Hardware Retailing

MAY 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2017 142 commercial contractor and the garden enthusiast all out of the same ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and accounting department. What's beneficial for one industry may be a hindrance or poor decision for another. Aside from financial resources, it's important to disperse your level of attention appropriately. It's easy to become blinded by sales volume and near- sighted by success. I'm incredibly thankful to have my brother involved, allowing us the flexibility to shift through each area of the business. HR: What unique challenges do you think independent retailers face in today's market? JM: I feel the common answer to this question would be Amazon and the big boxes. However, looking beyond the uncontrollable, the greatest area of concern is bridging the generation gap—not only with customers, but even so with employees. This concept will bleed into all key areas of a business. It's critical to step back and realize that the way not only your customer buys, but also the way you should be buying from vendors and probably most importantly, the way your employees buy in to your culture is changing significantly— effective yesterday! The worst part about it is, there's no clear formula. Every generation brings to the table certain strengths that you can't afford to ignore or leave out. Change management is obviously a large piece of the equation; for success, it's most important to have a non-discriminatory team who sincerely understands the necessary reasons for change. HR: What are some of the key opportunities that you feel independent retailers will have in short term? JM: Drive home the point that you are local, and encourage customers to buy that way. Many Millennials and Gen Y, specifically those with higher discretionary incomes, are attracted to a more premier, intimate shopping experience. This concept is best illustrated in the restaurant industry. The key word here is experience. Find a niche that may be a void in your community. In 1996, my father built a retail hardware store with a small garden center attached. Twenty years later, we have a garden center with a hardware store attached. People shop our hardware store hoping to fulfill a need or fix a problem, but wander outside and you'll find folks in search of an experience that involves a consumable product. HR: Where do you see the business in the next five years? JM: I would like to see us take a much more progressive stance as an organization. Far too many of our current processes are results of our business' evolution. Rather than us taking into account current variables, we are still playing outdated strategies in many of our high-impact areas. I'm not saying we are not eager to increase in number of locations, but I do believe there's far more to it than a financial decision. A Multi-Faceted Business Miller Hardware Company is a diverse business with a broad customer base. Its three divisions cover the industrial market, the core hardlines categories and the popular retail hardware and lawn and garden arena. Along with brick-and-mortar stores, each division has a strong online presence. Miller is currently working through a succession plan with his family. He says it's key to start the process early and give unfailing love and respect to everyone involved.

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