The numbers are in, and the National Hardware Show, which was held May 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, saw thousands of attendees and vendors from more than 100 countries, truly making it the “must-see” event in the home improvement industry.
“This year’s Show was a great success,” said Rich Russo, vice president, National Hardware Show. “We hope it was enjoyable and productive for all our attendees and exhibitors. Based on the activity on the Show floor each day and feedback we’ve received, it sounds like everyone took advantage of the opportunities to learn, network, discover new products, build new relationships, and much more.”
Attendees seemed to enjoy their time at the show. Some, like Dave Umber of Umber’s Do it Best Hardware in Ft. Wayne, Ind., were looking for new products.
“Our goal at this Show was to find new niches,” he said. “We don’t carry pull-behind trailers, and we know something like that sitting in front of our store would be a draw. We also looked at grills and grill supplies to expand the category.”
Other retailers enjoyed the seminars and other learning opportunities.
“I’ve really enjoyed the NRHA Village so far,” said Kathy Kanter of HL Borden Lumber and Hardware LLC in Strasburg, Va. “It is a great place to sit down, listen to the speakers and leave with takeaways I can easily implement in my business.”
The Show is organized by15 featured product categories helping attendees to efficiently find the vendors and products they were looking for.
In the Energy Efficient area, located in the New Product World in the Central Hall, vendors showcased their environmentally friendly products that can save consumers money on their energy bills.
Nearby is a display of Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery products. This category first appeared at the Show last year and is a popular one for retailers looking to stock their stores with everything consumers will need in an emergency or natural disaster.
“People are just realizing they need to be more prepped for the power to go out. It seems very much to be an emerging category,” according to Jason McGowin, vice president of sales for Stower, a company from San Francisco that makes fire-powered electronics chargers.
In the Made in USA area, manufacturer Rustica Hardware of Provo, Utah, displayed its selection of doors and hardware. The company uses as many American-made parts as possible.
“We think if we outsource things, we lose creativity and quality,” said Ben Lewis, director of marketing.
The One-on-One appointments were a new feature at the Show this year. They’re a way to connect independent retailers with exhibitors in 15-minute appointments. Both parties submitted information to the National Hardware Show (what products retailers are looking to buy, minimum orders required from manufacturers and other pertinent information) to match up retailers and manufacturers that could benefit from a meeting.
The OSA Auction, a three-day digital auction, was also a new feature at this year’s Show. The auction came from collaboration between the National Hardware Show and RNO Exhibitions, it included the sale of hundreds of product lots, including new, current, overstock, discontinued, seasonal change and packaging change products. All bidding was done virtually through the NHS mobile app.
The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village Stage, this year located in the Central Hall, stayed busy with a variety of speakers—with many speaking on the NRHA All-Industry Conference’s theme of “Generations,” which offered advice on managing employees across generations.
The keynote speaker, generational expert Scott Zimmer, talked about different generations of employees in retail today and how to create a balanced mentality among a team made up of employees from several different generations.
“Whether you work in retail, the corporate sector or are in manufacturing, a generational, demographic shift that is happening,” Zimmer said. “When we have these different generations working shoulder to shoulder it can create a bit of tension since people have different methods of recruiting, retaining and even delivering feedback.”
Jim Robisch, senior partner with the Farnsworth Group, spoke about generational buying patterns in the home improvement industry. Robisch presented data that gave insights into how different generations shop for and purchase home improvement products and offered some ideas of how retailers could better reach out to these customers.
“All of these generations are different in one respect but then very similar in other areas,” Robisch said. “For example, all generations place the same importance on stores having good sale prices and being organized. Yet they rate the importance of employees providing information for projects very differently, with baby boomers valuing that aspect the most.”
Pat Murphy, vice president of mobile relationship management for FunMobility, Inc., discussed how to best use mobile marketing to reach millennials. He talked about ways to engage millennials online through different forms of social media and how retailers could best market to this growing demographic.
Continuing with the generational theme, Ruth Furman of ImageWords Communications shared some tips for generational target marketing. She discussed strategies to help independent retailers engage with customers of all generations.
The next day’s slate of speakers got off to a strong start with a panel that discussed the next generation of independent owners. The panel, which was moderated by Scott Wright, executive director of the Retail Leadership Institute with NRHA, included some of the industry’s notable young retailers, who discussed key issues facing the next generation of owners.
Will Aubuchon, vice president of sales at Aubuchon Hardware in Westminster, Massachusetts, shared his perspective on the challenges the industry and his stores are facing, especially when it comes to changes in customer service expectations for employees.
“Customer service is evolving but you have to start with people first and foremost, so recruiting and training really good people is still highly relevant today,” Aubuchon said. “Technology is playing a big role in what customer service means today. Putting the power more in the hand of the consumers.”
Next up on stage were Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand and Dan Tratensek of NRHA, who presented the results of a new joint research project that looked at the financial impact independent home improvement businesses have on their communities.
“There’s no doubt that supporting local businesses is beneficial to a community,” Brunelle said. “Previous research has shown that independently owned businesses provide substantial, quantifiable economic benefits. Our work with NRHA has produced some exciting results, which illustrate the impact specifically within the hardware, outdoor power equipment, paint and lumber industry. We are thrilled to share the findings of the Home Sweet Home Study and their potential impact on locally owned hardware stores.”
Gary Pittsford, CFP and president of Castle Wealth Advisors, talked about one of the biggest topics in the home improvement industry: succession planning. Pittsford discussed the current state of succession planning among family businesses and how it will impact the home improvement industry in coming years.
Creating a succession plan involves not only evaluating a business, but also determining who the buyer will be, and having some difficult discussions.
“You have to look at who’s going to be involved in the business and who is going to have control, which can be a touchy subject in some family businesses,” Pittsford said. “It’s a difficult decision when you have two or three kids in the company and you have to think if one should be a majority stockholder. Sometimes 50/50 works, but not always.”
Plenty of retailers and manufacturers were recognized in a variety of awards ceremonies at the National Hardware Show. Listed below are some of the awards that were presented and the winners who received them:
NRHA’s Young Retailer of the Year:
- Sam Ransdell, manager, Burney Hardware, Aberdeen, North Carolina (Under $2 Million in Annual Sales)
- Matt Woods, business manager, Woods Hardware, Cincinnati, Ohio (Under $2 Million in Annual Sales)
- Heather Kreffer, dealer-owner, High River Home Hardware Building Centre, High River, Alberta, Canada (Over $2 Million in Annual Sales)
- Dallin Redd, owner, Redd’s Ace Hardware, Blanding, Utah (Over $2 Million in Annual Sales)
- David Cripe, co-owner and general manager, Whitmore Ace Hardware, Wilmington, Illinois (Multiple Stores)
- Jason Fujimoto, chief operating officer, HPM Building Supply, Keaau, Hawaii (Multiple Stores)
- Jonathan Miller, director of e-commerce, Miller Hardware Company, Valdosta, Georgia (Multiple Stores)
- Ryan Ringer, general manager, Gold Beach Lumber, Gold Beach, Oregon (Multiple Stores)
Golden Hammer Awards:
The 31st annual Golden Hammer awards, presented by Hardware + Building Supply Dealer, honored the best of the best in the home improvement industry.
Joe Scarlett, retired chairman of Tractor Supply Co., was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Retailer of the Year award went to Orchard Supply Hardware, and the Tools of the Trade award was presented to Shell Lumber & Hardware.
Hardware Retailing’s Retailers’ Choice Awards:
- Infinity Level, Mosley
- SureSeal, RectorSeal
- easystrap, easystrap Group
- 3 in One Truck Ties,Profiler, Inc.
- myLifter, EGI
- Tiki Toss, Mellow Militia LLC
- Fishbone Knotless Rope Tie, Fishbone Knotless Rope Tie
- Pizza Oven Box, BakerStone
- TIE BOSS, TIE BOSS LLC
- The GunBox, SafeTech Products/The GunBox
- SOUNDSHIELD Safety Glasses with earplugs, ReadyMax Tools and Safety
- BetterVent, ADR Products
- Screenmend, Fiber Fix
- Dish Genie, Danco
- Pioneer Wood Patina, Pioneer Wood Products
- Fire Pit Pro, Orion Safety Products
- Joki Hanging Crow’s Nest, LA SIESTA
- NemaGlobe Nemotodes Pot Popper, Environmental factor
- Spinning Bulk Driving Display, Task Tool
- Kneepads, TommyCo Kneepads Inc.
- trash-ease, trash-ease/JPC products LLC
- Himalayan Salt Cooking Plate, Salt Rox, LLC
- Gorilla Mounting Tape, The Gorilla Glue Co.
- CO2 Fridge Tap, Leland Gas Technologies
- Rain-X shower door water repellent, ITW
- Add-a-Handle, We Have it Handled Corp.
- Airlighter, Bison
- Gift Wrap That Grows, Triumph Plant Company
- Camo Mullet Buster Suspension Rig, BUCKET BOSS
- Flexzilla Pro, Legacy Mfg Co.
PDRA Scholarship Winner:
The Paint and Decorating Retailer’s Association and the National Hardware Show teamed up to present the annual $5,000 scholarship to Kevin Jones, who plans eventually to take over his family’s business, Huffman Paint & Wallcoverings in High Point, North Carolina.
NRHA’s Packaging and Merchandising Awards:
- Whole Package Award: Charcoal Box USA and Adjustco
- Merchandising Gold Award Winners: Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc., GutterWhiz LLC, Corona Clipper, Lucky Line Products
- Packaging Gold Award Winners: Eaton’s Cooper Lighting Business, 3M, Health Outdoor Products, Fluidmaster, H.D. Hudson Manufacturing Co., Sunshine Makers, Inc. Danco, DAP Products Inc., Hyde Tools Inc.
- The Industry’s Top Guns:
- Bobby Fuller of Fuller & Son Hardware in Arkansas
- Michael Fujimoto of JPM Building Supply in Hawaii
- Jason Haley of Great Lakes Ace in Michigan
- Rolando Robles of Anawalt Lumber in California
American Manufacturing Awards:
- Best Packaging: Walters Seed Company
- Best On-Site Marketing: Rite in the Rain/JL Darling LLC
- Best Booth Display: New Haven Hardware
- Best New Product: Adams Manufacturing
Homewares Show Awards, presented by HomeWorld Business magazine:
- Gold: EnforcerOne LLC
- Silver: DoorJammer
- Bronze: Paint Handy
- Honorable Mention: CAIG
Lawn, Garden and Outdoor Living Awards, presented by Lawn & Garden Retailer:
- Gold: EcoClear Products
- Silver: The AMES Companies
- Bronze: BBQ Dragon
- Honorable Mention: Black Diamond International Forest Group
New Product Launch Awards, presented by Amazon:
- Gold: Charcoal Box
- Silver: EasyStrap
- Bronze: Fiskars Brands
- Honorable Mention: Paint Glider
New Product World Awards, presented by DIY Network:
- Aesthetics: WaterWell Planters
- Differentiation & Uniqueness: eMeasure, Inc. – E Tape 16
- Fills Consumer Needs: EZ Lawn & Garden – EZ Leaf Hauler
- Overall Value: Red Horse USA, Inc. – Winbag
- Packaging/Merchandising Support: Back to the Roots – Garden in a Can
Game Ball Awards, presented by Tailgater Magazine:
- Best Overall Product: Dometic Corp.
- Best Marketing Concept: Fish Bone
- Best Innovative Product: Burnie Grill
- Best New Product: Select Outdoor Kitchens
- Best Tailgate Concept Product: A-MAZE-N Products, Inc.
50 Campfires — The Camping Authority Awards:
- Best New Products: EasyStrap, Campmaid Dutch Oven Flap Grill
- Best Tech: BBQ Dragon, Maverick Pro, Thermocouple Thermometer
- Essential Gear: Campfire Grill Explore, Clean Flame Rapid Fire
- Editors Choice: Fish Bone Knotless Rope Tie, Trash Ease
UIA (United Inventors Association) Stage Awards:
- Pinnacle Award (Best All Around Product): EZ Smart Tool
- Best Product Pitch: Smokette Grill
- Most Innovative Product: Trifold Cart
Lancaster Buying Show
Once again, the Lancaster Buying Show was co-located with the National Hardware Show and for the first time, featured on the Show floor, making it easier for Lancaster buyers to source both the Lancaster Buying Show vendors, as well as the rest of the National Hardware Show. Lancaster, the largest paint sundry distributor serving a broad range of independent retailers, has co-located its show with the National Hardware Show for the past three years.