DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

True Value gets ‘Future Ready’

The hardware distributor welcomes dealers to a Reunion in Denver.

BY HBSDealer Staff

True Value Company’s Fall Reunion promises a weekend of products, education and networking here at the Colorado Convention Center.

With a theme of “Future Ready,” the Sept. 27-30 event in Denver will mark the first Reunion since the company underwent a major restructuring that included a sale of 70% of the company to ACON Investments, returning more than $200 million to members in the process. The company is hosting retailers regardless of affiliation with a slate of buying opportunities, educational sessions and discounted prices on merchandise.

Several dealers interviewed by HBSDealer during the Reunion’s opening-night Bargain Burners Reception in the exhibit hall explained that they were going about their business as usual.

“We’re all curious about what’s going to happen, but for now it all seems normal,” said Matt Martin, of Ross True Value in El Reno, Okla. “We just got here, but so far it looks pretty similar.”

Also from Ross True Value, Chase Smith said he appreciates True Value’s new approach to marketing, which allows the individual dealer to pick and choose a method that works for the individual dealer. “One of the biggest things for us, since we’re in a small town in Oklahoma, is that we’re more rural. So certain things that are advertised nationally don’t work for us. So now, we can digitally go in and target our ads for people in our area. It’s been a big change. We’ve definitely seen an increase in foot traffic. It’s definitely helped generate a lot more interest in the store.”

A big talking point in Denver is the impact of the ACON Investments deal.

At the Bargain Burners Reception, Jim Waters from Waters True Value of Salina, Kansas, said he knew the ins and outs of the transaction pretty well – he was on the co-op board that approved it. “I thought then that it was a smart thing to do, and I haven’t changed my mind,” he said. “There was a heck of a lot of consideration. It was not an easy decision. But I very much believed, and still do, that it was the right decision.”

True Value Company President and CEO John Hartmann and other True Value executives are expected to share their insights on the company and its direction during a Friday afternoon general session. “The transaction we made earlier this year changed the independent hardware industry in a way it has never experienced before,” said Hartmann in a recent press release. “Our doors are now open to all independent hardware retailers across the globe.”

More than 80% of True Value dealers voted to adopt the deal back in April. One retailer, out of a dozen or so interviewed during the  reception, was unenthusiastic about the transaction. Ryver Hankins of Hankins Hardware True Value of Portland, Ore., said he was “disheartened” by the loss of the previous True Value member-owned structure.

Meanwhile, the Reunion continues with nearly one million sq. ft. of exhibits, and an open-door policy for dealers. Jean Niemi, VP of communications for True Value, said this Reunion’s “Future Ready” slogan was selected partly because it reflects the need to adapt in a changing world.

“We’ve gone through a transition this year that has positioned us to be future ready,” she said. “Every business has to be flexible and ready to change as the future dictates.”

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