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Home Depot CFO Chats Millennials, Pro Services

Appearing on CNBC’s “Mad Money,” Home Depot executive vice president and CFO Carol Tomé gave insight into the company’s interest in millennial homeowners, how it’s using technology to personalize retail experiences for pro customers and how home improvement leadership has changed over the years.

Millennials view their homes as an investment.

Tomé says home equity values have more than doubled since 2011, and research indicates homeowners undertake more home improvement projects when they view their home as an investment, not just an expense. Millennials in particular have adopted this mindset, she says.

“When we talk to millennials, we were nervous about whether or not they wanted to own a home. We saw the largest cohort of first-time homebuyers last year was 33 years old, so as they’re starting to form their family unit, they’re buying a home,” she says. “Here’s the cool thing: Through our research, they’ve told us they want to work on their homes because they think it’s a good investment. That’s music to our ears.”

New technology will allow retailers to personalize service for pro customers.

Tomé explains one of Home Depot’s core values is entrepreneurial spirit, which motivates it to find new ways to attract sales from pro customers.

“What we’re seeing is that our professional contractors are finding their mobile devices to be very helpful to them. They can source inventory by store, they can order and have that order sent to their job site,” she says.

In the future, Tomé says the Home Depot app will personalize itself to pro customers by specific trade, highlighting electrical products for electricians, plumbing products for plumbers and so on. The app will also eventually provide “personalized pricing” for pros.

Women have become more prominent in home improvement leadership.

Recently, Tomé announced plans to retire from Home Depot in August after 24 years with the company, including 18 as its CFO. She says in her tenure, she’s observed women taking greater leadership roles in home improvement.

“When I started 24 years ago I was all by myself. But if you look at our leadership team now you see women in power. We have three executive vice presidents who are women today, and it’s throughout the entire company,” she says. “I am so incredibly proud of them, and I hope they’re proud of me.”

Learn more about Home Depot’s history and achievements.

Home Depot is the world’s most profitable big-box home improvement retailer. It operates more than 2,200 locations in North America. For more information on the company’s origins and financial profile, read Hardware Retailing’s 360-Degree View of Home Depot from the May issue.

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