Proud independents in Maine and Massachusetts
State by state, meet the 2018 class of Stihl Hardware All Stars.
It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star.
Each year, HBSDealer solicits nominations from readers and the industry for Hardware All Stars.
And each year, we’re rewarded with a fresh class of high-performing, community-minded, service-oriented businesses worthy of the honor.
During the course of our research, we’ve met dealers who take risks, inspire staff and lift communities — or have what we call the All Star spirit.
Congratulations to all of the 2018 Stihl Hardware All Star honorees. Here’s two stars worth gazing at:
This all-around retail All Star in Patton, Maine, operates in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin. Kayaks, hardware, greenhouses and a drive-through lumberyard are just part of the attraction. “We’ve been fortunate to withstand the online competition,” said Nate Richardson, whose great grandfather founded the business. “And the reason is our ability to change, adapt and differentiate ourselves.” Case in point: a new, 2,000-sq.-ft. hydroponics department that opened as the state voted to decriminalize marijuana use.
When this All Star received the 2018 Small Business of the Year Award, it did what comes natural — it gave back to the community. The $5,000 cash award for winning the Independent Small Business of the Year award (or Indie Award) was pledged to a park revitalization project in Pittsfield, the company’s main branch. The award was a national competition of all kinds of small businesses. “Our community supports us, and we support them,” co-owner Bart Raser said. “It’s nice to know we live in a community that appreciates the value and impact of independent small businesses.”
Waving the flag for the community
K&B True Value planted more than 2,200 flags during the Fourth of July holiday.
One way for a hardware store to embrace its community while celebrating Independence Day is to offer flags. An even better way: give away 2,200 flags.
That was the plan, which was successfully executed, by the team at K&B True Value of Annapolis, Md., this past Fourth of July. And, according to Jared Littmann, owner of K&B True Value, the move generated heart-warming responses from all kinds of people throughout the community.
One customer wrote: “This most iconic symbol of American freedom reminds us who we are as Americans, no matter what injustices or violence are perpetrated against individuals and communities, our democracy will prevail.”
Independence Day wasn’t the only event that called for unity in Annapolis the week of the flag distribution.
“We had been planning on doing this for a few months, but as it turned out, it was less than one week after the shooting at our local newspaper’s offices, killing five journalists,” Littmann wrote in an e-mail to HBSDealer. “The town has been shaken up by it, along with the general political turmoil (this is an election year in Maryland), so it seems that the flag distribution was especially appreciated this year.”
Flags were planted in various neighborhoods next to mailboxes by groups of volunteers, who received a cash incentive from the store. the volunteers included Cub Scouts (packs 422 and 153), high school students raising money for their upcoming prom, and members of the Peggy Stewart Tea Party Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
At the same time, K&B True Value collected 127 flags that were faded and ready to be retired. These flags were turned over to the Cub Scouts, who will conduct a ceremony for proper retirement and disposal.
The flag promotion was tied back to a deal at the store. A small sticker on each flag identified K&B True Value and promised 50% off deals.
New software drives ‘true value’
True Value is optimizing its inventory levels and replenishment efforts with a new demand forecasting solution.
True Value, the Chicago-based distributor, built its reputation on learning how to anticipate customer demand. But when the company needed a more accurate way of replenishing inventory based on actual customer buying trends, particularly for highly variable categories like seasonal, weather dependent and novelty items, True Value embarked on a strategy to revamp its demand planning and replenishment processes.
By adding JDA Demand, True Value gained a single, accurate, enterprise-wide view of customer demand. More granular forecasting capabilities drill down to the hourly and item levels, driving more dynamic and variable demand categories. Previous systems would miss trend changes and the opportunity to adjust demand forecasts.
Since deploying JDA Demand, True Value has seen millions of dollars in inventory reductions, while sustaining an industry-leading first-time fill rate and improving turns on its inventory investment. With fewer stock-outs, True Value can deliver a better customer experience, leading to increased sales and satisfaction, according to the company.
“We needed a better way to predict demand more accurately,” said Lyndsi Lee, divisional VP of inventory and global sourcing, True Value. “JDA has surpassed our expectations and been a true partner, driving inventory reductions we can choose to reinvest as well as improving our ability to forecast demand.”
True Value plans to expand its JDA footprint this year with a replenishment planning module that will not only forecast demand changes more quickly, but also react and replenish faster, according to the company.
The deployment of the solution coincides with True Value’s overall growth strategy. In the spring, the company sold a majority stake to Washington D.C.-based private equity company ACON Investments. Through the deal, ACON Investments now owns 70% equity of True Value Company. Current True Value members kept 30% equity, and received a $196 million cash payout.