Jim and Marilyn Lehrer became the owners of Louisville-based Brownsboro Hardware & Paint in June 1998.
And since the day they bought the location, a focus has been placed on staff and customer service. Jim Lehrer says the company’s initiatives have helped ensure Brownsboro’s success. The Kentucky dealer has been recognized by HBSDealer twice as a Hardware All-Star, first in 2011 and then again in 2020.
“Having plenty of great staff to help folks find what they need and get on to their project is essential,” Lehrer told HBSDealer. “We try to meet people at the door, help them assess their needs and then provide a solution.”
The company has 40 employees, including full-time and part-time. During seasonal periods, Brownsboro hires younger employees who are trained in the retail industry while learning the importance of personal service. “That benefits them wherever they go in life,” Lehrer says.
A Do it Best member, the dealer takes care of its seasoned employees as well. Some of Brownsboro’s long-term employees have been with the company for 10, 15, 20 years. “They are the number one reason we have grown to who we are today,” Lehrer points out. In 2011, Brownsboro purchased, remodeled, and opened a second Louisville location.
Brownsboro’s customer base is about 90% DIY and 10% pro. The dealer serves mid to upper-income neighborhoods in the city. In recent years, as Brownsboro has adjusted to the market, new brands have been brought on board including products from Yeti, The Big Green Egg, Traeger grills, and STIHL.
Last year the dealer’s website received an upgrade while it expanded curbside pick-up and delivery programs. Although Brownsboro might be viewed as a traditional neighborhood hardware store to the casual observer, e-commerce plays a big role in its success.
“Selling with our partners through omnichannel sales along with selling on our website is continuing to grow month over month,” Lehrer says. “We have exciting plans to expand that even further in the future.”
Part of Brownsboro’s e-commerce success is keeping its site current and lively. Social Media also plays a key role in Brownsboro continuing to increase its followers and relevance.
For example, during several days of snow and ice this past winter, Brownsboro was inundated with phone calls asking if it carried ice melt, shovels, or sleds.
“We started telling people that we would post information on our social media channels as soon as new shipments came in,” Lehrer says. “We gained a lot of new customers and grew our social media channels as a result.”
Future updates include streamlining its purchasing process with key vendors. “We had a great year in 2020 and demand was way up,” Lehrer explains. “The supply chain was very challenging and we spent a significant amount of time sourcing product.”
Brownsboro is also looking to become more responsive to the needs of customers through online sales and interactions.
“Thanks to our customers and new technology, we have been continually able to grow to meet their everchanging needs,” Lehrer says.
While Brownsboro may not have conquered all of the challenges that a hardware dealer might face, because challenges continue to evolve each year, Lehrer says he thinks his company has done a good job of giving back to the community it serves.
Brownsboro annually helps dozens of charities through special fundraising events. The dealer’s annual EGGFest event has raised more than $175,000 in recent years.
“Every day presents a new challenge and a new opportunity,” Lehrer says.