Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: The Big Six

In March of 1996, a notable meeting of co-op leaders.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The year was 1996. And the nation’s co-ops were looking for efficiency. One idea: inter co-op cooperation.

Here’s how the March 18, 1996 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported on a meeting of six co-op leaders:

“The presidents of the nation’s six dealer-owned hardlines cooperatives expressed the need for more co-operation among themselves in taking costs out of the distribution pipeline during an historic panel discussion about the future of hardware retailing … “

Participating in the historic panel, held in Middleton, Wis., were Dan Cotter (Cotter & Co.); David Hodnik (Ace); Paul Pentz (ServiStar); Mike McClelland (HWI); Jim Weyrens (Our Own Hardware) and David Holder (United Hardware). The executives were assembled for the 100th anniversary meeting of the Midwest Hardware Association.

Cross-co-op cooperation in the form of deliveries and insurance were part of the discussion, according to the page one article.

Among the interesting comments:

  • “I believe in the next five years, there will be a consolidation in our industry,” said Pentz, in an accurate prediction. Cotter & Co. and ServiStar would soon form what is today True Value. And HWI would acquire Our Own Hardware, eventually forming Do it Best Corp.
  • “If the independent retailer can, in their heart, admit that the competition is not the other hardware store in town, then there will be room for taking costs out of the channel,” said Cotter, in a statement that many may disagree with.
  • Weyrens said one of the hardware dealers’ greatest challenges would be to break away from the sameness in store appearance and product offering.

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


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