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My Old Kentucky Home

Updated: May 9

Last week the Kentucky Derby proved faithful to its sobriquet when the race ended in three-way photo finish for the first time in its 150-year history.

And despite my efforts at immersion, technology failed to replicate THE experience of watching the Derby trackside. Perhaps explaining why attending a Kentucky Derby remains near the top of many American’s bucket lists?

On race day Kentuckians celebrate both horses and bourbon in a series of traditions leading up to the race, with the most sacred of those traditions reserved for the event’s Grand Marshall: the announcement of “Riders Up!”

THE very root of Kentucky culture!

This year’s Grand Marshall was television personality Martha Stewart, a woman for whom I hold little regard since her efforts in 2007 to trademark the name Katonah–the New York hamlet we both lived in at that time–thus barring the name from being used by locally owned businesses such as Katonah Paint and Hardware.

Though despite the enmity, I admit to still employing Martha’s method for folding fitted sheets!

THE selection of Stewart was confounding. THE lifestyle diva has no known connection to Kentucky beyond her attendance of the race and in-fact is notably connected in the minds of her fans to another state in the union: Connecticut.

It was while restoring a Westport Connecticut farmhouse in 1976 when Martha Stewart first found her style, far away from the bluegrass fields of Kentucky.

With the success of Stewart’s Westport Style Martha moved to a toney estate in Katonah, New York before being forced to move back to Connecticut.

By the United States government!

As prisoner # 55170-054 Stewart served five-months in the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut after having been found guilty of insider trading.

Which makes THE selection of Stewart as Grand Marshall the carpetbagger’s choice, and an honor best reserved for a son or daughter of Kentucky!   

And it seems Karma agrees.

As pride rose in the hearts of Kentuckians in the moments before the race, Grand Marshall Martha Stewart was asked to the perform the convocation’s last rite: invoke the riders to mount their steeds with a call of “riders up.”

Stewart began by welcoming racing fans from around the world to the city of Louisville; though it was clear from her pronunciation that it was her first visit to the city. 

Before exhorting the riders to mount Stewart had one job remaining: mention the state at the center of it all. 

Somebody should have told Martha, it’s not Connecticut!

Ask Sherwin-Williams

Independent paint retailers I spoke with last week shared that sales year-to-date are up compared to the same period last year–though not significantly. 

THE middling outcomes though were still better than results at Sherwin-Williams where newly installed chief executive Heidi G. Petz announced a 1.4 percent decrease in sales despite ongoing price increases. 

Sales in the Paint Stores Group were up slightly during the quarter though the increase was “driven by a modest contribution from our February price increase” according to Petz who also added that the results reflected “above market growth” in the important to independents and #DanCalkins residential repaint market segment.

THE Opportunists

In the aftermath of Kelly-Moore’s closing, independent paint retailers and manufactures alike sought to capitalize on THE once-in-a generation opportunity and grab their share of Kelly’s $300+ million in annual revenue.

An effort which is still ongoing.

But in the immediate aftermath of the event three manufacturers wanted to do more than just grab share.  Recognizing the rarity of the opportunity, each decided to transform their businesses to allow them to maximize their take, moving quickly to acquire assets Kelly-Moore abandoned: their people and locations. 

And revenue!

After a respite planned for this month’s final half, I’ll release a new podcast series in my ongoing coverage of the events at Kelly-Moore.  THE Opportunists will feature a leading executive from each of these three paint companies and will give THE trio an opportunity to share the vision and force necessary to take on such tasks.  

Having recorded two of the three episodes already, I’m confident you’ll find THE series compelling.

Riders Up!




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