For the past 145 years, the Weider’s name has been synonymous with top-tier customer service. In 1879, John A. Weider opened his horse and harness supply business to serve customers in Rochester, New York, adding hardware in the early 1900s. The legacy he started is still seen in the operation over a century later. Ned Green and his wife Lisa, current owners of Weider’s Paint & Hardware, along with their children Mitch and Mikayla, have taken up the banner for the Weider family name.
John’s same commitment to “give them what they want” can be seen across all three locations in Brighton, Honeoye Falls and Perinton, New York. Ned, newly elected board chairman for the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA), has been a part of Weider’s and the home improvement industry for over 40 years. He brings a wealth of experience in the independent channel and a commitment to serving customers to his role as board chair.
Joining the Family
The owners of Weider’s Paint & Hardware were family friends of the Greens, so Ned started his career at Weider’s in the early 1980s, spending time in the store as a teenager. He earned an official position in 1982 when Greg Lull, son of the owner and Ned’s future brother-in-law, left for college and left a position open.
“I was able to be a support for the company when Greg left for college, and I enjoyed it,” Ned says. “What caught me and kept me there was the combination of helping people solve problems and selling hardware products. I really enjoyed connecting with people.”
Several years after starting at Weider’s, Ned also went away to college and after graduation, he worked for two years for another local hardware operation. Through that time, he still had a role at Weider’s in some capacity.
“It became very clear early on there were some challenges in the industry. The reality is we need people to step up, take responsibility and do the hard work to make the changes to keep these businesses continuing into the future,” Ned says. “Early on, I thought making these changes in the industry was something I could do and would enjoy.”
In 1991, Ned and Greg purchased the business from Greg’s parents, Robert and Joanne Lull, and they ran Weider’s Paint & Hardware together until 2004 when Ned became sole owner. Over the next 15 years, the original location closed, several new locations opened and the company transitioned to Ace Hardware and Emery Jensen as its wholesalers with Ned at the helm.
“The business has been an evolution; there have been a bunch of smaller stepping stones to get us where we are now,” Ned says. “There is a lot of history here, and it’s an honor for me to be a part of that legacy. I love it when customers bring in newspaper articles or memorabilia from the last 140-some years, and we even have a couple of employees who are distant relatives of the previous owners.”
The operation’s evolution hasn’t been easy. When Ned took over, the business was facing some challenges, which Ned says he overcame by maintaining relationships, keeping employees happy and selling the products and services customers needed and wanted. He purchased the business on a handshake and after taking over, adopted a slower timeline to revitalize and rebuild the company in a way that respected all the parties involved.
“I’m proud of the fact we were able to transition the company into something that can still exist in this day and age. It’s on track to be left in a much better position than when I got here,” Ned says. “Righting the ship while still placing a focus on maintaining relationships was key to getting us where we are now.”
Building on Success
During his time leading Weider’s, Ned says he has placed a heavy focus on the services the operation offers and pushed the boundaries of service offerings. These services include automotive chip keys, B2B sales, rentals, handyman services, repairs, sharpening, paint matching, window and screen repair, lamp repair and more.
“I believe service work carries our industry over the ups and downs of the merchandise and keeps us from being vending machines,” Ned says. “Services give us a unique position in our communities. It’s hard to put in service work—in fact it is the hardest thing we do—but it’s the area we can incorporate into our businesses that makes a huge difference.”
B2B sales is one area of services that has had a major influence on the products the stores carry, Ned says. B2B sales have made up between 20% and 30% of sales over the last 10 years.
“The B2B department has drawn our main store into having deeper categories and having deeper categories has fueled our B2B business,” Ned says. “No matter what services you offer, it’s about pushing the boundaries for that service and offering customers something extra.”
Along with helpful services and depth of product selection, dedicated team members have contributed to the success of Weider’s. Each of the 75 employees at Weider’s share Ned’s enthusiasm for problem-solving,
walking customers through projects and providing a high level of customer service. Ned says he also has numerous employees who champion specific departments and take ownership of those areas of the stores.
“It’s not the actions of one person on any given day, but it’s the strength of the entire team that makes everything come together,” Ned says.
Ned and Lisa have made a concerted effort to provide quality training to employees and have been focused on implementing policies and processes that systemize standard operating procedures, allowing each employee the time and space to better serve customers.
Recently, the Greens promoted Athan Marzen to operations manager. Athan works closely with Ned and his family to help oversee a consistent level of training and service across all three locations. Ned says he is also aware of the reality of the current job market, including high turnover and a shortage of invested employees.
“I heard an analogy that the labor market is like a city bus where the riders are only on the bus for a period of time,” Ned says. “We have been asking ourselves what we are doing to accommodate a dynamic, changing workforce and be more successful despite the challenges in the labor market. We’ve been coming up with ways to meet employees where they are, no matter how long they are with us.”
A Love for the Community
When looking at the reasons why Weider’s Paint & Hardware has been so successful for over a century, you’d be remiss to leave out the company’s commitment to its community and industry partnerships. Personally, Ned stays involved with the community as a trustee of his church, volunteer with the Greater Rochester Soap Box Derby Club and member of the Brighton Rotary Club, where he has served as president, treasurer and district finance committee member.
As a local business, Weider’s Paint & Hardware gives generously to local organizations through donations. Community connections have also been built thanks to the operation’s B2B relationships with fellow local business owners.
“So many different partnerships have been created in the industry and outside it to support our business,” Ned says. “From our suppliers and vendors to our customers and investors to industry partners like NHPA, we couldn’t be successful without the support of our community.”
Those relationships have become one of the best parts of the job, Ned says. He also enjoys being a resource for the communities the operation serves, seeing his associates find enjoyment in their different in-store departments and getting to spend time on the salesfloor himself.
“My kids always joke that if they can’t find me, I’m probably in the fastener aisle, which is one of my favorite parts of the store,” Ned says. “If I were at the desk all day long, that wouldn’t be satisfying. Being out in the aisle every day and being able to wait on a customer and build those relationships is the best part of my job.”
From his vantage point as a business owner and board chair, Ned sees several opportunities the independent channel can take advantage of in the future. One of those opportunities is the use of technology to help retailers become more profitable and efficient.
In an effort to streamline processes and improve the human resource experience for both employer and employee, Ned and Lisa phased out some of the programs they were using for employee management and switched to Paycor for payroll, scheduling and employee timekeeping.
“We realized we had so many pieces—from logins to apps—to onboard a new employee,” Ned says. “The HR platform we switched to simplifies the process, so we’re not overwhelming ourselves on the administrative side, especially with the turnover we’re seeing. It’s removed a couple of steps for every person and saved us so much time and energy.”
Other opportunities Ned sees for the channel include focusing on employee engagement and taking an omnichannel approach to serving customers.
During his tenure as board chairman, Ned says he is looking forward to helping the industry come together for education, training and networking through all the programs NHPA offers. He wants to continue fostering a welcoming environment for independent retailers and see the organization’s vision come together to unite the industry.
“NHPA is the organization at the center of the industry that brings the distributors and manufacturers together with the retailers all with the mission to make independent retailers more profitable,” Ned says. “From the education programs to the communication pieces the association puts out, NHPA is really an asset for the industry. I want to continue to help raise awareness and build those relationships among retailers.”