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All-Industry Conference

People, Products and Technology Take the Stage at the NHPA All-Industry Conference

With a focus on investing in people, products and technology, the 2022 NHPA All-Industry Conference kicked off with a series of educational speakers and informational panels. 

The morning started with the VIP Speaker Series, made possible by the National Hardware Show. The event featured presentations from Connor Lokar from ITR Economics and Mark Herbek from Cleveland Research.

Accurately Prepare for Tomorrow
Connor Lokar, ITR Economics, Senior Forecaster

Lokar presented on current and future trends for the U.S. and global economy and discussed what decision-makers must consider in the face of these crucial factors. He looked at what key segments are experiencing and the opportunities and risks for the remainder of 2022 and for 2023, including labor, supply chain and prices.

In addition to presenting on economic trends, Lokar serves as an adviser for management teams of all sizes. He specializes in construction and industrial markets but consults and presents to businesses across all industries.

According to Lokar, 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.”

Scott Jerousek, NHPA board member and owner of Farm and Home Hardware in Wellington, Ohio, says he follows economists and Lokar’s presentation was helpful for his strategic vision. 

“I’ve got other economists I follow. This was more positive on the inventory fulfillment side than I expected,” he says. “Anyone who is in this industry should follow multiple economists to see what is happening six months to two to three years down the road for strategic planning.”

What Now? How to Use Changing Shopper Habits and Industry Trends to Your Advantage
Mark Herbek, Cleveland Research, Founding Partner and Executive Director of Home Improvement

Herbek presented on how to use changing shopper habits and industry trends to your advantage. He summarized the key shopper changes within the industry over the last two years along with insights to help attendees keep pace with best-in-class retailers.

Herbek specializes in identifying inflections to help vendors and retailers grow more profitably while more quickly navigating the constantly evolving customer path to purchase.

“COVID-19 is going to be the most disruptive event of our lifetime,” Herbek says. “We’ve got inflation across the board at levels we’ve never seen historically.”

Herbek touched on a 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. 

Lisa Anderson, general manager of Handy Ace Hardware in Tucker, Georgia, says Herbek’s presentation offered her insights she hadn’t heard before, but it confirmed her strategies are heading in the right direction.

“I have a lot of data today that backs up what we’re already doing. I’m going to go back and clean my inventory. We’re on the right path,” she says.

This event was sponsored by the National Hardware Show, and future similar events are a priority to host at the show. 

“The National Hardware Show is excited to sponsor events like these that highlight and support the independent retailer,” says Beth Casson, event vice president of the National Hardware Show. “We’re committed to creating a more comprehensive experience at NHS for the independent channel, and we appreciate our partnership with NHPA to make it happen.”

How Can You Attend VIP Events?

This exclusive event was available to independent home improvement retailers who have participated in an NHPA Roundtable, Young Retailer of the Year program, Retail Management Certification Program or the Foundations of Leadership Program. Click here to learn how to get involved or call NHPA Member Services at 800-772-4424. 

Creating Innovative Problem-Solvers in Your Business
Kim Peffley, NHPA, Director of Organizational Development and Consulting

In the first presentation of the NHPA All-Industry Conference, NHPA’s Kim Peffley took the stage to introduce strategies retailers can use to encourage their teams to develop their problem-solving skills. Kim has 25 years of experience as an independent retailer, working in her family’s True Value store in Indiana, and continuing with the business when it was bought by a multi-store Ace operation. She eventually became general manager, helping to establish development and mentoring programs for both the frontline and management teams and creating merchandising standards and procedures to assist in store modernization, new store projects and ongoing store improvement. She joined NHPA in 2019 and was recently appointed to her current role.

Here are key takeaways from Kim’s presentation. 

  • As a leader, tell your story 
  • Lean into your team, teach them and learn from them
  • Remember: We are just humans helping humans 
  • Admit when you make mistakes and encourage others to be open to making mistakes 
  • Mistakes are opportunities to learn
  • Always be learning

To learn more about the programs and services Kim manages for NHPA that are focused on helping retailers develop their cultures and grow strong teams, click here.

Top Guns Awards

For more than 15 years, the North American Hardware and Paint Association has recognized innovative, passionate retailers who are leading their operations and the independent home improvement industry at large with strategic investments focused on preserving independence and growing the channel. These retailers are recipients of the NHPA Top Guns Award.

This year’s Top Guns Award recipients are:

  • Stacy Bivona, vice president of Nebraska operations and marketing, Builders, Nebraska and Colorado
  • Elliot Greenberg, president and CEO, JC Licht, Illinois and Wisconsin
  • Pat Sullivan, president, Sullivan Hardware & Garden, Indiana

Following the award presentations, the group took the stage for a panel discussion. The NHPA All-Industry Conference theme is “Investing in People, Products & Technology.” The panel touched on these three themes with each Top Gun. Read insights here from the discussion, and click here to be the first to receive the May issue of Hardware Retailing to learn more about these innovative retailers.

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


Stacy on Products
“Our paint department is a starting point for a good percentage of our sales because it gives us the opportunity to follow leads. Really any project someone is going to be doing on their home, paint is going to be involved. We like that to be the department where we can find out about the scope of their project and capture everything they need.” 

Pat on Technology

“E-commerce is really crowded. If I’m going to put up a grill for sale, a lot of people do that. But over on the social media side, which is the “feel-good” side, we can show off our festival for coleslaw, which no one else is doing. It’s a lot easier for us to market our entertainment side on social media than it is to sell a grill.” 

All-Industry ConferenceEmployees First: Disrupting Assumptions for More Loyal Customers and Stronger Sales
Kevin Hancock, Hancock Lumber, President and CEO

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.” 

Kevin presented this presentation at the 2020 Disruption Series Virtual Event. Click here to watch it.

Retailer Panel: Keeping Your Pro Promises
Brandon Donahue, Westerly Paints, Owner
Dave Hoglund, Builders, Vice President of Purchasing
Brian Johnson, Sunpro, General Manager

Brian Johnson from Sunpro, Dave Hoglund from Builders and Brandon Donahue from Westerly Paints and Mystic Paints closed out the day on the NHPA Village Stage with a panel discussion on how to create and manage a successful loyalty program for professional and contractor customers. Each of these retailers has implemented comprehensive professional loyalty programs that reward customers for using their operations to purchase products and services. 

Sunpro works with many high-volume professional customers and its loyalty program matches with elaborate trips and other high-end perks. At Builders, Hoglund says the company has more than one program, because they take a personalized approach and create customized programs for each customer. Donahue currently partners with Benjamin Moore to offer the loyalty program at Westerly Paints and hopes to eventually launch their own loyalty program, using the parts of the current program that customers prefer the most. 

Here are key takeaways from the panel:

  • Give your customers what they want; they are more likely to participate if you give them rewards that are meaningful to them. 
  • Keep your loyalty program front of mind with in-store signage, email marketing and other communication methods.
  • Be willing to evolve and change your program to best suit your customers.
  • Partner with vendors to offer rewards.
  • Choose a rewards program that makes financial sense for your operation. 

To learn more about creating and managing loyalty programs for both retail and professional customers, including four must-have tenets of any loyalty program, click 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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