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Leadership Series: The Value of Communication in Management

In this three-part series, we will highlight the lessons retailers have learned from leadership development and management programs inside and outside the industry. In the first installment, we featured Mike French, who enrolled in Do it Best’s Leadership Development Institute.

Mike French has consistently received the same feedback throughout his career:  “You’re too happy.” He’s disproved that feedback for years.

The yard supervisor at PC Lumber & Hardware in Sellersburg, Indiana, says having a positive attitude is a core part of his management philosophy, and he can see the impact it has on the 12 people he manages in the busy lumberyard.

“I want to leave everyone I interact with smiling,” French says. “Even if there is an issue we need to straighten out, when they leave my office, my job is to make sure everything is good and they leave smiling.”

PC Lumber & Hardware is a large building materials supplier in the Louisville metro area, which means the day-to-day workload can be stressful. Reducing that stress and making the yard an enjoyable place to work is one of French’s priorities.

Morale in the yard overall is higher if I keep a positive attitude,” he says. French has served in his role at PC Lumber & Hardware for almost six years. He spent the majority of his career in adjacent industries, including construction and trucking. He shopped at PC for his professional and personal hardware needs, so he was familiar with the business when he was approached to take on the role of yard supervisor.

“I built my house out of lumber from this location,” he says. “And it was a good fit for me to come into this position.”

Taking the Lead
Last fall, general manager Kevin Passanisi approached French about enrolling in a leadership development program offered through the company’s co-op. Initially, French says he was skeptical about what he might get out of the program. Because he had so much industry and management experience, he didn’t know if he would learn anything new.

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a great opportunity a program like this was to explore new ways to manage people,” he says. “I wanted to learn more about hiring and managing the up-and-coming generations because I come from an old-school way of doing things, and it’s not the way it used to be.”

French is happy to report that his initial concerns about the program were wrong. What he found through the program was a core group of industry leaders who share his philosophy of a positive attitude at the instructor level and with his fellow attendees. French says in addition to the content itself, the people involved in the program were a key reason it was so valuable for him.

“I would go through the program all over again, even if it were the same. I know I could get more out of it,” he says. “I don’t think it matters if you have 20 or 30 years in management, you’re going to gain something from this program.”

Additional Opportunities
Talk to your wholesaler representative about the leadership development and training options they have available.

Ace Retail Training

The co-op offers several different training programs, from online self-guided learning to in-store workshops and mentoring.

True Value Training

The wholesaler’s online training program includes courses in decision-making, leadership, performance excellence, presentation skills, project management and risk management.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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