Pointing to the retail and distribution virtues of focus, readiness, agility – and also, humility – Do it Best Corp. President and CEO Dan Starr delivered a wide ranging address to the remote attendees of the Do it Best virtual market.
The pandemic was a major talking point, as were the co-op’s efforts to keep up with soaring demand, and its record metrics -- warehouse sales of $3.6 billion; net profit increase of 12.6%; and member rebates totaling $128.4 million.
The president of the co-op, which concludes its fiscal year in June, had a lot to talk about in his annual President's Address. Some of the highlights are here:
• On unprecedented demand:
“COVID challenges persisted throughout the fourth quarter despite our very best efforts. For virus-related products, member demand jumped 15 times normal in several categories. We sold through what would have been decades worth of volume in certain products... in under a month.”
Meanwhile, major categories such as lawn & garden, outdoor living, farm and ranch and paint and paint supplies have seen growth “upwards of 50%.”
• On the new MOCE ecommerce platform
“Ecommerce saw record-setting sales for the last quarter, equating to an increase of 142% over the prior year. Fiscal 2020 recorded a total increase of 42% for the year. Our timing with the new platform served us all well and the growth opportunities are about to get even better.”
• On a new ‘Do it Center’ design
“We are very close to opening up a new prototype location for a next generation of store design.” Early results are promising, he said.
• On resiliency
“Our industry has faced challenges with supply chain, health and safety, federal and state mandates, new federal loan programs, and so much more - hitting all of us at lightning speed. And while I won’t pretend it’s been easy, it has been truly rewarding to see how resilient you’ve been throughout it all.”
• On joint venture with Nation’s Best
Investing in Nation’s Best, a growth-oriented retail member, the co-op expects to drive growth through the acquisition of strong players in the industry, Starr said.
“This strategy allows us to play both offense and defense. “The idea of going out and targeting strong businesses that are currently affiliated with Ace, or Orgill, or True Value, or LMC… taking market share in a thriving area like Dallas-Fort Worth is a tremendous benefit to all of us.”
Ramping up the acquisition efforts must respect existing stores’ territories he said. But in the end, given the competition’s efforts in this area, It’s not only the right thing to do, Starr said, it’s the necessary thing to do.
• On humility
“Sometimes we get it wrong. But that hasn’t stopped each of us from standing back up, adapting and continuing on. We’ve learned to control what we can, understand what we can’t and be flexible with whatever comes next.”