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World and Main CEO Takes Questions on Company Changes

Don Devine

Hardware Holdings, LLC, owner of Handy Hardware in Texas, changed its corporate name this month to reposition the company as a national distributor.

The new name, World and Main, LLC, is intended to present the company as the operational distributor it has become, sourcing products from around the world and bringing them to thousands of customers across the U.S.

Below, World and Main CEO Don Devine answers questions about the changes to Hardware Holdings and how the company can serve retailers better as World and Main.



Hardware Retailing: What prompted the name change and how does it represent a significant change for the organization?

Don Devine: Our goal was to create a national omnichannel distributor for home hardware and building supply products, leveraging the strength of each of our acquired companies. As we brought the companies together, it became clear that we wanted to create a common and powerful brand identity that communicated to our customers that regardless of which predecessor company with whom they did business that their supplier partner was now part of a larger more capable company focused on driving their success.

 HR: In addition to the name change, what else are you doing to change the company during this time of transition? 

DD: We’re in the process of improving every area of the company, to include quality systems, supply chain reliability, stronger and deeper category and merchandising management, information technology, staffing and building a great product assortment of both branded and owned-brand products. And as a larger company, we’re able to attract great talent, so we’ve really upgraded a lot of key roles inside of our organization. We’re also able to invest in improving our business in a way that the smaller predecessor companies were not able to do. We’re very much a work in progress, but we want our customers to have a clear idea of where we’re taking the company and how this new company can help them succeed.

 HR: What does repositioning the company under the World and Main name mean for the retailers it does business with?

DD: We know our retailers are in the business of meeting the needs of consumers and trade professionals and to do that they’ve got to have the right assortments, priced right and in stock, with reliable replenishment. In order to meet the needs of the consumer and the trade professional, the independent dealer must be able to access products from around the world and if the dealer doesn’t, they’ll go out of business.

That’s where we come in. We can do this with branded products or products sold under our own brands, sourced from around the world. We have a team in China that’s in an office that we established in 1998, covering the greater Asian region and teams in the U.S. covering the Americas and Europe to ensure our retail partners have access to the best brands and the best value. Thus, the name World and Main. We bring the world to Main Street. Dealers really have to have folks who are out there scouring the world to help them have the right assortment at the right price and in their store when they need it.

HR: What are some of the factors that differentiate your value proposition to independents?

DD: One, we serve multiple customer verticals, from food and drug to commercial and industrial to plumbing wholesale to local hardware store dealers to regional retailers and, in some cases, to national retailers. This really enhances a couple of things. One, it gives us a broad assortment. It also gives us great scale in purchasing so that acquisition costs are competitive. And more importantly, it gives us great insights into what drives success in each of the categories we serve. We complement that with what we consider a flexible distribution model.

We can serve our customers if they want to purchase containers overseas on a direct-import basis all the way down to individual items delivered by small parcel, next-day service, and every combination in between within a single category or across multiple categories. We like to call it the “all of the above” distribution model, which is very flexible, tailored to meet the needs of our customers.

The last thing I would point out is there are a couple of categories that we would really like to call attention to where we would call superior category competencies. Those would be in plumbing. When we purchased Jones Stephens, we acquired a business that has 18,000 plumbing SKUs. Home environment is another category where we think we have superior competency, and another would be hardware and security. In each of these categories, we sell across multiple channels. We have great purchasing scale. We have a flexible distribution model. We really provide what we consider significant delivered value.

 HR: How can World and Main help independents bolster their businesses against big-boxes and other competitors?

DD: It’s about the right assortments, competitively priced, reliably fulfilled. And we think that our ability to manage a complex supply chain and provide that at the right delivered value to our customers really enables their success. Ultimately, we are delivering simplicity, taking complexity, making it simple and doing it in a way that allows our customers to profitably serve their customers and facilitates their success. We like to be easy to do business with. We have among the lowest costs in the industry regarding fees. And we talked earlier about our flexible distribution model.

 HR: How are you moving away from reputations of being a holding company or regional distributor?

DD: We think that the acquisition strategy that we pursued is truly synergistic. It is going from the collection of five businesses to creating a nationally operating company that can serve multiple channels for the benefit of our customers. And hence, the operating company name of World and Main as opposed to Hardware Holdings, which really sounded like a holding company rather than one that was going to integrate the capabilities of each of the businesses such that we would, from that integration, capture synergies that we could then pass on to our customers through better supply chain operations and better acquisition costs in the right delivered value.

We don’t want to be a holding company. We’re a national omnichannel distributor focused on delivering simplicity and facilitating the success of our customers.

Company Background

Hardware Holdings of Cranbury, New Jersey, was created in 2013 through the merger of the distributors Howard Berger Company and Handy Hardware. Over the past two years, the company made a series of acquisitions, including Jones Stephens Corp., The Faucet Queens, Inc. and WordLock Inc.

About 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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