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Industry Insights: Hardlines Distribution Alliance

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Shari Kalbach, President, HDA

In the 2024 Market Measure Report, published by the North American Hardware and Paint Association, industry partners offered insights into 2023 operations and their goals for 2024.

Read the insights from Shari Kalbach and Steve Synnott from Hardlines Distribution Alliance (HDA) below and download the complete report from NHPA here.


 

How did business change for Hardlines Distribution Alliance in 2023 compared to 2022?
In 2023, at Hardlines Distribution Alliance (HDA), we worked to streamline our marketing, merchandising and accounting processes and forged strong partnerships as a single organization since HDA began in April 2022. In addition, we continued to adapt to the post-pandemic home improvement marketplace. Disruptions in the supply chain, including pockets of scarcity and oversupply, presented challenges to purchasing and sales teams throughout our network. Overall, our distributor members have returned to pre-pandemic fill rates in the mid to high 90% range, which is a great improvement from 2022.

What were some challenges in 2023 and how did HDA address them?
One of HDA’s primary objectives is to share ideas, innovations and best practices with our diverse and robust network. The pandemic had a detrimental effect on our ability to host in-person events and network during an unprecedented economic period that deeply impacted the market and consumer spending habits. These economic shifts, including difficulties finding and retaining employees and thegrowing cost of operations due to inflation, have persisted in 2022 and 2023. We were forced to conduct virtual events and meetings and had to delay plans to bring distribution center operations personnel together. To combat this, we made exciting strides in 2023 to learn and collaborate by conducting and attending in-person shows and a Distribution Center Workshop, hosted by Blish-Mize in Atchison, Kansas. The Distribution Center Workshop allowed operations managers to discuss common challenges and the best practices to combat them to make material handling and operations more efficient as a whole.

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Steve Synnott, CEO, HDA

What are some critical areas of focus for HDA going into 2024? What is the anticipated impact or benefit for your members?
At HDA, we focused on executing several new data integration systems in 2023 in the final phases of aligning former Distribution America and PRO Group operations. As we welcome 2024, distributor members and vendor partners will benefit from these improved systems that more efficiently execute accounting processes and support the group’s buying power. In addition, streamlined promotional systems will highlight the value available to all members and partners within the HDA network.

What are your projections for 2024 for the home improvement industry at large and the independent channel specifically?
While certain segments of the market are forecast to grow in 2024, our overall prediction is for flat sales performance compared to 2023. Growth of less than 1% magnifies the need to operate efficiently, streamline product and promotional delivery and trim costs without compromising value delivered to customers. We believe the ongoing effects of inflation and rising mortgage rates will dampen new construction and remodeling projects while repair and maintenance segments will attain modest growth. HDA’s network concentrates more heavily on repair and maintenance, which are the segments we hope will see modest growth in 2024.

“One of HDA’s primary objectives is to share ideas, innovations and best practices with our diverse and robust network.”

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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