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Ace Hardware Presents New Initiatives at Fall Convention

Ace Hardware Corp. presented a new growth plan and promoted some new initiatives at its fall buying show in Atlanta.

The co-op announced Higher Ground, its new strategic plan, at the Ace Hardware Fall 2019 Convention & Exhibits, which was Sept. 6-8.

The plan includes goals for increasing customer satisfaction and growing sales.

The prior strategic plan had a sales growth goal of of 3.7 percent, but 5.5 percent will be the goal for Higher Ground, according to Andy Enright, vice president of retail development.

Ace Hardware
At the convention, Ace Hardware Corp. promoted its new partnership with Benjamin Moore. Ace is the only home improvement company to carry Benjamin Moore paints in its warehouses.

“Where the rubber meets the road is on your store-specific plan,” CEO and president John Venhuizen told a crowd of retailers at the convention’s general session, which opened the show.

He and his team compared growth to scaling mountains, and said no mountain is a final destination but is part of a longer growth journey. The new strategic plan is a new mountain with new goals, Venhuizen says.

“Every Ace retailer’s ascent up that mountain is unique,” he says.

At the show, the co-op also announced its acquisition of Handyman Matters, a Denver franchise that offers home repair services in 23 states. Retailers will not be expected to be franchisees, but they will benefit from the acquisition because local franchisees will be required to purchase their materials at Ace stores, Venhuizen says.

On the Show Floor

Retailers at the convention took inspiration from the general session, networked with peers in the industry, hunted for new items to sell and and took advantage of special market prices on products.

The general session affects in-store operations at Kabat’s Ace Hardware Stores Inc. in Arizona because the company’s team thinks through future initiatives based on Ace corporate’s goals, general manager Matt Boswell says.

“The general session is a roadmap to what Ace is planning to do in the future,” he says.

Boswell spent much of the show talking with other retailers about what’s going well with their businesses and hunting for new products.

Ace Hardware
Retailers flock to the busy show floor at the Ace Hardware Fall 2019 Convention & Exhibits.

John Prewitt, who owns Bluegrass Ace Hardware in Richmond, Kentucky, was looking for merchandising ideas and opportunities to expand his plumbing and lawn and garden product offerings.

“I want to see the new items and get new ideas for the store,” Prewitt says.

Clark Porter, owner of Junction Building Supply and Small Town Supply in northern New York, attended training sessions at the Ace convention, worked on his marketing plan and looked for bargains on products.

He also had some takeaways from the general session that he plans to apply at his stores. A notable lesson he took home is that he needs to include his staff more in planning for growth, he says.

“Ace has good initiatives going on. I think we’re in good hands,” Porter says. “I think that the goals are tangible and will be good for every Ace retailer.”

About Kate Klein

Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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