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PRO Group, Bostwick-Braun Award New Scholarship

One employee at a PRO Hardware store will soon be learning more about retail management and leadership development thanks to some help from the Denver-based PRO Group, Inc. and Toledo, Ohio-based Bostwick-Braun.

Anthony Wilkerson, assistant manager at Burkhardt PRO Hardware in Cincinnati, is the first recipient of the Gary D. Cosgrave NRHA Retail Management Certification Program Scholarship. The scholarship will cover a portion of the costs for Anthony to attend the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) Retail Management Certification Program. The program, which is put on in conjunction with Butler University in Indianapolis, is designed to provide business owners with a comprehensive, six-month college-level educational program to develop the leadership and management capabilities of high-potential employees.

Wilkerson has worked at the store since the beginning of the year, starting out part-time and quickly becoming a full-time employee and later, a manager. He learned about the program and the scholarship through Sue Flory, owner of Burkhardt PRO Hardware, and immediately knew he was interested in applying.

“I really wanted to further my learning experience and knowledge in hardware and business management,” he says. “I want to be the best, the top of the game.”

Wilkerson hopes to one day take over the store for Flory and her husband when they retire, and he believes the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program will give him some of the knowledge he will need to do just that. In addition, the scholarship will offer financial assistance as he works to gain that knowledge.

“I’m very excited about winning it, and I have some great hopes and expectations about what I’ll learn from the program,” he says. “I’m very thankful to have received the scholarship.”

Flory is also looking forward to the opportunity Wilkerson has been given. “Anthony has the product knowledge and customer service skills we look for in all our employees,” she says. “We’re really excited for him—we think this will be a great way for him to get training in all levels of retail. We’re very proud of him and happy for him.”

“Gary Cosgrave’s contribution to PRO Group over the past 49 years continues as the company establishes a scholarship in his honor,” says Steve Synnott, president and CEO of PRO Group. “Cosgrave demanded that PRO Group focus on retail and was known for tailoring the company’s marketing and merchandising focus to the last three feet of the retail shopping experience. PRO Group is proud to award the first recipient of the Gary D. Cosgrave Retail Management Certification Scholarship, which is designed to defray a portion of the expense of NRHA’s program.”

“We are delighted that PRO Group and Bostwick-Braun are taking a leadership role to offer a scholarship for one of their key retailer customers,” says Scott Wright, NRHA’s Vice President of Members Services. “It shows the dedication they have toward the success of their independent retailer customers as well as to the future success of the independent channel in our industry.”

For more information about the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program and available scholarship opportunities, go to www.nrha.org/rmcp or contact Wright at 317-275-9417 or swright@nrha.org.

Anthony Wilkerson (left), the assistant manager at Burkhardt PRO Hardware in Cincinnati, recently received PRO Group’s Gary D. Cosgrave NRHA Retail Management Certification Program Scholarship to attend the Spring 2015 class that starts in February. Jerry Clasey (right), president of the Hardware Business unit at Bostwick-Braun, presented the scholarship to Wilkerson and store owner Sue Flory.

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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