HARDWARE STORES

Wisconsin hardware store closes after 55 years

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In Jefferson, Wis., a local mainstay is shutting its doors after 55 years. Though it wasn’t suffering any extreme hardships, Punzel Hardware has announced its plans to close early this year after owner Jeff Punzel got a more lucrative job offer that will free up time for him to spend with his family, the Wisconsin Daily Union reported.

According to the news source, the store was surviving relatively well, but profit margins were tight for the independent.

The store has been in the family since 1958, when Punzel’s father, Lyle, purchased it. It opened in 1959 as a Gambles hardware store and continued on as an independent when Gambles sold out in 1980. It would later enter a franchise agreement with Trustworthy Hardware, and in 2007, Jeff and his wife, Toni, closed the original store and took over the True Value store in his hometown, opening it up as Punzel Ace Hardware. It went independent again early in 2013 as Punzel Hardware & Rental.

“Though the name changed many times, the family spirit and dedication to serving the Jefferson community never changed,” Jeff Punzel told the news source. “We have seen many faces come and go as our customer base has changed over the years, and we appreciate the loyalty and dedication our customers have shown us.”

“We went fully independent at the beginning of this year, and I wish we had done that years ago,” Toni Punzel added. “There is ample opportunity in this market for an independent hardware store, but it isn’t going to be this one.”

The store will remain open for the time being, with liquidation-level discounts on its stock and rental items. Inventory is expected to sell out in January or February.

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At Blish-Mize, a fifth-generation CEO

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Atchison, Kan.-based hardware distributor Blish-Mize Co. announced that Jonathan D. Mize has been appointed CEO, succeeding his father, John H. Mize. 

For the past few years, the younger Mize has served as president and COO and previously served in other officer capacities. He will be the fifth generation of the Mize family to hold the title of CEO. He also serves as president & COO of Hardware House, a subsidiary of Blish-Mize Co.

“Under my father’s leadership as CEO for the past 30 plus years, he has moved our company forward and kept it growing and profitable, and I look forward to more progress,” said Jonathan Mize. "As we enter our 143rd year in business, we have a great team, and we are in a great position to continue to help our customers be successful in hardware retailing for many more years to come.”

John H. Mize will become executive chairman of Blish-Mize Co. and will remain chairman of the company’s board of directors. 

“As we look to the future, I can honestly say that I am very confident that Blish-Mize will continue to thrive,” said John Mize. “During his more than two decades of service, Jonathan has been involved in the promoting and hiring of a strong management team to help him run the company in the future.  Jonathan knows the business, lives our core values, and has the respect and admiration of the company’s officers, directors, employees, suppliers, and valued customers.  In short, he has earned the right to lead Blish-Mize as CEO. His movement up the leadership ladder of our company comes from good old-fashioned hard work, teamwork, enthusiasm and his drive for results.  As his supervisor, mentor and father, I could not be happier for him or more pleased for our company.”

Blish-Mize customers include building materials dealers, lumberyards, home centers, hardware stores and paint stores. They are also a fulfillment center for many online retailers. They provide more than 50,000 SKUs and represent more than 1,000 manufacturers. The company prides itself on a customer-centric business philosophy.

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Merit Distribution names new category manager

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Spartanburg, S.C.-based Merit Distribution Group hired Paul Van Noy as category manager, responsible for the direct management of vendor lines including sales growth, profitability and inventory rationalization.

"We are very pleased to have Paul joining the Lancaster team," said Mitch Jolley, CEO of the Merit Distribution Group. "As an industry veteran, Paul has a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will bring immediate benefits to our customers and vendors."

Merit operates the Lancaster, Merit Supply, Merit Trade Source and Marit Pro trade names.

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