Hardware Retailing

AUG 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 | August 2017 92 Nothing But Net (Zero) F or the past couple of years, the electric meter has been spinning backwards at Brinkmann's True Value. In 2015, the company's location in Miller Place, New York, achieved net-zero energy status, which means it produces more energy than it consumes. According to Ben Brinkmann, who along with his brother Hank and sister Mary own the five-store business, their Miller Place location is the first retail store in the United States to achieve net-zero status. Their decision to go green was practical; the investment into a more energy- efficient operation will pay for itself in about four years and after that save thousands of dollars on energy costs. But going green also has a lot to do with setting an example for operating a business in a way that's healthy for the environment and committing to excellence. "We have always looked to do things the best way possible, in whatever we do," Ben says. "Once we learned about the possibilities of going net-zero, we wanted to be the ones to reach it." Investing in the Future At its core, Brinkmann's True Value is a traditional hardware operation serving homeowners, contractors and commercial customers, with an emphasis on paint, lawn and garden and outdoor living. "We're fairly traditional in our product mix, but we separate ourselves by striving to be the best," Ben says. "Nothing at Brinkmann's is just good enough. We believe in constantly reinvesting in our business." That's a set of values instilled by his parents, Tony and Pat. They opened their first 2,000-square-foot hardware store in 1976 in Sayville, New York, on a loan from Ben's grandmother, Oma. Growth in the business came steadily. Over the next three decades, they increased square footage and added locations, including several standalone paint stores. By Jesse Carleton, jcarleton@nrha.org New York Retailer Produces Power, Eliminates Its Utility Bill

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