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Networking, Educational Sessions at NHS Provide Practical Takeaways

Day 2 of the National Hardware Show (NHS), taking place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, brought another full day of product discovery, educational sessions and networking. Kicking off the day was the NHS Executive Summit, featuring five high-impact sessions where attendees left with practical takeaways on consumer behavior, trends, supply chain and the state of the industry. 

In the session Adapting to Change in the Industry, Dan Tratensek, COO and publisher for the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA), moderated a panel with Jodi Karroum, director business development for Walmart Hardlines and Gina Schaefer, co-founder and former CEO of A Few Cool Hardware Stores. 

Some of the specific topics touched on during the panel session included attracting good employees by engaging in outside-the-box hiring and the importance of having a succession plan in place. 

“For us, diversity in hiring includes employing those with different genders, races and cultural backgrounds,” Karroum says. “But it is also about bringing on people with different career backgrounds and experiences and finding those people who are passionate about the industry.” 

Tratensek echoed those sentiments and says that intentionally seeking out different perspectives also strengthens the company overall and can be one antidote to hiring good employees. When it comes to succession planning, Tratensek says one of the biggest mistakes he sees is business owners putting off succession planning until it’s too late.

“For anyone who is a business owner, the minute you take on the mantle of running the business, you owe it to your employees to engage in succession planning,” Tratensek says. 

Other Executive Summit topics included The Consumer at Home: How Changing Consumer Preferences and Behaviors Impact Hardware Retailers and Manufacturers; Applying Consumer Trends to Merchandising and Planning Strategies; Remodeling Trends By the Numbers with Houzz; and How to Achieve Sustainability in the Hardware Industry. 

On the educational side, the Foundations of Merchandising Management Live! program, hosted by the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA), returned for a second year with sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. This program included expert-led course sessions, breakout workshop sessions, networking opportunities, hands-on learning on the NHS show floor and ROI-driven assignments to take back to attendees’ stores. 

Stacy Oliva, CEO of Nikiski Hardware in Nikiski, Alaska, was attending the Foundations of Merchandising Management Live! classes with fellow employees Amber Oliva-Douglas and Jakelynn Wheeler from Nikiski Hardware. 

“This is mine and Jakelynn’s first National Hardware Show, and it’s been great to see new ideas and new products,” Oliva-Douglas says. “The merchandising management class has been helpful to learn the why of merchandising and understand the strategies behind it.” 

Learn more about Day 1 of NHS here.

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.

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