Hardware Show organizers declare success
More than 2,800 exhibitors and nearly 30,000 industry professionals from 32 countries converged on the Las Vegas Convention Center for the National Hardware Show, held May 4-6. The Show, in its 71st edition, offered members of the hardware/home improvement industry the opportunity to discover new products, network, learn about industry trends and more.
“This year’s Show was, once again, a successful one,” says Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show. “We were thrilled to once again see so many industry professionals from all over the world, and from the feedback we’ve received so far, there were many new business relationships forged, new products discovered and best practices shared that will have an immediate impact on businesses across the industry.”
Attendees and exhibitors alike enjoyed their time at the Show and were impressed with the large crowd and positive atmosphere. Greg Schlecht, owner of Greg’s True Value in St. Francis, Wisconsin, was looking for new products and new ideas. “It’s always refreshing to see the new items that are on the market,” he says.
The Magna Industries booth stayed busy as attendees checked out everything the company had to offer. Company president Todd Whited says it was his 25th hardware show, and the first day of this year’s Show was probably the company’s best ever. “We had a spectacular day,” he says.
As in past years, the Show was divided into 15 product categories to help attendees and media navigate through the thousands of products and vendors. It was spread throughout the convention center’s North and Central halls, with the Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ category outside in the Silver Lot.
The Energy Efficient, Made in America, Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery and Eco-Friendly areas continue to be popular, and in addition to exhibitors showcasing these products on the Show floor, product displays from each of these categories were showcased in the Featured Product Gallery, a new area that combined multiple new products displays into one area. Along with those product displays, the Featured Product Gallery also included New Product World, and just a few steps away, Inventors Spotlight and New Product Launch.
Conrad Traut, representing inventor Greg Wiseman of Wisick, LLC, showcased American-made Gallery Magic, which is a magnetic picture-hanging system.
“We wanted to try to just do the right thing,” Traut says of producing the products in the U.S. “From just an ethical standpoint, we want to focus on American jobs and American quality.”
Outside, Smokehouse Products was demonstrating its smoker box, which can be connected to any grill or other outdoor cooking device to smoke foods. “We’ve had quite a bit of good interest in our new one,” company representative Amy Jensen says.
The National Hardware Show was the place to find products source from companies from all over the world. This year, exhibitors from China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan and Israel to name a few, were in attendance.
Slide show: Scenes from the National Hardware Show
The annual National Hardware Show was in full swing May 4-6 in Las Vegas, this year with a brand new Wednesday through Friday schedule.
As usual, dealers, suppliers and industry enthusiasts crowded the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. So did interesting products and displays.
Here are a few of the highlights.
Retail profile: Reflections on hardware leadership
There was no mention of Peter Drucker or any other business theorist during the retail leadership panel discussion here at the National Hardware Show. Neither were there any platitudes like "one plus one equals three."
Instead, three retailers shared their real-world thoughts on what has led to inspired teamwork based on their own experiences in the home improvement industry.
Mentorship was a clear common theme expressed by all the panel members, including Jim Rivas, director of store operations for Friedman's Home Improvement. Family values, business passion, and a drive to succeed were also cited as key ingredients.
In Rivas' case, mentorship began when his career started at The Home Depot. A driven employee, Rivas rose to a position of store manager at the age of 24. "I was in charge of $68 million business a clue of what to do with it," he said. "Couldn't have survived without help along the way and good people in my path."
The panelists — also including Josiah Gates, VP of retail innovation at Aubochon Hardware, and Christian Herrick, president & CEO of Randy's Do it Best — took very different paths during their careers. Gates pointed to his early life on a farm as an important education. And Herrick was a missionary in Alaska before turning to business and home improvement. But the panelists share many common ideas on leadership and success.
And according to Rivas, one of the biggest steps taken on his own leadership journey was journey into fatherhood. "The change for me in my leadership role and growth was becoming a father, probably changed me the most out of everything in my life," he said.
That type of embrace of family values can be seen at Aubuchon Hardware, said Gates. "What got us where we are today are strong family values," he said. "That's attitude and willingness to learn."
Gates pointed to trust, integrity and authenticity as key qualities of leadership. As a store manager, Gates said this reputation can be nurtured by never asking employees to do things that you wouldn't do yourself. And when the move to the front office occurred, the challenge was to build trust with a new group — all the store managers and the people in the head office.
"When you have that it makes it so much easier to move the company forward," he said.
Building trust Is one of the keys to the leadership style of Herrick, whose life experience includes missionary work in Alaska. Also important: empathy and flexibility.
"As a business we always say family first, and we really live that," he said. And support for employees who suffer illness in their family is one of the reasons for high morale at Randy's Do it Best, he said.
On the question of hiring for attitude or hiring for aptitude, Herrick had this advice: "You can't teach attitude. We learned that the hard way."
Inspiring trust across a business produces the very tangible benefit of open and honest communication.
"Silence is the worst thing that can happen in your business," said Rivas. "A bunch of people nodding their heads and agreeing with you, that's not going to get you where you need to go."