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Do it Best CEO Dan Starr described challenges and opportunities.
Dealers line up for "Sneak Peek" discounts on Friday night.
Army pilot Shannon Huffman Polson offered advice on overcoming resistance.
The Do it Best Market took place at the Indiana Convention Center May 17-20.
An exclusive Channellock partnership is now in its 10th year.
The Water Colors hose line from Swan is made in the USA.
A central hallway celebrates accolades earned by co-op members.
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Do it Best revs its engines in Indy

Along with products, deals and education, a co-op delivers guidance for a changing world.

BY Ken Clark

Indianapolis – Do it Best nation put the finishing touches on the co-op’s spring market here Monday. The four-day event hit some high notes with keynote speaker Shannon Huffman Polson, one of the first female Apache helicopter pilots in the U.S. Army. But the bigger ammunition was fired by Do it Best CEO Dan Starr, who shared a vision of a strong co-operative in a changing world.

“Many industries are being impacted by the rapid and profound changes in retail and customer behaviors, and ours is no exception,” Starr said. “Where others see threats, we see opportunities for growth. Successfully understanding and navigating these changes underscores the importance of having the right co-op partner with the right mix of flexible, scalable, affordable and customizable programs available for independent home improvement retailers.”

[See “Do it Best tackles lumber challenges.”]

Sneak Peak event attracted a large crowd of dealers Friday night.

The co-op’s CEO pointed to innovative programs and partnerships designed to help members grow and “achieve their dreams.” Among them: an exclusive partnership (now in its 10th year) with Channellock, enhanced consumer marketing, and more web-based capabilities.

Meanwhile, competing with Amazon and navigating the changes in retail — and geopolitics — can be challenging.

One of those challenges facing the industry as a whole is navigating the impact of the changing landscape of international trade. VP of Marketing Rich Lynch addressed the situation during a media event on Saturday morning.

Tariffs have been part of business planning many times in the history of American business. But according to Lynch, the volume and uncertainty surrounding the latest rounds are highly unusual. “I don’t think we have seen anything like this before,” he said, when asked to describe the practical next steps. “The vendor has a simple choice: pass [the costs] along, or not. Then we’ll have a choice: pass it along, or not. Then the member has a choice.” He added that there will most likely be meaningful price movement along the line.

Meanwhile, he said the common approach to retail among growing independents is to emphasize the customer experience. “People can buy things in a lot of different ways,” Lynch said. “What we’re trying to do is bring things to live.” Two examples — the kind of product innovation found in the markets “Launch Zone” area of innovative ideas. Also, the Do it Best Color Bar program adds color and excitement while boosting “customer experience and relevance in a warm and inviting atmosphere.”

During the weekend event, highlights included Saturday’s Merchandising Preview and Lunch & Learn presentations from retail thought-leader Linda Angelo on helping brick-and-mortar retailers succeed in a rapidly evolving retail environment; and accomplished entrepreneur Mike McKinley on emphasizing the importance of resilience and persistence among leaders.

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