Home » Association » 12 Key Takeaways from the 2022 NHPA All-Industry Conference
conference takeaways

12 Key Takeaways from the 2022 NHPA All-Industry Conference

The 2022 NHPA All-Industry Conference, co-located at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, wrapped up last week, offering three days of speakers and panels from industry experts and top-performing retailers. Attendees came away with numerous insights and best practices they can implement in their own businesses, and here, we share our top 12 takeaways from the conference in case you missed it. 

Uncertainty still dominates our economy. According to Connor Lokar, ITR Economics, senior forecaster for ITR Economics, the economy is as uncertain as it’s ever been. He cited global events such as the crisis in Ukraine, but he did say supply chain and inflation will get better later in 2022.

“We’re playing catchup. It’s the year of normalization,” he says. “This is when the channels clear—where what we thought about pre-COVID normal creeps into the conversation as this year goes on. This is a global deceleration.”

Use current shopping trends to your advantage. Mark Herbek, founding partner and executive director of home improvement for Cleveland Research, touched on the revival of the American dream and homeownership among Generation Z as a result of the pandemic. He also said brands have never been more important, and he expects to see more direct-to-consumer sales.

As a leader, tell your story. NHPA’s director of organizational development and consulting Kim Peffley shared how to create innovative problem-solvers in your company by leading by example and being transparent as a leader. 

“Admit when you make mistakes and encourage others to be open to making mistakes too because mistakes are opportunities to learn,” she says. “And always be learning yourself.” 

Invest in your people. Elliot Greenberg, president and CEO of JC Licht, which now has 50 stores in the Midwest and is still growing, shared his strategy for growth.

“We have a big growth strategy, and people ask why we want to grow so quickly and so big,” Greenberg says. “The only way we can get outstanding people is to promise them advancement and growth and a better life.” 

Make your employees’ experience a priority. Keynote speaker Kevin Hancock, chairman and CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, shared how to put employees first for more loyal customers and stronger sales and discussed the social and economic benefits of creating an employee-centric company.

“Across time, ‘leaders’ have done more to restrict, direct and control the voices of others than to liberate them,” Hancock says. “The partial loss of my own voice was an invitation to lead differently in a manner that strengthened the voices of others and create an employee-centric company where our employees’ experience at work is our top priority.” 

Choose a professional loyalty program that makes sense for your customers. Dave Hoglund, vice president of purchasing for Builders was part of a panel on professional customer loyalty programs and provided insights and best practices for creating and managing a loyalty program for professional customers. He suggests giving your customers what they want because they are more likely to participate if you give them rewards that are meaningful to them and be willing to evolve and change your program to best suit your customers.

Tailor hiring to your company’s core values. NHPA managing editor Melanie Moul discussed hiring strategies that retailers are using and finding success.

“The top-performing retailers in the industry run their businesses by specific core values that are part of every decision in the organization. From how to solve a customers’ plumbing problem to who to hire, core values offer critical guidance,” Moul says. “You need to ask yourself, ‘Who do we want working in our business?’ People who understand the mission of the business and can show the core values in everything they do.”

E-commerce and commerce should be viewed together. The Farnsworth Group president Grant Farnsworth noted that the separation between e-commerce and commerce no longer exists—nearly every customer, whether they’re a pro or a DIYer, is using online platforms for research prior to buying. “It’s more critical than ever that there is a consistency between digital and in-person worlds,” he says. “Contractors are using more than three sources on average, going between manufacturing and supplier sites before buying.” 

Implement technologies that help you connect with customers. Eric Hassett, owner of Hassett Ace Hardware talked about the technology initiatives he has been implementing and how each one focuses on allowing customers to provide even better customer service.

“My philosophy is that I am trying to find technologies that will help the employees work with the customers,” Hassett says. “Our brand is all about service.”

Good customer service starts with good employee training. Rodney Bullion, director of learning and development at TAL Holdings, says customer service starts with thorough employee training.

“The more we grew, the more we knew that we had to engage our people and grow our people quickly to be as effective as possible because our employees are our key asset to offering a great customer experience,” says Bullion. 

Pay attention to overages. Jim Close, managing partner at Risk Management Services Loss Prevention, discussed the types of technologies loss prevention professionals rely on to combat shrink and strategies retailers can use in their own operations. He says it’s crucial to pay attention to overages, as shortages are a big deal.

“We tend to look for things that are missing. But if you’re starting to see a pattern of overages, that’s a red flag,” he says. 

Take pride in your work. On the Young Retailer of the Year panel, Cory Rhynehart, minority owner of Milton Hardware & Building Supply, says he enjoyed working in construction but appreciates how many more people he can help as a retailer.

“When I was in construction, I had one task: I could build this one deck or this one house. But now, over the course of a week, I can help 15 people build their decks and two people build a house. I take personal pride and ownership in all of these projects.”

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

Check Also

Ace Hardware Home Services

Ace Hardware Reaches Milestone in Home Services Coverage

Ace Hardware announced today that its home services offerings are now provided in over 5,000 …