When it comes to technology in retail, evolving is key to success, and this year’s North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA) Top Guns Award honorees show how technology, whether big or small, can take an operation to the next level.
For the 17th year, NHPA has chosen its Top Guns honorees, independent home improvement leaders who are pillars of innovation and have helped grow their businesses through strategic leadership with consideration for their communities, their teams and the industry. This year’s focus is on those who have implemented tech solutions in their operations that have improved customer service, boosted employee efficiency and refined overall operations. This year’s honorees are TJ Colson, president of Wilco Stores; Eric Hassett, owner and president of Hassett Hardware; and Scott Sommers, president of Hartville Hardware & Lumber.
“These Top Guns exemplify what it means to be a successful home improvement retailer, especially when it comes to utilizing technology in their operations,” says Bob Cutter, president and CEO of NHPA. “We are excited to honor their accomplishments and the ways they positively impact their operations and communities.”
Colson is the president of Wilco Stores, a division of Wilco Farmers, a regional farmer-owned cooperative that operates 25 retail farm stores in Oregon, Washington and California. He started his career with Wilco as a part-time warehouser while attending Linn Benton Community College and Oregon State University. Colson has served in several roles with the company and was named president of Wilco Stores in early 2022.
Hassett is a third-generation owner and president of Hassett Ace Hardware, a five-store operation in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hassett returned to the family business after college, and under his leadership, the company has grown from one store with 10 employees to five stores and 160 employees. Hassett is a strong believer in having an exceptional cultural foundation in the family’s stores to ensure they are providing the best service possible to the communities they serve.
Sommers serves as the president of Hartville Hardware & Lumber, the largest independently owned hardware store in the U.S. Driven by a passion for excellence, Sommers executes a strategy that aligns with the company’s strategic anchors: Best Place to Work, Best Guest Experience and Long-Term Sustainable Results. As a fourth-generation family member, Sommers is a driving force in reinforcing the company’s founding philosophy passed down by his grandfather to always put God first, give back to the community and treat others how you would like to be treated.
Each of the honorees will be featured in upcoming issues of Hardware Retailing and Paint & Decorating Retailer magazines. Top Guns honorees will also participate in a panel presentation at the 2023 NHPA Independents Conference on Aug. 2-3 in Dallas to discuss their technology strategies. During the conference, they will also be honored at an awards reception, which is sponsored by STIHL and the National Hardware Show.
Featuring keynote addresses from former Amazon and Google executives and panels from technology experts and retailers, the 2023 NHPA Independents Conference will focus on the ways technology can boost productivity and drive growth.