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True Value’s Jake Kalnitz Talks Acquisitions and Big Picture Goals

With True Value’s recent acquisition of Shur-Line and WordLock brands, Hardware Retailing spoke with True Value’s senior vice president of merchandising, inventory and pricing Jake Kalnitz to gain insight into how the acquisition fits into True Value’s overall product and merchandising strategy, and hear more about the plans for Fall Reunion.

Hardware Retailing (HR): How do these acquisitions fit into True Value’s product and merchandising strategy? Will this strategy be prevalent moving forward?

Jake Kalnitz (JK): We are laser-focused on finding ways to drive growth for our independent retailers. One truly unique differentiator of ours—especially when compared to others in the industry—is that we own and operate a manufacturing facility. The Shur-Line and Yenkin-Majestic’s consumer paint business acquisitions further distinguish that aspect of our business, led by John Vanderpool, divisional president at True Value Manufacturing, and his team.

Secondly, my merchandising team is focused on building the best assortments in the industry. Following the pandemic, we have a fantastic opportunity to take a step back and optimize assortments to make sure customer traffic stays consistent and new and old shoppers find the products they need to get the job done. WordLock is a unique product line that fits perfectly within our assortment and allows us to continue to provide differentiation for our retailers.

HR: This is True Value’s third acquisition in the last 12 months. How will this acquisition and prior acquisitions help retailers?

JK: A big benefit for retailers is these products will be more readily available and easier and quicker to get into stores. Our partners will continue to reap the benefits of True Value owning and managing its facility, and all of the acquisitions continue to build upon our product assortments.

HR: What are you most excited about as you look forward to the 2023 Fall Reunion?

JK: It’s our 75th anniversary! And this year is all about celebrating the strength of our independent hardware retailers. At Fall Reunion, we’re going to continue to build upon the significant assortment launches we’ve been bringing to the market over the past year and a half. We will be launching a refreshed farm and ranch program and will have completed refreshes for over 60% of our assortments.

We’ve seen tremendous retail results from our launches over the past year, and I think our retailers are going to be incredibly excited to see what we’re bringing to market this fall. Outside of the assortment launches, our endcap programs and other deals will be on full display for our retailers. And lastly, we continue to focus on helping our retailers address the challenges they’re facing. We spent a lot of time at Spring Reunion talking about the importance of our data-driven partnerships that allow us to build tools and support them in their markets. That theme will continue into the fall.

HR: Looking forward, what are some of the biggest opportunities and challenges for retailers? How is True Value planning to help retailers in those areas?

JK: If you can’t tell from the push and work we’ve done on assortments, we believe there’s a huge opportunity for our retailers to stand out in their market through product curation and refreshed visual merchandising.

When you think about the labor challenges our retail partners are facing, enhanced visual merchandising is essential to helping our end customers get the job done right and allows for more of our end users to be able to self-serve. The improved merchandising also helps new hires who may be lacking some knowledge or experience better serve customers, which are all key to building loyalty.

Retailers are responding in an incredible way, and our assortment sales have blown away all of our initial projections.

Other challenges—such as inventory and retail pricing post-inflation are key concerns for our retailers. We know these are challenges that are keeping our retailers up at night—and our partners should know these are the things the True Value merchandising team is hard at work with, building programs and tools to drive sales. I think a great example of this is our new approach to break packs, which will allow us to break packages for our retailers and ship them safely and damage-free. This will make a huge difference, and you’ll continue to see us working with our partners and analyzing our point of sale data to figure out what different tools and opportunities we have to manage challenges in retail.

About Carly Froderman

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