Hardware Retailing

DEC 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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Independent Thinking I am positively, unabashedly optimistic about your future as an independent retailer. Wherever opportunity presents itself, an entrepreneur will step forward to give it a go. We are blessed to live in a place where individual freedom is valued, where risk-takers like you can pursue their dreams of building a business for themselves and their families. Right now there are unprecedented opportunities for independents who want to grow. This is my last column in Hardware Retailing, as I am retiring at the end of this month as CEO of your association, the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). I want to leave you with a positive message about your future. Since the 1960s, the trajectory of our industry has been one of consolidation. First, the wholesale distribution segment consolidated from hundreds to just a few major wholesalers and cooperatives. Then, the retail segment consolidated, leaving just two big boxes controlling about half of our $320 billion market. Parallel to this, manufacturing consolidated as well. Amazingly, 35,000 of you—resilient, family-owned home improvement businesses— have continued to thrive through this ongoing consolidation and change. You are a $160 billion-plus retail market, and you provide about half a million jobs to families in your local communities! Don't ever sell yourself short. You are doing something truly important. Succession and business transition have been big concerns in our industry, but our free markets have begun to sort out these issues. There is an accelerating trend toward retail consolidation among independents, driven by opportunities in the market. Retiring owners are looking for buyers, and buyers are looking to grow their store counts. All around the country, retailers are seizing the opportunity to grow, from the single-store owner buying a second store to small regional chains steadily expanding. These trends will continue and will bring their own challenges. So, now more than ever, the independent retailer will need a strong trade association. NRHA will help you meet the challenges of the coming years. Your trade association will continue to provide retail management education programs to develop the people you will need to grow your business. NRHA will continue to provide opportunities for you to network with your peers across wholesale affiliations to learn from each other and share management best practices. And, with the concentration of market power in the hands of fewer distributors, independent retailers will need a strong voice of advocacy. Your association will continue to listen to your concerns and will make your voice heard with your channel partners. My successor, Bob Cutter, grew up in a family business and is totally committed to your association's mission. He is a great friend, with great values, who deeply respects the risks you take operating your businesses. He is supported by a committed board of independent retailers and is surrounded by great people with deep experience. You can count on him to make your association more relevant and valuable than ever. To all of our friends in the manufacturing and wholesale communities, thanks for your support. Without it, we couldn't do all we've done to help the independent retailer succeed. We all have a stake in their success. Please continue to support NRHA as the association, and the industry, move forward. Personally, there are just too many people to thank for all the support and kindness I have received during my 20-plus years at NRHA. I have been richly blessed with more friends than anyone deserves. I'll just say that I have had the best job, with the best people, in the best industry there is—the hardware industry! Bill Lee, President and CEO blee@nrha.org " Your association will continue to listen to your concerns and will make your voice heard with your channel partners. " Now More Than Ever HARDWARE RETAILING | December 2017 8

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