Change and diversification are key to long-term growth for any company. That’s true even for a company that for the past 100 years has been focused on one segment of the market.
Since 1917, Kentucky Mine Supply Co. has sold mining supplies to coalfield operations around Harlan, Kentucky. While the coal business still accounts for the majority of the company’s sales, lately, president and general manager Mark Bushnell has been courting a new customer base. In 2015, he overhauled the salesfloor to be more consumer friendly and has refocused his marketing strategy.
“This has been a process of gradually reinventing ourselves,” he says. “We are still very active in selling to the mining business, but I knew, with the decline of the coal industry, if we didn’t diversify and reinvent our business, we wouldn’t make it.”
The hard work has been paying off. Sales increased 15 percent in 2016 and has increased steadily ever since. Recently, the company received Wallace Hardware’s 2018 PRO Retailer of the Year award. The company was also named a Paul L. Cosgrave Memorial Award Finalist.
Today, customers walking into the store, which now goes by the name Kentucky Mine Supply PRO Hardware, see 2,400 square feet of traditional retail, with modern shelving, endcaps and all of the core hardware categories.
Bushnell also knew that a comprehensive marketing strategy would be critical to start getting a new set of customers through the door. That’s where he leaned heavily on the PRO Group’s resources. Bushnell has been using their circular advertising program to tell the community around him that he is now DIY friendly. Inside the store, he’s used the department and aisle signage from PRO to simplify the shopping experience.
Appealing to a new customer base has also meant getting the store online. He is creating a website and a Facebook page and will start promoting PRO’s mobile coupons.
“PRO has helped me put together a marketing program that includes circulars and statement stuffers, along with posters I can use in the store to promote sale items,” he says. “We pride ourselves on customer service, but know pricing is also important. PRO’s pricing, especially on the circular items, keeps us competitive.”