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Retailers Find Focus at True Value Fall Reunion

Retailers recently gathered to find new products, gain business inspiration and network with their peers at the True Value Fall Reunion.

The buying show, which the co-op hosted in Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, ran Sept. 15-18. The event featured speakers, new retail ideas and special pricing on products.

Leadership Lessons From a Legend

Before the floor opened and the buying market started, retailers attended the Retail Best Practices Conference on Thursday, which featured Peyton Manning, recently retired NFL quarterback, as the keynote speaker.

Manning spoke to a packed audience about how to be a successful leader, both on and off the football field.

Manning retired this year as one of the most influential quarterbacks in the NFL, and he talked about career highs, such as winning the Super Bowl, and lows, such as suffering a major neck injury.

While speaking to the crowd, Manning used his experiences in the NFL and now his experience as an owner of several Papa John’s Pizza locations to offer retailers advice on how they also can achieve success and navigate the challenges that come during the lifetime of any business.

“In this ever changing and turbulent business environment that we’re in, we need to constantly unearth and experiment with new ways to compete and ultimately to win,” Manning says. “To accomplish your goals, you need your own game plan to follow. When teams work in unison towards a common goal, when each masters his or her specific role at the highest level possible, the results can often defy the odds.”

Following his talk on leadership, Manning took questions from True Value president and CEO John Hartmann. Among other questions, Hartmann asked Manning who is favorite coaches were who contributed to his life and career.

“I think you always need to be coached,” Manning says. “When you think you got this whole business figured out, you’re wrong. Always have a mentor. Always have a checklist to be sure you’re doing the basic, core fundamentals the best.”

General Session Takes Focus to the Next Level

At the end of the market’s first day, attendees flocked to a general session to learn about the latest news from True Value.

Attendees found 3-D glasses on their seat armrests and were asked to close their eyes and listen to the noise of everyday life played over loud speakers. They heard the sounds of traffic, beeping smartphones, blaring televisions and loud conversations. Then, they were instructed to open their eyes, put on their glasses and focus on all the ways they could find success with their operations.

The theme of the True Value Fall Reunion was focus and the ways the co-op has been and will continue to focus on growing solid business operations.

“Focus 2016 is about True Value honing in on everything we’ve learned together and focusing on those areas that you let us know need attention,” Hartmann says. “It’s about giving you every advantage by focusing on delivering best-in-class merchandising, marketing, promotions, training and operational support. We’re in the second year of the execution of our long-term plan and a significant reinvestment in this company. Already you can feel the momentum and you can see the results take shape.”

Members of the True Value executive team shared program updates and showed videos highlighting retailers who have found focus in their businesses.

Highlights from the general session included a new mobile app that will be piloted in the Chicago distribution center and eventually be rolled out at all the distribution centers. With this app, retailers will be able to track their orders and see where their shipment is, according to Abhinav Shukla, senior vice president and chief operating officer for True Value.

“This is a great example of our partnership with Ryder,” Shukla says. “We knew the technology to track shipments existed, and we wanted to try it out and use it in our own application. It’s going to be piloted this month in Harvard, our distribution center out of Chicago, but we will roll the app out to all retailers by the end of the year.”

In addition to tracking freight, retailers learned how the co-op’s focus on optimization was helping put money back in their pockets. According to Shukla, the co-op was able to reduce freight rates an average of 25 basis points, which will lead to an overall reduction for retailers 2017 rate costs of more than $3 million.

The general session also highlighted the paint category and a new alliance with Benjamin Moore to offer Coronado paint. This alliance includes an exclusive warehouse program that is open to all True Value retailers. Plus, the line can complement the True Value EasyCare paint line.

“The world of business is changing at an incredible pace,” Hartmann says. “Customers’ expectations for project help and service, even the ways they shop and connect with you in the store, aren’t what they were even 10 years ago or even last year. That’s why we’re so focused, because the alternative to growth is not attractive. Our focus is on you, our internal customer, so that you, in turn, can support your customers better than the competition.”

Standouts From the Show Floor

Retailers at the event had many opportunities to find unique products, grab great deals and mingle with industry peers.

While walking the show floor, retailers could browse vendor booths for new product ideas. However, there were many opportunities away from the booth’s for retailers to explore and find everything they might want to add to their inventory.

Newly introduced at the reunion this year was Assortment City, a 35,000 square foot area dedicated to making it easier for retailers to shop customized assortments. There were also live product demonstrations in this area, and was easy to navigate and find information on all the merchandise they came across.

For Brandon Rosene of Rozman True Value in Muskego, Wisconsin, the show was a great time for him to check out products, attend educational sessions and explore Denver.

“The reunion has been great so far,” Rosene says. “I’ve been most impressed with the variety of classes available and I have attended a few. Plus, I got to take a tour of Mile High Stadium with the young retailer group, which was really cool.”

Another retailer who made the most of her time at the reunion was Leigh Ann Akard, co-owner and manager of Akard True Value.

“It’s always fun,” Akard says. “Years ago, we’d come to market, walk the floor and that was it. Now we sit in roundtable meetings and we’ve gotten to know many more people, which is great.”

Paul Dye from Brimfield Hardware in Brimfield, Illinois, also attended the market. While on the show floor, Dye says his wife helps provide him with a consumer and female perspective.

“I always want my wife to walk around and look for new items,” Dye says. “She’s a nurse and isn’t involved in the business decisions so that works out real nice. I’ve been doing it for so long, she sees things I might not have noticed.”

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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