DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

CNRG acquires McLendon Hardware

BY HBSDealer Staff

Fourth generation, family-owned McLendon Hardware, a seven-store retailer based in Renton, Washington, has agreed to be acquired by Central Network Retail Group (CNRG).

McLendon Hardware president, Gail McLendon, said the move was inspired by the company’s desire for continued growth throughout the Puget Sound region and beyond.

At present, McLendon employs more than 500 people with stores in Renton, White Center, Tacoma, Woodinville, Kent, Sumner and Puyallup. The Renton store is the largest. It was established in 1926, initially as U.S. Junk Company, and is the longest-standing hardware outpost in Washington state.

“Expert advice, legendary customer service and unmatched product selection have been the hallmarks of McLendon’s success for more than 90 years,” McLendon said. “However, continued if not aggressive growth is essential. CNRG has the financial strength to sustain and expand our business in the Puget Sound Region and beyond.”

The decision to sell McLendons evolved over several years. “Over a lengthy period, McLendon’s looked at many alternatives for keeping our brand culture and legacy intact,” McLendon said. “We were determined to provide stability for our team members and to open new stores.”

CNRG, a  is a multi-format, multi-brand retailer operating 90 hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards in eleven states. CNRG has close ties to Memphis-based distributor Orgill. It was formed in 2011, by Jimmy R. Smith, president of Natchez Home Center and Boyden Moore, president of Tyndale Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Orgill.

McLendon has been operating as a non-branded member of the Ace Hardware co-op.

The transaction is expected to close in April. McLendon’s name will remain the same. The company will continue to be managed by Gail and Mike McLendon and their executive and store manager teams.

CNRG’s Boyden Moore says he is a long-time admirer of McLendon Hardware. The company was looking for expansion in the Pacific Northwest where it currently operates Parkrose Hardware in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington area.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to add McLendon Hardware to CNRG. McLendon is well-known and respected throughout the industry for their great stores, service, and team” Moore said. “We will continue to invest in and grow McLendon’s here and perhaps beyond. It is an iconic business that offers customers something that is becoming rare — expert advice and the broadest selection of hardware items available.”

Since it first opened for business in Renton in 1926, McLendon family members have owned and managed the business. McLendon was honored as an HBSDealer Hardware Store All Star in the inaugural All-Star class of 2011.
 

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Ace’s Innovation Specialist

BY Ken Clark

On a recent day on or near the desk of Maya Schultz, Ace Hardware’s new “Product Innovation” lead, one can find traces of a connected car platform. There’s also an Ergie Shovel, with an ergonomic handle fused to the central pole. Elsewhere, indestructible cables from Fuse Chicken can be found.

It’s Schultz’s job to find the latest and greatest, and that brings some interesting products her way.

“We’re looking for that three-carat diamond in the jewelry case of one-carat diamonds,” she said.

Her title, “Product Innovation,” is a new one for the co-op, and it is aligned with the strategy of creating differentiation between Ace stores and its competitors.

“My big thing is ‘What’s the next big idea?’” she said. “It comes from a variety of inputs: cold calling, sales meetings, and some of it’s awareness of what’s out there and what’s trending.”

To find a winner, there are correlation formulas and hypothesis testing, but also a lot of pure gut feelings, she said.
Among the recent promising products being incubated and cultivated are the Hero brand of men’s cleaning products and the GoSun solar cooker — both of which reflect societal trends that give cause for optimism.

Schultz also invests energy into finding innovation in existing products, and working closely with The Grommet — a new product discovery platform — to bring the latest items to retail shelves in one easy installment. 

There’s a perception, she said, that the only way for product innovations to reach the mainstream is through “Shark Tank” or through one of the big boxes. That’s not the case. Ace, she said, looks to put these innovations on the path to controlled growth, avoiding the “retail death trap” of overreaching.

“We have a bunch of entrepreneurs running our stores,” she said. “If I can help our vendor entrepreneurs succeed, that’s a win-win proposition.”

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A lift for Envision Decking

BY HBSDealer Staff

Tamko Building Products has a new deal with Guardian Building Products  (GBP) to distribute Envision Decking in the eastern United States.

“As Guardian strives to expand its presence in the decking category, we look for companies who not only solve real industry problems, but also provide a complement to us culturally,” said Vendor Program Manager for GBP, Dan Parmelee. “We were fortunate to already have a great relationship with Tamko for roofing, so it was a natural choice to look to them when we wanted to add a new composite decking line for several of our eastern branches.”

Executive VP for Tamko, Tim Whelan said, “We have a long history of working with Guardian and we are thrilled about this recent distribution agreement which provides a new channel for Tamko’s Envision decking to reach customers as we look to continue our growth and success in the composite decking market.”

Guardian will stock Tamko’s Envision and EverGrain composite decking lines in its Cleveland, Ohio; Waterville, Maine; Baltimore, Maryland and Charlotte, North Carolina locations.

# # #

See the results of the HBSDealer decking poll here.
 

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