True Value Company announced on April 20 that John Hartmann, who has served as chief executive officer since 2013 and led the company through its transition from a cooperative, will be leaving in May.
Hartmann, who will remain on True Value’s board of directors, will be replaced as CEO by the company’s current chief commercial officer Chris Kempa, while Deb O’Connor, the current chief financial officer, will become president and CFO.
“It has been my highest honor to serve the independent hardware retailer alongside the greatest support associates in the industry,” Hartmann says. “I am proud of the relationships we have built and nurtured with our members, customers and vendor partners. I am equally proud of the relationship we have built with our financial partner, ACON Investments.”
ACON Investments acquired a majority stake in the company two years ago when True Value transitioned from a traditional dealer-owned co-op model.
“Over the last two years, we’ve accelerated investments in the business including the modernization of our supply chain, doubling the size of our sales force, implementing hyper-localized marketing and improving pricing across the best product assortment in the industry,” Hartmann says.
Kempa, who has been with True Value since 2019, previously served as CEO and group president of safety and tool product distributor ORS Medco and as an officer with Grainger with responsibility for its international business. O’Connor, who has been with True Value for five years, previously worked with OfficeMax, where she served as senior vice president of integration and finance, playing a critical role in the OfficeMax/Office Depot merger.
“There is still tremendous opportunity to be captured as we continue to find new ways to better serve the independent hardware retailers which anchor America’s communities,” Hartmann says. “I am confident that Chris and Deb are extraordinarily qualified to accomplish this, and I am thrilled to continue serving as a member of the board to support them in those efforts.”
“Chris has a long track record of successfully leading businesses in this channel and has rapidly implemented and executed an integrated merchandising, sales and pricing go-to-market strategy at True Value,” says Aron Schwartz, chairman of the True Value board of managers. “Deb has been with the company for five years and has been an instrumental leader in transforming the business and accelerating investments to further support all independent hardware retailers.”