Thousands of independent home improvement retailers gathered in Chicago Oct. 3-6 to celebrate True Value’s 2019 Fall Reunion. For retailers and True Value leadership alike, it was a chance to share success stories, explore special buying opportunities and look ahead to the company’s future.
Hartmann Says Retailers Guide True Value
The theme of this year’s Reunion was “Built for This,” a lasting mindset True Value president and CEO John Hartmann says dates back to the company’s founder, John Cotter.
“He knew that retailers could thrive given the best access to product and low pricing while retaining their complete independence… Today, we operate under the same philosophy.”
Hartmann referenced True Value’s ongoing investments in modernizing its supply chain with a new regional distribution center (RDC) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, as well as recent efforts to double the size of the company’s sales force and streamline its digital marketing programs for local success.
Hartmann also shared how recent trips across the country to meet with True Value retailers in their own stores have guided the company’s vision.
“Those conversations inform everything we do,” he says. “We are driving even faster and changing more rapidly than we ever have. We are intently focused on what you say is important to you: competitive pricing on great, customized assortments, a supply chain that delivers higher-than-industry fill rates, cutting-edge local marketing that drives footsteps and sales, and a sales organization that supports your growth and profitability.”
Across the Show Floor
The Reunion show floor was filled with more than 5,000 vendors offering previews of new products, from the latest grilling innovations and outdoor furniture to smart home additions and can’t-miss consumables.
Making a return at this Reunion was True Value’s “Buy With Confidence Guarantee,” which ensures the price retailers see on Reunion products is the price they pay, regardless of tariff activity. Elsewhere, retailers took advantage of discounts up to 85 percent off closeout items. The company also presented 23 new Customized True Blue categories in its 35,000-square-foot Assortment City section.
For father and son Michael and Kevin Fague, co-owners of Pague & Fegan True Value in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, attending the 2019 Fall Reunion was a chance to plan for their operation’s success.
“The Reunion is always a fun event,” Kevin says. “I’ve seen a lot of new vendors here with really well-built, quality products. It’s been a worthwhile trip.”
They were excited to hear updates on the new RDC, which is located roughly 50 miles from their store and scheduled to open soon.
“I think fulfillment is going to be a lot better. The transition to the hub-and-spoke model is going to be really helpful. Quick shipping is something we really sell to our customers and they love it,” Kevin says.
The father and son agree attending Reunions is important, and this year’s event reinforced their trust in the company’s direction.
“We believe in the True Value brand. They’re here to support us,” Kevin says.
True Value Team Outlines New Initiatives
The General Session also included news and operational updates from a range of True Value executives.
- Inventory Management
John Armbrecht, divisional vice president of technology, says his team has worked to enhance the company’s ordering platform Netwarehouse by fortifying its search feature. The platform will also use state-of-the-art serverless technology to improve reliability for retailers.
“This will give you a better, faster, more stable experience,” he says. Netwarehouse will soon be available on desktops and all mobile devices for greater in-store convenience.
- Operational Support
Reunion attendees also heard from Gabriel Fuentes Perez, divisional vice president of international. Perez says True Value added more than 600 new stores in the last year, which enables the company to strengthen its collective buying power.
Perez also informed attendees on plans to add more territory account managers, giving retailers more specialized attention than ever.
“The idea is to provide you with a partner who will spend more time with you and go deeper analyzing the business opportunities for each store and who will help you grow,” he says.
- Supply Chain Innovation
Vice president-supply chain Lyndsi Lee and vice president-supply chain operation Jim Harrington profiled the ways the new RDC in Wilkes-Barre will benefit retailers.
“We’ve reduced costs and improved productivity. We’re using the cost savings to help bolster fill rates with additional inventory, to help fund the new northeast RDC and help pay for additional hub-and-spoke rollouts over the next few years,” Harrington says.
Lee pointed to the success of the Midwest hub-and-spoke supply chain which launched last November.
“The Midwest spokes continue to average above 99 percent fill rates, which means having the products you need, when you need them, in the quantities you need,” Lee says.
She says the first hub-and-spoke RDC’s impact on local retailers is motivating the company to roll out the supply chain model to all regions over the next two years.
Harrington says the newly built 1 million-square-foot RDC in Wilkes-Barre will house “the broadest and deepest volume of inventory across the network and set the new gold standard for how all RDCs will serve you and your stores going forward.”
- Local Digital Marketing
Senior vice president-marketing Dave Elliott shared information on how current and upcoming digital advertising possibilities can help retailers grow in-store sales with an emphasis on remaining “proudly local.”
Elliott says in 2020, retailers will be able to gauge not only how many people viewed their digital ads, but also how many viewers later walked into their stores.
Elliott also announced the start of two new marketing capabilities: local e-commerce and local websites replacing existing True Value websites.
Elliott says local e-commerce, in which a customer who buys an item online receives it from a retailer’s in-stock inventory and not via a special order, is ready to launch now. Local websites will replace all True sites by the end of 2019, he says.
“True Value is on the leading edge when it comes to using technology to personalize your marketing to your customers on a local level,” he says.
Setting Sights on New Orleans
The True Value Spring 2020 Reunion will take place in New Orleans Feb. 14-16. Stay tuned to Hardware Retailing for complete coverage.