Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: A Lowe’s growth plan

In 1980, Robert Strickland and Leonard Herring visited Wall Street to talk growth.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Nov. 10, 1980 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, ran the headline: “Florida, Texas are focus of Lowe’s expansion plan.” In the photo, Lowe’s Chairman Robert Strickland and President Leonard Herring posed for our photographer outside the New York Stock Exchange. The two men had plans to double the footprint of the company, especially in fast-growing Florida and Texas.

Since that article appeared, the company’s footprint has grown by a factor of 10.

At the time, Lowe’s had 213 stores and had just announced plans to grow its store count by 10% annually. That marked a little bit of a slowdown from the 13% annual growth in stores the chain produced in the 1970s.

Whatever they did, it worked. In the 2018 HBSDealer Top 300 Industry Scoreboard, the company operated 2,152 stores. That figure will, however, decline somewhat in 2019. Read about the company’s plan to close some underperforming stores here.

Some of the top-of-mind growth ideas from 1980 included:

  • Promoting specialty centers with the stores. The article reported: “Lowe’s will also embrace more concept celling, promoting departments like specialty stores, with themes such as ‘Lowe’s, Your Security Center’ or ‘Lowe’s, Your Insulation Center.’”
  • Finding the right markets. In the early 1980s, Lowe’s strategy called for expansion in markets with between 20,000 to 120,000 households.
  • Nurturing new customers. “We have targeted women, young adult householders, and DIYers as more important new customers for the 1980s,” Strickland said.
  • Frugal financing. Herring said the company expected to finance its expansion through the 1980s without increasing long-term debt significantly.
  • Focus on the core, the residential building supply retailer of the 1980s. “We are not going after asset-plays, manufacturing adventures, or any other ‘grass-looks-greener’ pursuits,” Strickland said.

HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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Throwback Thursday: A play in the Poconos

Pennsylvania-based Butz Building Center was riding high in 1987.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Oct. 5, 1987 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, detailed the expansion plans of Palmerton, Pa.-based Butz Building Centers, which at the time was experiencing its best year ever.

The company had just opened its fourth store — a 10,000 sq.-ft. store in Brodheadsville, near the Pocono resort town of Stroudsburg. The story under the headline “Butz opens new unit to service consumers in Pa. resort town,” explained that the area that was experiencing significant housing growth from homeowners tired of paying New York and New Jersey prices.

It also explained the pro-oriented company’s plan to expand its sales to homeowners and DIYers. To help with the effort, Butz hired Joe Nigito, a manager with experience running a Rickel’s home improvement store in New Jersey.

“We’re not trying to de-emphasize the importance of contractors to our business,” said Andrew Eckert, president of the company. “They are our bread and butter. But we just want to increase our cash and carry trade.”

The article from 1987 also explained one of the company’s previous challenges, in the words of Eckert: “We were cherry picked before [by consumers]. But this new store is a new direction in retailing for us and represents a commitment to get our retail percentage up.”

Eckert described the Pocono area as “a boom town at the moment.”

But the boom turned to bust for Butz in 1995, when the company closed all four of its locations.

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Throwback Thursday: Birth of a Station

The launch of HGTV in 1994; plus, a star is born on HCN TV in 2009.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Oct. 10, 1994 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, covered the launch of a new cable network that planned to provide 24-hour programming. The name of the network: HGTV, or the Home and Garden Television Network.

The article appeared under the headline: “DIY to flood the airwaves,” and included a quote from HGTV President Ken Lowe.

“If you look at the track record of just a few of the high profile shows, like those on PBS, they’ve had rating success and advertising support,” Lowe said.

Among the original half-hour programs were “Rooms for Improvement;” “Dream House;” and “Star Gardens.”

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BONUS THROWBACK: Check out this video of current HGTV Star David Bromstad from a 2009 interview on HCN TV, the forerunner of HBSDealer TV.


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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