Milwaukee and Makita products, but an Ace spokeswoman dismissed the idea: "Makita and Milwaukee both enjoy excellent relations with Ace Hardware Corp. and our stores," she said.
It’s going to take the courts to figure it all out.