At the True Value 2020 Spring Reunion, company leaders and independent retailers say the strategic investments True Value has made in recent years are beginning to blossom.
Held Feb. 13-16 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, the event welcomed retailers from across the U.S. and abroad. Attendees discovered new products and niche opportunities while taking advantage of special pricing and the return of True Value’s Buy With Confidence Guarantee, which promised retailers the price they see is the price they’ll pay, regardless of tariff activity.
Speaking at General Session, True Value president and CEO John Hartmann welcomed new and returning retailers. He highlighted four main points of continued strategic focus for the company: partnerships, products, price and supply chain.
“We know we have to earn the right to do business with you, over and over each day,” Hartmann says. “Everything we do—and I mean everything—is what you told us you need to thrive as retailers: the best products at a great price, there when you need them. Every investment we make is designed to deliver exactly that.”
Products and Possibilities on the Show Floor
Across the show floor, retailers browsed thousands of new products and drew inspiration from customizable planograms and unique merchandising possibilities. A popular destination for retailers was Assortment City, a 35,000-sq.-ft. shopping area with more than 500 separate product assortments for a range of departments.
Bassam Gobah, manager of AA Hardware, a five-store chain around Detroit, says new products were one of the main motivators to attending this year’s Reunion, but interacting face to face with vendors and POS partners was also helpful.
“At the Reunion, you can network and meet new people and solve problems in person,” he says. “It’s nice to get away from the store but still be productive and get a fresh look at new items.”
Gobah explored new planograms for his five stores and learned more about True Value’s paint program as he expands the category ahead of the busy spring DIY season.
‘They’re Listening to Us’
Throughout the weekend, retailers also had the chance to connect directly with True Value representatives to learn more about the tech, marketing and category resources available to them.
In particular, many retailers benefited from one-on-one demonstrations of the company’s Marketing Technology Suite, which enables retailers to create print and digital advertising, in-store signage and social media outreach. First-time Reunion attendee Janie Larios, retail marketing coordinator for Bleyhl Co-op in Washington, was eager to see how the marketing program could reach new customers and enable real-time pricing updates.
Larios traveled to the Reunion with Blehyl purchaser Kattie Blanchard and manager Cody Goeppner.
“Coming to Reunion has been great,” Blanchard says. “Looking at different opportunities—especially the Customized True Blue assortments—has been really beneficial for our store.”
Goeppner says that as True Value continues its focus on supply chain modernization, retailers and customers alike succeed.
“Every investment True Value makes in its supply chain helps every member,” he says. ”They’re listening to us, and that’s what’s most exciting. At this Reunion alone, we’ve sat down and addressed issues, and instantly we’re getting answers.”
Staying the Course
The True Value 2020 Spring Reunion General Session was full of Big Easy flair. Following a message from Hartmann, local musicians paraded through the aisles, giving attendees an early taste of Mardi Gras.
A Stronger Sales Force
Tim Mills, senior vice president of growth, gave attendees an update on True Value’s pledge to double the size of its sales force team. Retailers are now supported by a team of 24 sales managers, 140 field reps and dozens of customer care, order processing and retail support associates to help their businesses thrive.
“The team is twice the size it used to be, and the plan is to connect with you twice as many times as we did in the past,” Mills says.
Mills also shared welcome news to General Session attendees. Following a dry winter in many parts of the country that stalled sales of cold-weather staples like snow shovels, ice melt and other products, Mills announced True Value would offer free freight shipping to retailers on more than 100 WOW products until Monday, Feb. 17.
“We’re doing this to be the best partner possible and offer some relief,” Mills says.
David Elliott, senior vice president of marketing, says True Value’s marketing programs are shifting to optimizing digital returns and improving True Value brand performance.
“In order for your store to compete locally in the future, you need to present a strong brand,” Elliott says.
He reminded the audience of the benefits of the True Value Brand Program: for $1,800 annually, retailers receive an array of tools, including a customizable website designed to place high in the most popular search engines. Elliott also reaffirmed how important e-commerce is becoming in retail and outlined the ways True Value members can implement an e-commerce solution for their business.
New Pricing Power
At his first Reunion, vice president of pricing and sales operations Chico Gersappe shared how True Value’s pricing journey enables members to grow.
Gersappe says True Value remains committed to using new technology to develop data around pricing and help retailers remain competitive on local and national levels. Gersappe confirmed True Value had tested a new pricing strategy with more than 200 retailers to maximize profitability.
“In January, we made price adjustments to drive your gross margin on hundreds of targeted products that we know matter the most to your business and we’re gradually expanding this to all categories,” Gersappe says.
He says True Value has never been more focused on offering competitive pricing to its retailers.
“This is not a one-and-done fix,” he says. “This is an entirely new approach to pricing, one that will continue to improve over time. We’re going to be more competitive on price.”
Next Stop: Philadelphia
Stay tuned to Hardware Retailing for more updates on True Value’s focus on sales growth and new marketing opportunities, including interviews with Tim Mills and David Elliott.
The True Value 2020 Fall Reunion will be held in Philadelphia on Oct. 3-6. For more information on the event, visit True Value online.