Thousands of retailers gathered in Denver for the True Value 2018 Fall Reunion, which was held Sept. 28-30 at the Colorado Convention Center.
The atmosphere across the show floor was positive, as attendees found new products, networked with other retailers and visited True Value University to learn more about training opportunities and to take advantage of educational seminars.
For the first time in the company’s history, the show was open to all independent home improvement retailers across the industry, regardless of which wholesaler group served as their supplier. The change came after private investment firm ACON Investments made a strategic investment in True Value in March.
At the General Session on Friday afternoon, president and CEO John Hartmann and other senior-level executives addressed the retailers who had gathered to talk more about True Value’s recent developments, and where the company was headed in the future.
“If you’re not looking forward, you’re already behind,” Hartmann says. “For years now, we’ve been looking forward, and today, we’re future-ready.”
The company looks to continue growing; Tim Mills, the company’s senior vice president of growth, says it’s on track to sign 140 new stores this year.
“One of the top reasons our retailers stay with True Value is that no one respects your independence like True Values does,” Mills says. “That’s something we’ve always offered, and our retailers have more control now than they did previously. You’re in control of your own destiny.”
Hartmann highlighted some news for the company, including a plan to strengthen its supply chain with a $100 million investment in new distribution capacities.
“This will alleviate congestion in our buildings as well as ensure that we continue to have the highest fill rates,” he says.
The company has also adopted a new hub-and-spoke model. “This is a perfect example of how we are ensuring we’re future-ready,” says Abhinav Shukla, the company’s senior vice president and COO. “Not only will this help offset rising supply chain costs, it will improve in-stock rates and service levels by allowing our customers access to a greater group of inventory It also offers a long-requested efficiency for our retailers.”
In the spring, True Value rolled out its new marketing program, which included an increasing shift to a digital marketing strategy. At this Reunion, David Elliott, True Value’s senior vice president of marketing, talked about some updates to the marketing plan, such as the ability to further customize digital brochures, as well as changes to national television advertising.
The company will now be offering 30-second commercials that can be show on streaming television services.
“We all know national television advertising has become more expensive and less effective,” Elliott says. “The way people watch TV has changed, which is why we’ve changed our approach.”
General Session attendees also saw a video from Aron Schwartz, managing partner of ACON Investments. He spoke about the reasons the investment firm was interested in True Value, highlighting the brand, the company’s strong strategic plan and True Value’s existing members.
“Rest assured management is working hard to grow the value of your remaining equity in the business,” Schwartz says. “We genuinely believe True Value is well-placed to support growth and profitability for generations to come.”
“True Value is now better positioned to support you and serve your needs, supporting your growth, supporting your profitability, and of course supporting your independence,” Hartmann says.
On the Show Floor
There was an upbeat atmosphere among retailers and vendors at the show.
“I’m happy to see all the people here,” says Chad Koep of Fairmont True Value in Fairmont, Minnesota. “There’s a good turnout. I’ve talked to some people who are here just to see what True Value is all about. They said they’ve been very pleased with what they’ve seen so far.”
Koep says he does “a little of everything” at the Reunions. “I feel like attending the Reunions is an important part of my business. I get to take advantage of educational opportunities and network with my peers.”
Like Koep, Michelle Meny of Meny’s True Value in Jasper, Indiana, was taking some time at the show to see everything True Value had to offer, as well as make as few specific purchases.
“We spend some time at True Value University to learn more about training opportunities,” she says. “We were looking for a new color-matching system, and we found what we needed.
“We have two locations, and we’re in the process of remodeling both,” she says. “The Reunion is a good time to see all True Value has to offer us.”
Sam Stoll of Stoll Bros. True Value Lumber in Odon, Indiana, says he goes to all the True Values Reunions and enjoys seeing the products up close.
“It’s good to have an opportunity to see and touch and feel the different items,” he says. “At this Reunion, we are especially interested in the outdoor living area. We want to expand our grill selection.”
True Value’s 2019 Spring Reunion will be held Feb. 22-24 in Dallas.