Do it Best’s ‘State of the Union’
Shareholder-address highlights from the co-op's President Dan Starr.
Indianapolis — Overcoming the one-two punch of lumber deflation and tweet-driven tariff escalation, Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best Corp. rallied for increases in warehouse sales, up 2.6%; and member rebate value, up 5%.
The task of delivering the news, along with the state of the co-op, fell once again to President and CEO Dan Starr, who gave his address to shareholders Sunday night, just before the company distributed a member rebate of $114 million — $88 million in cash.
Those results, he said, required adjustment and effort.
“We, along with the entire industry, took a couple big shots to the face,” Starr said. “First was the rapid and unprecedented drop in the value of lumber during the first half of the year. The second was the tweet-driven implementation and escalation of tariffs over the course of the entire fiscal year.”
Among the company’s responses to lumber deflation, he said, were renegotiations of contracts with mills and managing reloads with lower levels of inventory in order to reduce risk. Do it Best also realigned its LBM leadership team. Also, the merchandising team brought agility to bear on the tariff situation, successfully managing five times as many price changes as normal over a four month period, Starr said.
These moves, according to Starr, helped turn what was looking to be a $10 million shortfall into a net profit that exceeded its target by 3%.
Starr also dedicated a portion of his address to Do it Best’s leadership in a competitive distribution industry. He celebrated the company’s comprehensive paint program, its vendor partnerships and its return-on-investment for members. He pointed to statistics that show 55 cents of every dollar of gross profit are distributed back to members.
Starr also described a shifting business climate where retail success requires more than just suggestions from co-op leadership, but careful application of data and resources.
“While we continue to believe you are best positioned to judge what is best for your market and brand, we need to be present, advocating for what we believe you should do,” he said.
Starr concluded with a memorial to Don Wolf, the former Hardware Wholesale Inc. leader and Do it Best CEO who died last month. Starr shared Wolf’s keys to a happy and productive life:
- Treat others as you would like to be treated.
- Be happy and have an optimistic attitude.
- Think for yourself. Don’t be a follower.
- Hoe to the end of the row. Finish the job.
“He just wanted to help and inspire others,” Starr said.
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