May 04, 2016

Norwalk, CT (May 4, 2016)—The National Hardware Show® kicked off today at the Las Vegas Convention Center, bringing together thousands of attendees and exhibitors from across the home improvement industry to see new products, network, attend educational seminars and much more.

Attendees had new innovations, new products and new vendors to draw them onto the Show floor, Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show, told the crowd at the opening ceremony.

New products and new ideas were top priorities to Greg Schlecht, owner of Greg’s True Value in St. Francis, Wisconsin.

“It’s always refreshing to see the new items that are on the market,” he says.

A New Experience

This year, the Show had a few changes, including a return to the 2014 layout that uses the North and Central halls, allowing for a more convenient Show experience. The Show also runs Wednesday through Friday (instead of Tuesday through Thursday, as has in past years).

This year, the Show offers coffee and refreshments in the morning, allowing attendees to have some breakfast while they plan their day or talk with other retailers. A free breakfast will be offered Thursday morning at the Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ shuttle bus drop-off area. Each afternoon, a happy hour opens in the main lobby between the Central and North Halls and near the shuttle pickup.

Independent retailers can pick up a Show guide on site that showcases more than 1,000 exhibitors selling to independent retailers. If you didn’t get one today, make sure to do so tomorrow. Attendees can also get a list of recommended exhibitors by stopping by one of the Match Me information kiosks (located in the main lobby and at the entrances to the North and Central halls) and answering a few quick questions.

If you have questions about what time an event takes place or where a certain booth is located, the National Hardware Show can help. An information line is available to help you get all your Show-related questions answered. Just call 702-943-3500, text 203-613-0063 or email


The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) All-Industry Conference is co-located with the National Hardware Show, and today, a variety of speakers took to the NRHA Village Stage to provide industry-related information and advice about leadership, exceeding customers’ expectations, the importance of mobile technology and more.

First on the Stage was Donna Embry, chief payments advisor with Payment Alliance International. Embry discussed new mobile payment trends and what retailers need to do to meet the expectations of today’s omnichannel buyer.

“It’s important that you create a more engaged environment for consumers. You have to do retailing at the speed of life and one way is by making it easier for consumers to pay,” Embry says. “The experience is the new value driver we need to keep in mind. It’s important to keep them engaged and keep them coming back.”

Next up was keynote speaker Charles Fishman, who talked about the history of Walmart, how the company is changing and what those changes can affect Walmart’s competitors.

“Sam Walton had employees visit competitors’ stores each week and report what they saw. But they could only report positive things because he didn’t want to know what they were doing poorly,” Fishman says. “He wanted to know what they were doing smartly. He certainly wasn’t above ideas and strategies that competitors were employing, which is the most important idea you can steal from Sam Walton. The way to be an excellent retailer is to visit your competitors. Visit Lowe’s and Home Depot. Visit an Apple or REI store and think how they would sell what you sell.”

This afternoon, Jim Robisch, senior partner with The Farnsworth Group, talked about how customers’ expectations have changed and what retailers can do to ensure they are meeting those new expectations. Even with a stable market, the things customers want continue to change, and Robisch reminded retailers to be aware of how they can continue to meet customers’ needs.

Next, Pat Murphy, vice president at Mobinar, talked about the importance of mobile-friendly retail experiences and how retailers must embrace technology to continue to connect with millennials.

“You have to find platforms to reach mobile audiences on their level. You have to go where they are,” Murphy says.

Michael Switzer, partner in Goldberg Segalla LLP, a law firm that works with Member Insurance Agency, spoke about cyber security. He spoke about data breach and cyber liability, coverage for data breach liability and how retailers can protect their businesses from closing if they have customer data compromised.

Featured Areas

If you didn’t get a chance today, make sure you make some time Thursday or Friday to visit the Featured Product Gallery, which is located in meeting room N101 across from Central Hall entrances.

Because new products are among the main reasons attendees go to the National Hardware Show, the Show team decided to combine multiple new product displays all in one place. Now, the Featured Product Gallery includes New Product World along with product displays from the Eco Friendly, Energy Efficient, Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery and Made in USA areas.

Just a few steps away, attendees will find Inventors Spotlight in room N109 and New Product Launch, located next to the NRHA Village Stage.

Greg Freuler, president of galaxG, introduced new ergonomic painting tools at the Show. He was looking for licensees and retailers to sell his products.

“I would obviously like to meet the right people in the industry in our product line, and make some good connections,” Freuler says.

Made in USA is once again a popular area, and along with product displays in the Featured Product Gallery, exhibitors showcasing American-made products can be found throughout the Show floor. On Thursday, the Made the USA Awards will be presented at 3 p.m. on the NRHA Village Stage.

Conrad Traut, representing inventor Greg Wiseman of Wisick, LLC, showcased American-made Gallery Magic, which is a magnetic picture-hanging system.

“We wanted to try to just do the right thing,” Traut says of producing the products in the U.S. “From just an ethical standpoint, we want to focus on American jobs and American quality.”

Exhibitor Opportunities

For exhibitors working on new products, the National Hardware Show offers several ways for them to gain exposure or receive feedback about their projects.

The first is the Product Review and Vetting Program, which allows exhibitors to have their products reviewed and vetted by buyers from some of the industry’s biggest distributors and buying groups.

While the program helps exhibitors get feedback on their products, it is also helpful to distributors and buying groups wanting to learn what is new to the market, says Shari Kalbach, managing director of PRO Group.

“It definitely helps our merchandising managers see what’s new and different,” Kalbach says. “We can see what new products are out there and learn more about the current trends. For example, we see a lot of lawn and garden products that give us some good ideas about color trends.”

Tom Ketelhut, department merchandising manager of merchandising operations for Ace Hardware Corp., says new products are an important part of Ace’s assortment strategy.

“The merchant team utilizes a number of venues to seek out, discover and build plans around items that can refresh our mix,” Ketelhut says. “Reviewing products in multiple areas is vital to the Ace team when attending an event the scale of the National Hardware Show.”

Dave Christmas, president and CEO of Distribution America, says offering this program at a set time, in a central location, allows buying teams from the group’s member companies the opportunity to thoroughly review the products.

“New product vendors have a great opportunity to get their product in front of key decision makers in the industry in one place, and they can’t get that kind of exposure in such a short time anywhere else,” Christmas says. “The program also gives our buyers the opportunity to think outside the box and explore potential new niches and update merchandise selections, which is important for the success of the independent retailers we serve.”

Here are a few other ways exhibitors have been able to get their products noticed at the Show, or learn more about creating their products:

  • Buyers from other groups are also participating in the Presidents Council Buying Days, looking for new and innovative products in the Hardware & Tools and Lawn and Garden categories.
  • The DIY Network is at the Show to film a special National Hardware Show episode of its TV show, “I Want That,” which will air this summer.
  • The Pitch the Experts panels are being offered exclusively for companies exhibiting in Inventors Spotlight.
  • TV shopping network QVC was in Inventors Spotlight today to do the QVC Sprouts Product Search, where the company looks for the opportunity to turn small ideas into big products.
  • The Grommet, a product launch platform that discovers innovative consumer products and has launched more than 2,000 products in 16 categories since 2008, is hosting a panel to hear pitches from exhibitors.
  • The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has a booth in Inventors Spotlight with representatives to meet with exhibitors who want to learn more about the process of applying for patents.

Awards Ceremonies

Another highlight of the National Hardware Show is the opportunity to see some innovative, hard working members of the industry be recognized for their efforts.

On Tuesday evening, NRHA recognized its 2016 Young Retailer of the Year honorees:

Under $2 Million in Annual Sales

  • Travis Hellvig – operations manager, Hartford Building Center, Hartford, South Dakota

Over $2 Million in Annual Sales

  • Marc Currie – president, Niece Lumber, Lambertville, New Jersey
  • Richard Lukowiak – general manager, Johns Creek Ace Hardware, Johns Creek, Georgia
  • Kyle Martinez – owner/president, Interstate Building Materials, Many, Louisiana
  • Jared Sawyer – owner/manager, Sawyer’s True Value, The Dalles, Oregon

Multiple Stores

  • Christian Herrick – CEO, Randy’s Do it Best Hardware, Timberville, Virginia
  • Dan Moulton – dealer-owner, Alliston Home Hardware Building Centre and Hanover Home Hardware Building Centre, Alliston, Ontario and Hanover, Ontario
  • Aimee Nichols – business owner and manager, Berger Hardware, Hawthorne and Port Chester, New York

Each of the honorees spoke after accepting their awards during a ceremony Tuesday night, repeatedly acknowledging the privilege of getting to know the other outstanding recipients.

“It’s been really cool to hear where other people have come from and why they’re here,” Travis Hellvig of Hartford Building Center in South Dakota.

Christian Herrick of Randy’s Do it Best Hardware in Virginia echoed the sentiment, saying that fellow independent home improvement retailers aren’t competitors and need to support each other.

“We’re one of the last holdouts in the independent retail world,” Herrick says.

The recognition continued today with the Packaging and Merchandising Awards, which recognize the development of innovative packaging and merchandising. Attendees heard a summary of the judges’ comments and more about emerging packaging trends.

“This year, we had some excellent entrants into the program who offered clear, concise packaging along with bright graphics,” says Sara Logel, market research analyst at NRHA. “Some of the merchandising aids we saw were very impactful in not only providing shoppers additional information but also in grabbing their attention.”

Celebrity Sightings

There were several familiar faces at the Show, as celebrities spent some time at different booths.

DIY expert Bob Vila was at the Show today and will be here again from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the premiere of his new line of products with Viatek Consumer Products Group, located at booth #4124 in the Central Hall.

Actress, model and race car driver Brandy Flores is at the booth for Excalibur Cleaning Supplies (booth #7545, Central Hall), as is actor Lorenzo Lamas. Stop by for photos and autographs from the two stars.

Mark Portney of the hit TV show “All American Makers” is available at the QuickFire booth (booth #OUTDOOR820, Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ).

From 10 a.m. to noon tomorrow, Wet & Forget (booth #5221, Central Hall) will be hosting James and Morris Carey of “On The House with The Carey Brothers.” The brothers will be hosting their radio show there during this time. Gary Sullivan of “At Home with Gary Sullivan” will be at the booth to broadcast his show from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that same day.

The DIY Network has brought along Sara Bendrick from the DIY Network’s “I Hate My Yard,” who was at the NHS Chill Out Zone Trailer this afternoon, during the Retailer Happy Hour. Peyton Lambton from HGTV’s “Going Yard” will be there during the Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ Party from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Show continues through Friday, May 6, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

About the National Hardware Show®

The National Hardware Show celebrates a rich history spanning 71 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 share new products, ideas and insight with a broad spectrum of home improvement resellers. For more information on the National Hardware Show, visit

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