HARDWARE STORES

Horizon picks a winner

Honors for Welches Mountain Building Supply & PRO Hardware.

BY HBSDealer Staff

There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about delivering products direct to customer. An interesting twist on that concept is in motion at Welches Mountain Building Supply & Pro Hardware, where the team has provided transportation to bring older customers direct to the store.

It’s one example of customer service that helped the Welches, Ore., retailer earn the Horizon Distribution PRO Retailer of the Year honors.

“The team at Welches is involved in nearly every community event in their market. They spend countless hours making Welches a better place to live,” says Mike Dawson, sales manager for Horizon Distribution, Inc., based in Yakima, Washington. “They have a 100 percent commitment to serving their community.”

Owners Bill and Rochelle Simmonds know that superior customer service is one of the most powerful business differentiators in their Welches, Oregon community. In the past, the team has provided transportation to older customers who would visit the hardware store to ensure they got the products they needed and returned home safely.

The business is also incorporating unique, locally crafted merchandise into its inventory. It regularly displays arts and crafts in their store from local artisans, introducing customers to one-of-a-kind products made locally.

The business collects gifts to ensure one local family has a memorable holiday season each year. In addition, Rochelle organizes an annual fundraiser at the local fire station which raises money to supply bike helmets for area children.

Each of the PRO Group distributors nominate a retailer of the year for the annual Paul L Cosgrave award. This year’s winner was  415 PRO Hardware,a Bostwick-Braun dealer.

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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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