HARDWARE STORES

Mac’s Hardware joins forces with CNRG

Fourteen-store Mac’s looks for synergy and growth in the upper Midwest.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Central Network Retail Group (CNRG) expanded its footprint into the upper Midwest through a deal with Moorhead, Minn.-based Mac’s Hardware, a family owned 50-year-old business serving farm, home and industrial customers through 14 locations.

Mac’s Hardware shareholder and Chairman, Chuck McWethy, said the move was driven by the company’s desire to provide future opportunities to expand the Mac’s footprint and better serve its customers. At present, Mac’s employs almost 200 associates and operates fourteen independent hardware stores located in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Mac’s Hardware was established in 1965 by Otto McWethy, Chuck’s grandfather, as a provider of surplus goods.

“Unique product selection and attention to the needs of the local, agricultural-based communities where we operate have been the hallmarks of Mac’s success for more than 50 years,” McWethy said. “CNRG has the financial strength to sustain and expand our business in the future and we believe this combination will be a tremendous benefit to our customer base.”

Mac’s Hardware – which carries the slogan, “Not just another hardware store” — will continue to operate under its existing brand name and all associates interested in continuing in their current positions will become part of the CNRG team. Mac’s has stores in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

CNRG, a is a multi-format, multi-brand retailer operating 104 hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards in 14 states. CNRG is wholly owned by Tyndale Advisors, a subsidiary of Orgill, Inc.

CNRG President John Sieggreen, said the network is excited about the opportunity to expand into the upper Midwest. “We are looking forward to bringing the possibility of expansion to the Mac’s brand,” Sieggreen said. “Beyond just implementing some business practices we know will benefit the Mac’s brand, we are also excited to bring some of what Mac’s does well back to other brands in our company where we serve similar customers. This partnership with Mac’s Hardware takes CNRG over the century mark in store count. We are very pleased with what we have been able to accomplish in the last seven years since CNRG was founded and look forward to continued growth.”

CNRG acquired Renton, Wash.-based McLendon Hardware in April of 2017, and it acquired 28-store Marvin’s Home Centers in August 2015.

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Meet the 2018 Ace Hardware All Star

Intown Ace Hardware gets an assist from a Children’s Miracle Network patient

BY Ken Clark

There’s something about Intown Ace Hardware that makes visitors feel happy. Employees look happy, too. Even visiting retailers on educational missions from out of town notice the positive vibe.

“There is just some kind of energy in here,’ said Dave Jones, owner. “I don’t know exactly what it is, but if I could bottle it, I think I’d be on the Forbes list. We have an eclectic product mix and a layout that makes our store a fun place for people to shop.”

Ace Hardware Corp. has also noticed something special about Intown Ace Hardware. Intwon was a 2012 “Coolest Hardware” honoree. And at the co-op’s fall market, Ace bestowed upon Jones the title of “2018 Ace All-Star Retailer.” The award is given each year to an owner or owners of one retailer for its extraordinary fundraising, leadership skills, innovation and commitment to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Ace’s vendor partner Duracell is donating $25,000 in Intown Ace’s name to the store’s hometown hospital, Health Care of Atlanta. “That’s the real benefit of the award,” said Jones. “A check in our name to the hospital.”

Intown Ace’s path to extraordinary fundraising was fueled by a diminutive ambassador of the Children’s Miracle Network, nine-year-old Parker Grelecki, the Ace Hardware Foundation’s fundraising “All Star” poster child of 2015.

Parker Grelecki, in 2015.

Parker, lives in the area. And his appearances in the store put a friendly face on Ace’s fundraising efforts. “He’s a live wire,” Jones said. “He would go behind the counter, get on the radio, and he just charmed the heck out of everybody. Seeing him and understanding his story made it very easy for all the cashiers and the whole team to get behind it.”

Parker’s story is one of overcoming adversity. He was born with excessive fluid in his brain, a condition that has required therapy from a very young age and multiple operations.

About four years ago, the store stepped on the fundraising accelerator. Since then, annual fundraising grew from $495 to more than $31,000. It started with a simple dollar raffle for grills, and progressed to “round up” donations — customers agreeing to let the store keep the change for a good cause. Also at Intown and many other Ace stores around the country, blue buckets are a symbol of charity. For a $5 contribution to CMN, customers get a bucket, plus 20% off any merchandise that they can squeeze into it. Intown sold about 330 CMN buckets last year.

Intown’s annual fundraising goal is to achieve a spot in the top 10 of Ace single-store retailers. For these 10 stores – and also the top 5 multi-store Ace retailers – Duracell contributes a $10,000 donation to each store’s local CMN hospital. In the latest tally, Intown was comfortable in the fourth position. (Sitting at the top was Cypress Ace Hardware of Houston, the 2017 Ace All-Star honoree.)

Receiving the All-Star award, which considers fund-raising as one of several factors, was a complete surprise to Jones. “Parker’s dad sprung it on me,” he said.

Intown Ace Hardware’s approach serves as an example of the kind of community involvement that Ace CEO John Venhuizen encouraged during the co-op’s recent convention in Chicago. “We have to remember it’s way bigger than just money,” he said. “We’ve got to make distinctive impacts in the communities we serve.”

Jones says collecting for charity through a “Round-Up” program at the point of sale is a concept that plays well everywhere. “At dealer events, we talk about what we’re doing and how easy it is. It’s painless. The money rolls in and it’s a feel good thing for everybody.”

One particular advantage that Intown enjoys is proximity to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which has built a reputation as a facility that cares about helping kids, regardless of their ability to pay, he said. Only about 2.5 miles separates the hospital from the hardware store. “So many people in the community have been touched by that hospital and have received over-the-top care,” Jones said. “Our fund-raising gives many of them an easy way to give back. “

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Award for 415 PRO Hardware

The Pennsylvania retailer earns the Cosgrave Memorial Award.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Named for a Pennsylvania highway that leads to its Dallas, community, 415 PRO Hardware’s drive to succeed has paid off with a major honor —  the 2018 Paul L. Cosgrave Memorial Award.

The award is bestowed annually by the Denver-based PRO Group network of distributors to a retailer based on its success in customer service and retail operations. This year’s honoree is part of the family of The Bostwick-Braun Company based in Toledo, Ohio, which has recognized 415 PRO Hardware as its 2017 Retailer of the Year.

The PRO Group released the following description of 415 PRO Hardware:

Over the course of just two years, 415 PRO Hardware has become an astoundingly successful home center destination in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

415 PRO Hardware is being honored by Denver-based PRO Group, Inc. as the 2018 Paul L. Cosgrave Memorial Award Winner for its success in customer service and retail operations.

Additionally, the company is the 2017 PRO Hardware Retailer of the Year for The Bostwick-Braun Company based in Toledo, Ohio.

“415 PRO Hardware has quickly established themselves as one of the best at what they do,” says Jerry Clasey, president of the Hardware Business Unit for The Bostwick-Braun Company. “Kurt Fetterman leads a strong group of employees who maintain some of the highest standards of excellence in every aspect of the business. Everyone at 415 PRO Hardware is all in every day with their outstanding customer service and dedication to the store’s long-term success.”

After many years working as a local landscaper, Kurt Fetterman filled a big community need by opening 415 PRO Hardware in April 2016. The new hardware store owner has been in tune with his community’s needs from the beginning. On day one, hundreds of customers walked through the door.

A keen and thoughtful businessman, Fetterman bases company decisions on research and the needs of his community. Fetterman is strategic in coming up with ways to keep products top of mind for customers. For example, he puts a large emphasis on his endcaps and merchandising displays by altering them with seasonal items or new products so his customers don’t ever miss out.

Additionally, he’s continuously improving his knowledge of the industry and his customer base to make 415 PRO Hardware the best possible. Fetterman frequently meets with local contractors to remain the go-to shop for paint and sundries. He makes the extra effort to stock the products they want. He also met another community need by adding a grilling niche.

“Kurt is always thinking about how to solve a problem or make adjustments in the store,” Kirk Komendat, Bostwick-Braun’s eastern regional sales manager, says. “He’s very tuned in to the needs of his customers and makes quick adjustments to meet those needs. He’s constantly looking for new ways to better serve his customers.”

415 PRO Hardware is known as a family business in its community. Fetterman credits his wife, Lisa, his children, Colin and Lily, and his parents, John and Cookie, for their support in helping the business succeed. Family members can often be found working in the store and representing the business out in the community.

In addition to providing Dallas residents with their home improvement product needs, Fetterman keeps 415 PRO Hardware involved with the community in other ways. The business donates products, financial resources and event space to several philanthropic organizations including the Dallas Lions Club, the local American Legion post, the Eagle Scouts and many more.

“There is such a hometown feel here, and it’s so rewarding to be part of the community,” Fetterman says.

415 PRO Hardware will be formally honored at The Bostwick-Braun Company’s 2018 Fall Dealer Market, Sept. 20-22, in Toledo, Ohio.

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