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Meet NRHA Chairman Adam Busscher

Located in the heart of Ontario’s idyllic Prince Edward County, Picton could very well be the small town that most people imagine when they reminisce about the “good old days.”

Beautiful views of Prince Edward Bay flank Picton’s vibrant main street. Small, locally owned shops and restaurants dot the length of Loyalist Parkway, and proprietors offer warm welcomes to both the longtime residents and far-flung travelers in town to enjoy the many natural treasures the county has to offer.

The congenial vibe of the people within Picton is palpable. Smiles and warm greetings seem to be the norm here, and the local residents and business owners appear genuinely concerned about the well being of visitors and the community.

It’s hard to imagine any other setting that would serve as a more ideal home to Adam Busscher, the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) current chairman of the board.

PEC Poster Boy

By all accounts, Busscher is the embodiment of the affable Canadian archetype. Friendly, supportive, quick with a joke and always wearing a smile, Busscher could be the chamber of commerce poster boy for the community he calls home and where he operates his business, Picton Home Hardware Building Centre.

Spend the day with Busscher, and he and his wife, Chrissy, will waste little time whisking you away on a tour of Prince Edward County’s landmark shops, wineries, historic sites and natural wonders.

Share a conversation with Busscher and it quickly becomes apparent how much this community, its businesses and its people mean to him.

“This community has been great to me and my family, and I feel a real sense of responsibility to ensure that I do whatever I can to make life as good as possible for the people who live here and work for our business,” Busscher says.

The affection Busscher has for Prince Edward County and its inhabitants appears to go both ways. Stop in at the local breakfast spot, and it’s hard to make your way to the table as diner after diner grabs Busscher to say hello. Stroll down Picton’s main street with the Busschers, and shouts and waves from passersby seem to occur every few steps. Walk into Picton Home Hardware Building Centre midweek and the store is generating the crowds most retailers typically only see on Saturdays.

There is a definite connection between the Busschers, the community and the success of their family business, where Adam and Chrissy’s two daughters Mira and Brooke have also become regular fixtures helping out around the store.

“Adam, Chrissy and their business are all such fixtures in their community, it is easy to see why they are successful,” says Bill Lee, NRHA president and CEO.

“They mean so much to Picton, and they are very passionate about helping the entire community be successful,” he says. “They share this same kind of passion when it comes to helping the community of independent retailers be successful.”

Hard Rock or Hardware

The business was first started by Busscher’s parents. Like most children of business owners, Busscher logged plenty of hours working at the store during his formative years. Also like many children of business owners, his path into the family business wasn’t a direct one.

In college, Busscher spent time working as a disc jockey for local parties and events and even studied to become a recording engineer. At the time, he figured he was more suited to a career with hard rock than hardware.

After graduating from college, however, Busscher returned to the family business in 1992, just as his father was beginning to think about transitioning out of the operation.

“With my parents’ help, I purchased the business from them in 1994,” Busscher recalls. “Chrissy began working with me in the business shortly after that, and my father stayed involved in the operation for a time just to make sure that I was comfortable running things.”

Fully immersed in running a small business, Busscher says he was thankful for his parents’ guidance during these years.

“When I first came back to the business, I thought it would be a breeze,” he says. “Running a hardware store, growing it and dealing with employees—I thought would be simple. I had looked at what my dad did and thought it would be a breeze. But now, looking back, it is not easy at all. It takes a dedicated team to grow and run that business. I learned that quickly.”

Over the next decade, Busscher and Chrissy relied on help from their team to keep the business moving in the right direction. They also looked for ways to grow the business. But, it didn’t take too long for Busscher to show just how comfortable he had become at the helm of the family operation.

In 2006, the Busschers decided to expand the business by opening a lumberyard in nearby Wellington. The store in Picton was primarily a typical hardware store with a small assortment of lumber and building materials, but the Wellington location was a pure lumberyard and would offer them the opportunity to broaden their customer base throughout the county to include more pro contractors and builders.

“That’s when my brother, Mark, came back into the business,” Busscher says. “He was working as an electrical engineer, but we recruited him to join the business and then he kind of got thrown into running the lumberyard. With him managing the new lumberyard, we were able to concentrate on growth plans for the hardware store.”

It was around this same time the industry began to take notice of what Busscher was doing in this small resort town. In 2007, Busscher’s accomplishments as a next-generation leader in the industry were recognized when he was honored as one of NRHA’s Young Retailers of the Year. Even with this award, however, Busscher’s success story was only beginning.

A New Era

After weighing their options and searching for just the right spot, in 2009, the Busschers opened a new, larger Picton Home

Hardware Building Centre location. The new store is located directly off Loyalist Parkway, just on the outskirts of Picton’s downtown area, and provided the business with more than enough room to offer all the products and services they couldn’t at the old store.

Easy to spot with its bright red and gold Home Hardware signage, the location is consistently abuzz with activity as everyone from moms to contractors head to the store for their home improvement needs.

Inside, the store is as immaculate as it is from the outside. Colorful displays highlight departmental offerings, and seasonal products are thoughtfully merchandised and arranged to present shoppers with inspiration and ideas. Outdoor furniture is decorated with place settings, grills are accessorized with barbecue tools and sauces and endcaps are clearly priced and neatly arranged. Everywhere you look could be a snapshot from a course in Retail Merchandising 101.

The store’s offering is a solid blend from all the core categories with meaningful selections in plumbing, electrical, tools and hardware as well as impressive offerings in outdoor living, housewares and more.

A complete kitchen and bath showroom augments the store’s selection and a commercial counter and entrance make it easy for the trades to get in, out and back to the job site.

Since opening the new location, Busscher says the community has responded well and business continues to increase year over year.

As is his personality, Busscher defers credit for much of the success to the hard work of his team and just plain luck.

“We have an unbelievable team who make this happen every day,” Busscher says. “But we’ve also been very fortunate in our decision-making process. We seem to make the big moves at the right times and in the right economic situations. Like we opened the new store when we were coming out of an economic recession, and we have grown. The lumberyard, we seemed to open it at the right time. How much did we manufacture of that success and how much was luck? I don’t know. Either way, I always felt that things would work out.”

While there may have been some luck involved in Picton Home Hardware Building Centre’s success, there is no doubt that hard
work and business savvy have played a role as well. And when it comes to hard work, Busscher is quick to point out that the entire team at Picton isn’t shy about putting in extra effort.

Busscher also understands that the ability to count on his team is a two-way street, which is why he goes above and beyond when it comes to taking care of employees.

“I really see it as my responsibility to make sure our employees are treated well,” he says. “That means paying them a wage that allows them to lead productive lives in this community and being flexible enough to make sure they can spend time with their families.”

A Broader View

While hard work, luck and community support have all come together to help Picton Home Hardware Building Centre reach a level of success, Busscher knows that finding the right formula for prosperity can be very different for other independent home improvement retailers.

His desire to help retailers from across the industry led him to take a more active role in NRHA. He first joined the NRHA board of directors in 2008 and has since matriculated through the executive positions to become chairman.

“As independent business operators, the way we can survive and thrive is by banding together and working together regardless of what flags we fly,” he says. “If I could tell retailers one thing about NRHA, it is to try to find more ways to be involved, look at what is available and try to use this wonderful resource we have available to us. Just the networking opportunities with other retailers have been such a critical part of our success, and there is so much more to take advantage of.”

In addition to his involvement in NRHA, Busscher is also heavily involved with his distributor, Home Hardware, as well as a host of civic organizations throughout Prince Edward County.

“If you feel it is important for something to be successful, anything to be successful, you have a duty to be involved,” Busscher says. “Whether it is your business, your community or the industry, if you are invested in its success, you can’t just sit on the sidelines.”

About Dan Tratensek

In his position as publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine, Dan has the opportunity to visit with independent retailers of all types and sizes and use these visits to shape the editorial direction of the magazine to meet the needs of the independent hardware retail market. Dan also oversees NRHA’s other publishing projects, which include a range of special interest publications, contract publishing titles, online content and more. Dan formerly worked as an editor and reporter for Hardware Retailing and has been involved in business journalism and news reporting for the past two decades

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