2014 National Hardware Show® Off to a Strong Start

May 05, 2014

(NORWALK, Conn. May 5, 2014) — With the chime of a gong and the boom from cannons of confetti, the 69th annual National Hardware Show® started off with a bang this morning at the opening ceremonies that kicked off the three-day event, which is being held through Thursday, May 8, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

From costumes to people on stilts to the cheerleading squad from UNLV, the atmosphere was a festive one for the crowd of attendees and exhibitors who had gathered around the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) Village Stage for the official start of the show.

Today’s theme was World of Home Improvement, which celebrated suppliers to the home improvement industry by recognizing and celebrating international exhibitors.

“The National Hardware Show looks like it’s off to a good start,” says Greg Schlecht, owner of Greg’s True Value in St. Francis, Wis. “There’s a lot of excitement, and there are some great seminars to attend. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of new products over the next few days, too.”


Once the excitement from the opening ceremonies had died down, the momentum continued on the Village Stage with a slew of speakers addressing a variety of the most important topics within the home improvement industry today.

Mark Herbek, a senior research analyst with Cleveland Research Company, took the stage for a keynote presentation called “Amazon and Beyond,” where he discussed the business habits and trends of Amazon, one of the largest retailers in the marketplace today.

Herbek shared his insights into the fast-growing company and talked about what that data could mean for the home improvement industry and for the future of e-commerce and retail trends.

“Suppliers and retailers now must develop multichannel strategies for their supply chains, including direct-to-consumer, wholesale, owned brick and mortar locations, third-party distributors,
e-commerce and more,” he says. “Businesses that have the talent and flexibility to execute multi-channel strategies faster than their peers will be the winners of the next platform of commerce.”

Next up was Bob Chiesa, president of Custom Benefits Insurance Group, who spoke about the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act and what it means for retailers and others in the home improvement industry. He gave out more information about employer mandates, taxes and fees, and he also presented information about the NRHA Health Care Program.

Chiesa outlined the new mandates, including the risk adjustment fee that went into effect Jan. 1 that was designed to support the Federal Risk Adjustment Program, which distributes the risk across the individual and group insurance providers at $1 per member per year.

One way for employers to help offset the additional costs of these new mandates is to offer two plans, a base plan and a buy-up option in which participating employees pays a premium.

Other speakers included Pat Murphy, vice president of mobile relationship management with FunMobility, who moderated a panel that included independent retailers who had found success with mobile to drive their businesses, and David Crowe, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), who talked about the current state of the housing market. He discussed the current attitude of consumers, their attitudes toward buying vs. renting, what’s caused the gradual recovery the housing market is now seeing and what to expect in the future.

Crowe says with house prices rebounding and above their boom peaks in about 10 states, foreclosures trending down and housing affordability remaining good, significant pent-up demand has mounted over the past five years as households delayed moves.

“These trends portend a strengthening economy and housing market in 2014,” Crowe said. “The NAHB forecast calls for an 18-percent increase in total housing starts in 2014 to a level of 1.1 million for the year.”

Specialty Areas

While the NRHA Village Stage stayed busy with a full schedule of speakers, there was plenty going on across the show floor, too, including several specialty areas that drew in plenty of attendees.

The product review and vetting area offered manufacturers a chance to drop off their products to be reviewed by some of the industry’s leading buyers, who provided the manufacturers with feedback about how they might best be able to move these products into the marketplace.

“The product vetting program is a great opportunity for the PRO Group merchandising team to review new products for our member distributors and PRO hardware retailers,” says Brendan Sullivan, director of merchandising for PRO Group. “The time we save having these new items and vendors in a centralized location allows our team more time to work the Hardware Show floor and meet with existing manufacturer partners and prospective companies. PRO has supported this program since the very beginning, and we’re looking forward to another successful event.”

“The National Hardware Show has always been an important event that brings retail, wholesale and manufacturing together at one venue to find solutions to the strategic aspirations of your particular company,” says Pete Principe, Ace Hardware’s Global Merchandise Manager—Plumbing & Electrical. “Programs like the product vetting room have value because they allow the merchants an opportunity to see important products that could have been missed and manufacturers an audience they may have missed. ”

“The new product vetting program provides a great opportunity for our members’ entire buying group to preview new merchandise as its being introduced to our industry, in one location,” says Dave Christmas, president and CEO of Distribution America. “One of the challenges to bring new items to market in our channel is the time it takes to make the right connections. The vetting program can shorten the process by facilitating those connections, providing manufacturers the chance to obtain immediate feedback from leading buying influencers.”

Participating buyers include SkyMall, Distribution America, PRO Group, Lancaster, Sears, Val-Test and Ace Hardware.

A new category this year is Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery. As advances in technology make it easier to warn residents about storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and more, it’s created a niche for retailers who sell supplies geared toward both preparation and recovery.

Products in this category, which is sponsored by Voxx Accessories Corp. and Champ and located in the Central Hall, include flashlights, generators, medical kits, water pumps, safety, solar products and more.

One company that had their emergency preparedness products on display was UST Brands. One of their most popular products includes a 30-day lantern, which is unbreakable, compact and easy to store or hang wherever light is needed.

“We’ve been in the business a long time, and it’s great to see the industry getting more involved in the Emergency Preparedness category and even featuring it at the show this year,” says Jeana White, EVP, new business development with UST Brands. “We’re showcasing some of our best items at the show. Whether it’s a home, auto or travel emergency, we have plenty of products for all emergency preparedness needs. It’s a broadening category, and we’re helping make sure people are safe in everything they do.”

It was busy outside in the Silver Parking Lot, too, as exhibitors in the Outdoors, Tailgate and Recreation area enjoyed the nice weather and showed off coolers, grills and more.

“This is my fifth year at the show,” says Rob Day, marketing manager for The Fulham Group, which markets Cuisinart portable grills and smokers. “This show is important to our business, because it gives us a chance to building relationships with our buyers. We’ve finished meetings with them, and they are coming to the point when they’ll be making a decision about which products to carry. This is one more chance for them to put a face with a name.”

Kwik Tek is back at the show after a few years away. “We came back because we have several products in the pool and relaxation category,” says Jeff Turner, sales manager with Kwik Tek. “We knew this was the best way to connect with buyers and retailers.”

As always, the paint and accessories area was a popular one at the show, with exhibitors excited to show off new products and make new connections. The Paint & Decorating Retailers Association (PDRA) and Lancaster have teamed up with the National Hardware Show to present this category, which is the single-largest buying show for this category in the United States.

“We’ve been attending the National Hardware Show for more than 20 years,” says Bob Shaw, vice president, sales and marketing, Handcrafted Painting Tools. “They do a great job of running this show and making it better and better each year. We’re excited to introduce some of our new products and meet with our buyers and other contacts we may only see once or twice a year.”

Awards Ceremonies

On Monday evening, NRHA recognized its 2014 Young Retailer of the Year winners:

  • James Coté, owner/manager of Osterville House & Garden, Osterville, Mass. (Under $2 Million in Annual Sales)
  • Blake Burgess, partial owner/general manager of York Ace Hardware, York, Neb. (Under $2 Million in Annual Sales)
  • Lee Rector, Thomas Home Center True Value, McKinleyville, Calif. (Under $2 Million in Annual Sales)
  • Zach Coblentz, outdoor power equipment division manager for Hartville Hardware, Hartville, Ohio (Over $2 Million in Annual Sales)
  • Trevor Kowalchuk, dealer/owner of Brandon Home Hardware Building Centre, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada (Over $2 Million in Annual Sales)
  • Dana Sneade Banyasz, director of operations, Sneade’s Ace Home Center, Owings, Md. (Multiple Stores)
  • Adra Kennard, president of Kennard Ace Hardware, Newberry, Fla. (Multiple Stores)
  • Brian Morgan, manager of The T.H. Rogers Lumber Co., Siloam Springs, Ark. (Multiple Stores)


“The Young Retailer of the Year event is one of the most inspiring events of the year,” says Bill Lee, president and CEO of NRHA. “It’s an evening filled with honor and excited as these young progressive entrepreneurs share their visions for shaping the industry.”

“Young Retailer of the Year is a great, tremendous event to celebrate some of the young retailers in the home improvement industry,” says Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show.

The ceremony included videos of the honorees’ stories and speeches by the honorees, who thanked their families, suppliers and colleagues for their support.

“I’ve surrounded myself with good people and gotten lots of good advice,” says Burgess. “Retail’s not that hard when you have good people and good advice.”

The recognition continued today with the Packaging and Merchandising Awards, which were presented to manufacturers whose products represented the industry’s best in packaging and merchandising. Attendees also got to hear a summary of the judges’ commentary and more about emerging packaging trends.

“The Packaging and Merchandising Awards offer manufacturers an opportunity for feedback on how to sell their products and make sure customers get the information they need about those products on the packages,” says Allison DeWitt, NRHA’s director of member services. “The National Hardware Show is the perfect place for retailers and manufacturers to meet and further discuss packaging and merchandising methods.”

The 30th annual Golden Hammer awards, presented by Home Channel News magazine, were also presented today, honoring the industry’s movers and shakers from across all channels.

Ron Beal, president and CEO of Memphis-based Orgill, was inducted into the Home Channel Hall of Fame. Also honored was Stine Home & Yard, of Sulphur, La., this year’s Golden Hammer Retailer of the Year.

Additionally, Hipp Modern Builders Supply of Mountain View, Ark., a fourth-generation family business in the Ozark foothills, was named the 2014 Tools of the Trade Award winner by Home Channel News.

Beal joined previous Golden Hammer Hall of Fame honorees Ray Griffith, Ace Hardware CEO (2013); Bob Taylor, Do it Best Corp. CEO (2012); Larry Stone of Lowe’s Cos. (2011) and Patt Farrah, a co-founder of The Home Depot (2010).

“This year’s Golden Hammer Award ceremony had a great location, a prime time slot and three well-respected industry leaders on tap,” says Ken Clark, editor of Home Channel News. “It was a great opening-night event for the National Hardware Show.”

About the National Hardware Show
The National Hardware Show celebrates a rich history spanning 69 years of serving the home improvement marketplace. From its early beginnings in New York during the post-World War II housing boom and eventual move to Chicago in the 1970s, to today’s current location in Las Vegas, the National Hardware Show continually evolves through the industry’s involvement, commitment and passion to improving America’s quality of life through their homes. Today, the National Hardware Show is the place for global manufacturers, associations, organizations and the media to unveil their new products, ideas and insight to a broad spectrum of home improvement resellers. For more information on the National Hardware Show, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com.

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