Hardware Retailing

MAY 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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May 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 177 Mark Wasson Inventory Manager, A Few Cool Hardware Stores Some of Schaefer's leaders at A Few Cool Hardware Stores spend a lot of their time behind the scenes. Mark Wasson oversees inventory for all 12 stores and works with managers at each location. He's helped open 10 of the locations. A leadership role was something he grew into over time. Here's what he has to say about his experience. Where I Started My first job was unloading the truck one day a week as a part-time employee when I started with the company 13 years ago. Eventually, I moved into the plumbing and electrical departments. Then I got the chance to help set up the store's automated ordering process. I moved on to an assistant manager position but was still involved in the inventory process. As Marc and Gina started opening up new stores, I helped with each one to get the inventory up and running in addition to my other duties. Then, eight years ago, I went full time as the company's inventory manager. I've grown into this position mainly by taking on more responsibility as it was offered. When I started, I never would have guessed I would someday be in charge of maintaining and ordering inventory for 12 stores, but I saw the opportunity and ran with it. How I Learned Gina has invested in me by sending me to training around the country. At the Top Gun retail training at Ace Hardware, for example, I really started learning leadership skills. We've also had an outside consultant come in to work with our team. Something else that was very valuable was taking the DiSC ® assessment, a tool that helps us understand each other's personality differences. That test gave us a lot of insights into how we could interact and communicate with each other more effectively. How to Be an Effective Leader Communication and building relationships is key. I spend time with every new hire as part of the onboarding process. Everyone in the company has a role to play in helping us effectively manage our inventory, so there is some training that goes on. But spending that time is about more than just knowledge. I want to create open lines of communication with all employees. One of the most challenging parts of being a leader is also one of the most rewarding. Marc and Gina give us a lot of freedom to plot our own course. I get to use my own judgment on what I think is important and what I should prioritize. They want to know what I'm doing, but they let me run with my plans. I think this model is great for effective leaders. It allows you to think outside the box and does not limit the possibilities. Even if it's something that doesn't end up working, it allows for creativity. Finally, I think it's important for a leader to lead by doing, not by telling. I've never asked anyone to do anything I've not done myself. That's one of the most effective teaching tools I have, being able to share my experience. Taking the Lead Mark Wasson (left) works with employees, including Carl Banks, to help them understand the company's inventory process.

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