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Industry Insights

Industry Insights: Forward Thinking With Chris Kempa

chris kempa
Chris Kempa CEO | True Value

How did business change for True Value in 2022 compared to 2021?
This year has been about maintaining and growing the pandemic-related boom the industry saw in 2021 and the sudden shift in consumer demand, specifically in the DIY and home repair space. Our market has continued to evolve and shift, and customers keep coming back to their local stores. We work in lock-step with our independent retailers, who know best how to manage their specific communities and customers, so we have dived deeper into understanding what their needs are and how we can best serve them.

What were some challenges in 2022 and how did True Value address them?
We are no stranger to the supply chain and economic factors that have dominated our industry. From fuel prices to material and labor shortages, we have had to remain nimble, and the True Value team (including our retailers) has done an exceptional job at rising to these challenges. We’ve done everything we can to absorb rising costs, while making significant investments in our operations to improve efficiencies. We’ve also strengthened key vendor relationships and overhauled our assortment strategy to better support those relationships.

What operational investments will you make in 2023 and how will they impact your customers?
In 2022, we refreshed a record number of new assortments compared to any pre-pandemic year, and in 2023, we will continue to prioritize the operational improvements that made that possible. From inventory investments to new tools for easy assortment implementation, we are helping our retailers future-proof their businesses and serve their communities.

How are you helping your customers address business transition and succession planning?
This is a priority for us in 2023 as we continuously work to better support our retailers. As the only distributor servicing independent retailers, we have made a conscious decision as a company not to own and operate retail stores or compete in any way with the stores we support. Our key focus is providing our customers with tools to help them with transitions, while not getting in the way of local store owners running their own businesses as independent entities.

What are your projections for 2023 for the industry and for your organization?
I fully expect to see occasional challenges with the supply chain, and we will continue to keep an eye on inflation. While we don’t have a crystal ball for these conditions, we have built an incredible team to weather the challenges of 2022 that will serve us well moving forward. From our sales team building deep relationships with local communities and store owners, to our merchandising and inventory teams staying on top of an unpredictable market, True Value is in a great spot to excel. Evolving our business and staying innovative is how we’ve stayed in business for 75 years, which is a major milestone we will celebrate in 2023. I’m optimistic about True Value’s future in 2023 and beyond.

To read our complete 2023 Market Measure, click here.

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