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Norbert Allen Newman

In Memoriam: Home Improvement Pioneer Bob Vereen

Home improvement industry pioneer and former Hardware Retailing editor Bob Vereen has died at age 96. He was born Sept. 8, 1924 in Stillwater, Minnesota. He spent his professional life covering the home improvement channel, visiting countless home improvement stores and sharing his findings through numerous articles and publications across the world.

Vereen joined the National Retail Hardware Association (now the North American Hardware and Paint Association) in 1963. During his career with the association, he served as an editor and publication manager. In 1983, he was promoted to associate publisher, and in 1984, he was named senior vice president and head of the Home Center Institute before retiring in 1987.

bob vereenWhile working for NHPA, Vereen was an innovator, constantly seeking ways to improve operations for the thousands of home improvement retailers serving customers across North America. Vereen was behind launching numerous industry programs and organizations which continue to this day.

In 2016, Vereen reflected on his career for an article in Hardware Retailing, saying the home improvement industry “became a vital part of my life and indeed, part of my family’s life.”

“Calling on retailers in nearly every state taught us that customer service is the most important element for success in hardware retailing. The products can be found, especially today, in many different kinds of stores (and certainly on the Internet), but none of the others can provide the knowledge, the personal service or the community involvement of a local hardware or home center retailer,” Vereen wrote in 2016.

“Bob was a fixture in this industry long before I joined NRHA, and it was always enlightening to learn about his different contributions to both our association and the industry as a whole,” says Dan Tratensek, NHPA chief operating officer. “If there was a long-standing program or group, it was likely Bob played some role in it at some point in time. It was also inspirational to see Bob, still as passionate as he was about covering the industry decades after he had officially retired. He will truly be missed, and he undoubtedly left an indelible mark on this industry.”

Retirement did not deter Vereen, who stayed active in the industry. He helped establish the Worldwide DIY Council to help U.S.-based manufacturers sell more products abroad.

Vereen was instrumental in creating the Bird-Dog Awards, which later became known as Retailers’ Choice Awards, which still continue to this day. He continued to write for international home improvement publications throughout his life, sharing insight, experience and wisdom with every article.

Vereen was a World War II veteran, serving as an Army sergeant in the signal corps. Vereen was preceded in death by his wife, Rose, who died in 2017. He is survived by three daughters: Stacy Griffin, Kim Cole and Robin Vereen; and grandchildren Casey and Carly Cole.

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