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Welcome To The Family

My fiancée left me on Saturday!

Before I start getting letters from the countless women out there who can’t resist a balding and ageing paint-geek, I should mention that she’ll be back soon! She left me to join her extended family on a five-day cruise.

As she was about to leave we had our big “goodbye” moment. Girls are the dramatic gender so I knew that a high-five and “see you in a week” was not going to cut it.

Reflective of the weight of the moment, I put my cigar down!

Hugging me, she asked: “Are you going to make the bed while I’m gone?”

Caught off-guard by the housekeeping question, I did what eons of evolution has taught men to do when faced with an inquisitive woman: I lied!

But the guilt of that lie is wracking me so I’ve been making the bed.

I hate it when she outsmarts me!

Boats are REALLY not my thing though and so I stayed home. It’s a shame because it would have been a great opportunity to get to know better some people who are important in my life.

I have been thinking a lot lately about getting to know new people in my life.

Last week, Benjamin Moore announced their new distribution agreement with Ace. Since that announcement, I have spoken to dozens of dealers and heard from 100+ more, via email and the assorted sites I use to post these blogs. Of course there were some dealers upset by this news: I would have been surprised if there weren’t! But generally speaking, I find Benjamin Moore dealers overwhelmingly in support of this agreement.

As I shared in my last post, I fall with the majority on this one: I agree that this was a good decision for both Benjamin Moore and their dealers.

But that still leaves me wondering about all these new people in my life: Ace Dealers.

In my last column, I introduced you to Santi. Santi owns the Ace dealership down the street from my main store in the Bronx. But of course, Santi isn’t the only Ace dealer.

Founded in the 1920’s, Ace Hardware is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative, with more than 5,200 independently owned stores worldwide. About 4500 of those stores are in the United States. There are 2700 Ace dealers domestically operating those 4500 stores. With the exception of 123 company owned stores, independent retailers own ALL Ace hardware stores.

For those familiar with AllPro, they’re kind of like an Allpro…. only for hardware!

There are 2089 Ace dealers with a single store, which leaves about 600 dealers to own the remaining 2400 (ish) domestic stores. The largest Ace dealer has 46 stores, so it’s fair to say that Ace is dominated by dealers who own individual stores and small chains.

There are about 4200 Benjamin Moore (only) stores from about 2400 dealers. It's hard to ignore the similarities between the two dealer networks.

Ace as a group reported total revenue of $5.7 billion in 2018, which is up from $3.8 billion in 2012: 50% in six short years. Impressive! So impressive in-fact that it leaves me thinking that Benjamin Moore and their dealers may have a thing or two that we can learn from our newest “brothers and sisters in-arms!”

Here are some other facts about Ace that I thought were interesting:

  • In 2018, Ace tied for the top position in the retail category in the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings. In addition, Ace was ranked No. 7 overall across all industries

  • In 2018, Ace ranked No. 1 in its category on Entrepreneur magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500® list

  • In 2018, Ace ranked No. 6 on the Franchise Times Top 200, the annual list of largest U.S. franchises by worldwide sales

  • Ace Hardware ranked No. 8 on the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces of 2018

  • Ace ranked No. 27 in STORES Magazine’s Top Retailers 2018 list

Ace operates in what they call the “convenience hardware” segment: a $50 billion per year channel. The $13 billion in revenue that the Ace retailers generate gives Ace a 26% share of the domestic market.

Over 80% of all this volume that Ace does goes through its 14 warehouses around the United States. Want to take a guess at what’s the # 1 category to come out of those warehouses? You guessed it, PAINT! Paint has been the # 1 category out of the Ace Warehouses for each of the last three years, representing 20% of the total volume over that time.

Now I clearly understand why Benjamin Moore pursued this agreement. Though Ace is much bigger than Benjamin Moore, the parallels between the two dealer networks are stunning. As are the volume opportunities in a completely different segment.

I hope that we will see some collaboration between these two vendors. It should benefit us all.

Remember my blog from Tuesday about the toilet paper holders in my house? You can read it here. I KNEW that my daughter would never get it! Take a look at the pics below! Buck Wheat…..your Padj knows you!!!

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