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Recognizing an Opportunity in Uncertainty

Sometimes it takes hardship to realize the potential to succeed. Hardship—and a little coincidence—led Cody Goeppner, retail manager at Bleyhl Co-op in Washington state, to completely rethink his career plans in 2017.

After college and brief careers in theater and restaurant management, Goeppner moved home to southern Indiana to serve as a manager at his family’s business, Muller True Value Hardware, although it wasn’t one of his initial career goals.

“Growing up, I never wanted to be involved in the family business,” Goeppner says. “But I realized what a great opportunity I had there.” To better prepare him for his new role, his mom and Muller True Value co-owner enrolled him in the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program (RMCP).

“When I got to the first class meeting, I thought I was so unqualified. I was a 20-something manager in a room of operations managers and vice presidents with years of industry experience,” Goeppner says. “But by the end of the first class meeting, we had made lifelong connections that we still rely on today. We all brought something valuable to the conversation, no matter what our level of experience.”

Clearing Up the Future
After Goeppner completed the program, he returned home to Muller True Value only to have his entire future upended a few weeks later: His mom and grandparents decided to close the store. “Closing a family business may seem like the end to some people,” Goeppner says. “But it felt like a bigger opportunity to me.”

Since joining the management team at Bleyhl Co-op in 2017, Cody Goeppner (left) has mentored (from left to right) Roman Chavez, Kattie Blanchard and Victor Garcia through the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program.

That bigger opportunity was sowed through a connection Goeppner made in RMCP. Bleyhl Co-op CEO Dan Morano had met Goeppner at the final class session and was impressed with his zeal for the industry. After learning Goeppner’s career plans had changed when his family business closed, Morano invited him out to tour Bleyhl and offered him a position to develop the farm store’s retail operations. Goeppner quickly earned the respect of his new co-workers, and he knew he had Morano’s support to enroll new Bleyhl managers in RMCP to further develop their skills and knowledge.

Today, Goeppner has sponsored three other Bleyhl managers through the program, with more on the horizon.

“There’s just nothing like this program out there,” he says. “It covers every aspect of the business and is applicable to so many different kinds of home improvement operations. I know when I send my team through RMCP, they are going to grow from the experience, and they’re going to come back to the store with new ideas and a new passion.”

RMCP Takeaways

RMCP Takeaways

Learn more than just retail operations knowledge.
“If I didn’t go through that training, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The class brought out what was already inside me, and it so easily translates to different types of operations. No two operations do things exactly the same way, but this program brings them all together in humbling and exciting ways.”

Better understand yourself and your team.
“RMCP helped me be more intentional about delegating tasks. You can hand the same project to different people and they will all complete it differently. What I learned is that you need to give projects to the key people who can take them across the finish line. When you’re able to know the strengths and opportunities of yourself and your team, that’s huge.”

Gain a new perspective mentoring your managers.
“We’ve been fortunate to send three managers through the program. I have served as a mentor, helping them develop their business improvement projects. Being a part of that is awesome because I get to see someone else’s perspective. They all came back from their first visits on fire, and it reignited it in me because I remembered how that felt.”

Additional Opportunities
NRHA has development programs available for staff members at every level of your organization.

  • Foundations of Leadership
    This 16-week online course is geared toward developing new managers. Visit nrha.org/rli for details.
  • Online Basic Training
    From general project knowledge to basic accounting, these courses cover the gamut. Go to nrha.org/online-training to see what’s available. Want to find out how the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program can inspire your team? Visit nrha.org/rmcp or contact Scott Wright at swright@nrha.org.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie Moul
Melanie is the managing editor for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She has worked for the association since 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking without recipes and watching online makeup tutorials. She and her husband are raising their son and two fur children in Indianapolis.

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