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Retail Management Certification Program

NRHA’s Management Program Graduates Set Sights on the Future

Their topics varied, but their goals were the same: improve their businesses through ambitious, innovative projects.

The group of leaders from independent home improvement stores throughout the U.S. met Aug. 10 to present plans for projects they developed as they participated in the Retail Management Certification Program, which is a college-level training course offered through the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA).

The program participants’ project topics included designs for a new store, employee onboarding and training, inventory management, reimagining a hardware business as a design hub and growing sales through creative marketing and events.

The students met during the spring and summer in Indianapolis for collaborating, networking and in-class teaching from Ball State University instructors and industry leaders.

The capstone project for program participants was a detailed, actionable plan with clear returns on investment for each of the businesses they represented.

After presenting their final projects Aug. 10, the students voted for the plan that impressed them the most.

Russ Ward, vice president of retail operations for Bleyhl Co-Op in Grandview, Washington, got the most votes from his peers for his ground-up store construction plans.

“We have to create world-class experiences,” Ward says of the agricultural store and farm-to-table dining concept he developed.

Ward’s business hadn’t finalized a new store location yet and only had preliminary drawings for the building when he began the Retail Management Certification Program in April of 2017.

He is the project lead for the new store, so getting help with the project through the Retail Management Certification Program was a natural fit, Ward says.

Course instructors who discussed retail layout and design and students who gave feedback on architectural drawings provided valuable advice as Ward led Bleyhl Co-Op in developing detailed plans to build the store, he says.

“It’s retro, yet modern,” program instructor Rob Mathews told Ward. “It touches the whole demographics of the area. It’s brilliant.”

For more information about the Retail Management Certification Program, contact Tom Marcum at tmarcum@nrha.org or call 317-440-9782

About Kate Klein

Kate Klein
Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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