True Value’s CEO emphasizes investments

The former co-op crafts a Reunion theme: “Built for This”

BY HBSDealer Staff

True Value President and CEO John Hartmann would like to emphasize a point about the company’s supply chain investments. The Chicago-based distributor – not the retailer — is picking up the tab.

“I want to put this in bold and in italics and underline this – my pencil is ripping through the paper: our investments are not on the backs of our retailers, “ he told HBSDealer. “There’s no decrease in dividends, no increase in prices. This is an investment the company is making.”

Chief among the company’s investments is a $150 million supply chain optimization project that includes a 1.4 million square feet distribution center near Wilkes-Barre, Pa. It’s scheduled to open later this year.

Other big investments are taking place in the area of people and technology. The company’s field sales team is being reorganized and expanded to serve new and existing customers. And inventory management technology and marketing support for stores – including local online pricing – are rolling out to dealers.

These kinds of investments descend from the company’s transformation – the blockbuster sale of 70% of the company to ACON Investments in April of 2018. That move shifted True Value from a co-op structure to an open-to-all distributor model. In doing so, it released nearly $230 million to former members. “Releasing that equity to our retailers more than a year ago – that’s what it’s all about,” Hartmann said.

Even so, True Value nation is looking ahead to growth, not back at the transaction.

“People aren’t talking about the ACON transaction very much anymore,” Hartmann said. “Time has passed and True Value has kept all of its commitments. True Value has done exactly what it said it would do. We’ve changed our structure, but not our relationships.”

The company’s investments and its programs are paying dividends, he said, pointing to recent recognition from the J.D. Power Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study in which True Value and Ace tied for top honors.

In the interview with HBSDealer, Hartmann offered congratulations to both True Value store owners and Ace store owners for their recognition. “We’re not about the flag, we’re about the independent retailer,” he said. “So congratulations to both groups.”

The company’s upcoming Reunion in Chicago Oct. 3-6 will hammer on the theme of “Built for This.” Hartmann explained: “The theme represents the coming together of what our members do every day in their communities, and what we do to support them.”

# # #

True Value Reunion

• When: Oct. 3-6
• Where: Chicago, McCormick Place
• Theme: “Built for This.”
• Entertainment: Chicago, the rock band.



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