The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and STIHL Inc. have announced an exclusive partnership for developing the leadership skills of the next generation of independent home improvement retailers.
The organizations made the announcement Dec. 8 at the NRHA State of Independents Conference in Chicago, where STIHL presented NRHA with a check for $100,000. The funding will help pay for the development of the NRHA Foundations of Leadership Program and the Foundations of Leadership Annual Conference through 2018. STIHL is the exclusive program and conference sponsor.
“One of the greatest challenges facing small businesses in general, and the retail hardware retailer specifically, is the professional development of leaders who will be responsible for the future success of their businesses,” says Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager for STIHL Inc.
“We retail our products exclusively through servicing dealers, and hardware retailers are an ever-increasing part of our dealer network. These businesses have always been at the heart of our success, so investing in their future is a perfect fit for who we are as a brand.”
Scheduled to launch in April 2017, NRHA’s Foundations of Leadership Program is designed to promote the development of personal leadership skills of young, aspiring retail leaders and help build stronger management teams to fuel growth for participating independent retailers.
The 16-week course, which will be delivered online, is currently being developed in conjunction with Ball State University’s John H. Schnatter Institute for Principled Entrepreneurship.
A consortium of independent retailers are guiding the development of the course curriculum. These retailers include leaders from Aubuchon Hardware, Buchheit, Friedman’s Home Improvement, Foxworth-Galbraith, Jerry’s Home Improvement, Sunshine Ace Hardware and Wilco Stores.
As part of the partnership, STIHL Inc. will also be the exclusive sponsor of the Foundations of Leadership Annual Conference, which is scheduled for Aug. 1-3 at NRHA’s headquarters in Indianapolis. The conference will feature presentations from Ball State University leadership experts and industry-focused panel discussions.
Conference access will be free to graduates of the Foundations of Leadership Program and the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program. All former NRHA Young Retailer of the Year honorees are also invited to attend for free.
Students’ sponsors from participating companies and top management from consortium retailers and STIHL Inc. will also be at the conference.
“We are proud to be working with STIHL Inc. to develop this exciting industry leadership initiative,” Bill Lee, NRHA president and CEO, says. “Time and time again, STIHL has demonstrated its unwavering support for independent retailers, and this is just one more example of how they are taking a stake in the future success of the independent channel. We can’t thank them enough for their support, and we look forward to a long partnership.”