Hardware Retailing

FEB 2018

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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In addition to their similar personalities, Cody says their similar approaches to business helped form a strong basis for their friendship. "Russ and I have a similar mindset of trying to do excellent work to succeed," Cody says. "Plus, it's always a bonus being able to talk to someone in the industry who understands the day-to-day job. As I got to know him, we both realized our job titles and responsibilities might be different, but we had a lot in common." Muller True Value Hardware is a single-store operation that serves mostly DIY customers. On the other hand, Bleyhl Co-Op is a regional operation in Washington that is owned by and serves farm and ranch growers. In addition to its headquarters, the company has 10 locations. While their businesses differ, their commitments to customers and family are the same. "As the seventh generation to work at my family business, it's personal for me," Cody says. "I see that same passion and family focus from Russ at Bleyhl Co-Op; even though they aren't related by blood, they're all family." The two continue to stay in touch, whether talking about business or just catching up. They recently connected at the True Value Fall Reunion in Chicago, and Cody says he's planning a trip to the West Coast to see Russ's business, visit wineries and spend time with Russ and his family. "My friendship with Russ has showed me that no matter what level of your career you're in, you can still enjoy what you're doing," Cody says. "I love what I'm doing. Growing up, I never would have thought I'd say that. My goal is to say that in 30 years my career is maturing like Russ's. When you do something you love, you can avoid burnout. He proves it's possible to do what you love and have fun." Russ says he has learned just as much from Cody along the way. "Cody has a different perspective and a different audience in a different part of the country," he says. "Even though Cody is half my age, I count him as a mentor for me because he is full of fresh ideas." Networking and becoming friends with other retailers in the industry is something all retailers should do, Cody says. "As an independent retailer, it's easy to feel like you're alone, but when you connect with someone, you have so much to relate to," he says. "Being willing to listen to others, ask questions and learn how others do business makes a big difference. Our industry is so unique because we can be independent but have the same purpose for why we do what we do, beyond wholesaler lines. Everybody has a unique perspective to share." Russ says all retailers should build relationships with their peers. "Going to NRHA gatherings and regional meetings is so important," Russ says. "There are so many fabulous independent business owners out there. Don't be afraid to talk to and meet new people. To last and ultimately succeed in the future, we all need to come together. As a collective group, we're much larger than any big-box store." " As an independent retailer, it's easy to feel like you're alone, but when you connect with someone, you have so much to relate to. " —Cody Goeppner, Muller True Value Hardware Russ Ward (left) and Cody Goeppner continued their friendship by reuniting at the True Value Fall Reunion in Chicago. February 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 77

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