Throwback Thursday: End of an era
The Jan. 15, 2007, issue of Home Channel News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported “Nardelli Era Ends At Home Depot.” It was the page-one cover story and one of the most-clicked articles on the company’s website.
Those in the home improvement industry back in 2007 will certainly remember the historic changing of the guard.
From the article:
“In what the company called a ‘mutual agreement,’ Bob Nardelli resigned from his position as Home Depot chairman, president and CEO on Jan. 2. But not without walking out the door with a severance package worth about $210 million, including $20 million in cash – a reminder of what became a great divide between Nardelli and the company.”
The article also pointed to sales growth at Depot during the Nardelli — nearly doubling from $45.7 billion to $81.5 billion in seven years. Profits increased 123% over the same period. However, critics decried a top-down management style that clashed with the company’s culture.
At the time of his ascension to CEO, little was known about Frank Blake outside Home Depot and General Electric, his previous employer. And little did anyone realize that Blake would in a few years make regular appearances on business media lists of “best CEOs.”
Blake was succeeded by Craig Menear on Nov. 1, 2014.
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Did you have memories of Nardelli or Blake? Share with us here.
Here's my memory of the era
Here's my memory of the era of the Nardelli days at Depot: Me--walking into a store on Saturday to buy something for a home project, and looking around for an orange apron, anywhere...and shouting "Hellooooooo out there." "Is anyone around to help me?"
Throwback Thursday: Show time with John Walker
The March 22, 1976, issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, included coverage of the first-ever Home Center Show, which took place in Chicago.
NHCN photographers captured this shot of John A. Walker (left), Lowe’s executive VP of sales and profits, conversing with J. Roger Friedman, president of Lebhar-Friedman, the parent company of HBSDealer.
The topic of conversation is long forgotten, but Walker’s reputation as an outstanding salesman remains intact, more than 40 years since the publication of the photo.
Walker enjoyed a long career at Lowe’s. He also was an active alumnus and fundraiser for Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., where the Walker College of Business is named in his honor. Walker died in 1984.
The Home Center Show eventually closed as consolidation of home centers depleted its core audience.
Friedman continues to contribute to HBSDealer on a daily basis from his office at the company headquarters in New York City.
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Throwback Thursday: Post mortem for a Panelrama
In the early 1970s, Ardmore, Pa.-based Panelrama Home Center was a rising player. At its peak, the company operated 35 units in 9 states. It was flush with $2 million from a public offering, and it was branching out beyond its focus on paneling for the home.
But in 1974, the company began its slide – partly as the result of the waning popularity of paneling, and partly because of marketing and operational missteps.
In an interview that appeared in the March 3, 1980 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, Panelrama founder Gary Erlbaum looked back at what went wrong.
Here are some of the company’s issues from the 1970s that might serve to inform expanding businesses to this day:
• Merchandise. “We were not able to take the success of our paneling business and transfer it onto other product lines,” Erlbaum said. The thought was, customers buying paneling would buy other home products. That worked for panel accessories, but not for unrelated home improvement products.
• Image. “We never changed our paneling image substantially,” he said. “We became so strongly identified with paneling that even our name, Panelrama, became a detriment.” He added: “We should have changed the name.”
• Competition. Channel Home Centers moved into the Philadelphia market about 1974, and that created “problems.” Additionally, the home center competition rapidly improved their paneling expertise.
• Store size. Erlbaum said if he had another run at home center retailing, he would do it with bigger stores. Panelrama’s averaged about 10,000 sq. ft. They needed to be at least 30,000 sq. ft. (Note: that was his feeling in 1980.)
• Expansion strategy. “We never became strong enough in one market. If I started over again, I would get as strong as possible in each geographic area within a city before going ahead in any other market.
The last Panelrama closed around 1980, but the company had a strong run, and overachieved by a long shot its founders’ expectations. “I did it just to see myself through law school,” Erlbaum said. “I never assumed it would grow into a big business.”
Do you remember Panelrama Home Center? Let us know here.
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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