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 146 Hardware Retailing (HR): Can you give us a little background on your company and how you got involved in the business? Was this your first career choice? Diana Brunjes Newton (DBN): I grew up working in our family business, Craftwood Lumber & Hardware, in Highland Park, Illinois. But when I went off to college in 2002, I decided to go into education, as I always wanted to be a high school math teacher and teachers were in demand. By the time I graduated in 2006, that market was very saturated, so I ended up working part-time at a tutoring center, and also part-time in the family business. I would work at Craftwood from 6 a.m. until noon. Then I would start tutoring at 2 p.m. and be there until 8 p.m. I received several promotions while at the tutoring center, and was essentially running the place after a couple of years. It was great. I got my fill of education while working with students and teachers, but also got to work in the family business. Unfortunately the owner of the tutoring center and I butted heads a lot. I didn't feel appreciated and expressed that to my father. At about the same time, he had been talking to the owner of Bay Hardware in Seal Beach, California. We had to check it out before moving on with any real negotiations. My parents and I came out to California to visit the store for the first time, and I just fell in love. HR: What was the store like when you purchased it? DBN: The store was in a tailspin financially, but I could see its potential. It was going to require a lot of work. When we first walked in, we were struck by the size: only 3,000 square feet. A lot of hooks were empty, pricing seemed inconsistent and a couple employees passed us by without a hello. So my parents and I talked about it, and we decided to go for it! For me, this was the best decision I had ever made. These series of events to follow have changed my whole life. But looking back, I definitely wasn't as prepared as I thought. Operationally, some procedures in place were inefficient, and the inventory file was a bit of a mess. When I came in, I tried to lead by example, and I brought forth my ideas, work ethic, care, love and appreciation for what I do. If you don't care about what you do or where you are working, it's reflected in what your store looks and feels like to your customers. That was in was 2009. I was 25 years old, and I really had to prove myself to the employees and the customers. I was criticized for any mistake or bad decision I made—which were truly learning lessons, looking back. There were a lot of Bay Hardware Seal Beach, California (Two locations) Diana Brunjes Newton

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