Q&A with Chris Kempa

Chris Kempa is chief executive officer
of True Value Company.
  1. What major initiatives are on tap for True Value for the remainder of 2023?

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we are really looking ahead to the next 75 years and beyond. Our customers and their stores are cornerstones of their communities, and our mission is to provide support and infrastructure to let them run their business exactly how they see fit.

In 2023, this means two major focus areas: first, continuously improving all aspects of doing business with True Value and second, helping our stores reconnect with their customers.

These initiatives are at the core of what we have been doing best for more than seven decades – letting the independent hardware store flourish. That starts with ensuring busy store owners and community leaders can access in-demand products when they need them, in the quantities they need them. This also means our customers have access to industry-leading support, care and guidance for any issue they experience. We’ve been making significant investments in our operations to ensure we’re perfecting that process for every interaction a customer has with True Value, and we will continue to prioritize these efforts.

On the other side of that equation, our stores are in the thick of the larger economic landscape. As retailers of all sizes and across all industries navigate this shared challenge, and as post-pandemic consumer sales decline, we’re focused on helping our customers reconnect with their shoppers in meaningful ways.

It is time for store owners to rethink how they’ve approached their business for the past three years, as, once again, consumer retail has changed. This looks like taking our core offerings to the next level to help our retailers run their business more efficiently and to maximize their growth. Think improved marketing programs, competitive product selection and strong vendor relationships, and the most flexibility in the industry to order what you need.

At the end of the day, it all ties back to prioritizing an exceptional experience for the independent hardware store owner that allows them to easily run a successful business exactly how they want, backed by a legacy brand. On that note, earlier this year, we also shared our commitment to moving the True Value brand forward in exciting, meaningful ways, and we can’t wait to share more about that effort.

  1. True Value has completed several acquisitions since last year such as Yenkin-Majestic paints, Agway and Nova Wildcat Shur-Line. How have these deals worked out so far, are you still in acquisition mode and if so, what are the most important elements you consider before making an acquisition?

Our recent acquisitions have truly exceeded our expectations and only continue to accelerate the collective growth of True Value and our stores. Hands down, the most important element for us when considering these acquisitions or any other business move, is “Is it good for our customers?” We make these acquisitions to better support our customers, who in turn, can better serve their communities.

These acquisitions give our independent stores the ability to continue expanding the products they offer and allow them to be flexible and competitive. We have a strong pipeline to continue building our portfolio and can’t wait to share more.

  1. In what ways are you honoring and celebrating True Value’s 75th anniversary this year? Looking back on the company’s history, what stands out?

As I mentioned, we’re having all sorts of fun to commemorate this milestone, but really this celebration is all about the independent hardware stores we support. We are spending this year showcasing what makes True Value unique and honoring the legacy of the True Value name, including major celebrations at our markets and highlighting our stores and their local impact.

It is remarkable to me to look back on how much True Value Company has grown, from 25 stores to 4,500. We launched our own manufacturing facility, opened and now operate 13 distribution centers, and serve 60 countries.

What truly stands out to me, though, is just how much True Value stores mean to their communities. True Value has been here for 75 years because of our and our retailers’ belief and investment in operating independent hardware stores that know their community best. We have heard time and time again how much it matters to shoppers to see a trusted name on the front of the building.

Our stores are friendly, knowledgeable places with trusted staff who give customers personal, expert service. In the age of giant big-box stores, and pages and pages of online shopping, the value of walking into a neighborhood store is not lost on the customer. That is what we’re really celebrating this year. We are loving the trip down memory lane while looking ahead to make the next 75 years even better.

Continue Reading in the July/August 2023 Issue

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