Enthusiasm and Excitement Mark First Day of National Hardware Show®

(LAS VEGAS, May 8, 2018) — The National Hardware Show® began with a strong start today, as thousands of attendees and exhibitors gathered at the Las Vegas Convention Center to see and show off new products, hear from industry experts, network with others in the industry and much more.

The Show, which runs through Thursday, May 10, began with the presentation of colors by the American Legion Spirit of Freedom Post 76, and included the singing of the national anthem before the enthusiastic countdown to the opening of the Show.

“This year’s Show is all about new: from our logo and branding to 500+ new exhibitors,” says Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show. There are new experiences everywhere you turn, and new products to bring back to your stores.”

Retailers from all over the world were excited to gather in Las Vegas and see all the Show had to offer.

“It’s always nice to come to the Show and get the chance to network and to see new products,” says Adam Busscher, owner of Picton Home Hardware Building Centre in Picton, Ontario. “We’re looking for the latest and greatest products before our competitors can find them. This year, we’re looking at outdoor living products, such as smokers and upgraded outdoor kitchen areas. Outdoor living is huge in our area.”

Specialty Areas
Whether they were old favorites or new sights this year, there were plenty of specialty areas to check out across the National Hardware Show.

Inventors Spotlight
Want to find “the next big thing” in the home improvement industry? Check out Inventors Spotlight in N109 where you’ll find 200+ brand-new inventions and solutions for your consumers. Inventors in this area also have the opportunity to meet with buyers and potential investors.

“This is our first time at the National Hardware Show,” says Clint Bunch, president of Dropout Cabinet Fixtures. “We are hoping being in Inventors Spotlight can help us find some manufacturing help instead of doing everything locally.”

Product Review & Vetting
Product Review & Vetting offers those with a new product to get that product in front of a concentrated audience, featuring some of the biggest distributors and wholesalers throughout the industry.

Participants dropped their products off earlier this week, and will be reviewed by representatives from the following companies:

  • 84 Lumber
  • Ace Hardware
  • Arett/NPS
  • Distribution America
  • Home Hardware
  • Jerry’s Home Improvement
  • Lancaster
  • Mid-States Distributing Company
  • PRO Group
  • Sears
  • United Hardware
  • Val-Test
  • Wakefarm
  • Westlake

“Product Review & Vetting gives PRO Group merchandise managers an opportunity to see what new and exciting products are out there that we can introduce to our distributor members and retailers,” says Shari Kalbach, vice president of PRO Group.

Dave Christmas, president and CEO of Distribution America, says the program provides a great opportunity for their members’ entire buying group to preview new merchandise.

“The central, private location affords our group the opportunity to collaboratively identify and discuss products that may be right for our retailers,” he says. “The vendors will receive almost immediate feedback from buyers, providing a unique opportunity to further refine their marketing plans.”

International Sourcing
International Sourcing really represents how the National Hardware Show draws people from all over the world. This area includes exhibitors from China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Taiwan and Pakistan.

It’s a great opportunity for attendees to get some face-to-face meeting time with exhibitors who they may not otherwise get to meet in person. Exhibitors cover a variety of categories, including Building Products, Plumbing & Electrical, Paint & Accessories, and more.

Attendees can also find other international exhibitors throughout the Show floor.

Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ
Due to increased popularity, this area of the Show has continued to grow each year. Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ, located in the Silver Parking Lot, offers attendees the perfect opportunity to experience products in a more interactive way than they might on the Show floor. The area includes food, games, music and networking opportunities, as well as the chance to experience new products.

“Traeger is a lifestyle brand that happens to sell barbecues,” says Luke Edgar, vice president of specialty sales for Traeger. “We spend a lot of time at this Show building relationships and showing off our brand.”

There are also a number of events and awards ceremonies taking place in this area. Be sure to take some time to head outdoors and experience all that the area has to offer.

The Ultimate Backyard 
This brand-new area, outside in the Silver Lot, offers a chance for attendees to find the latest and greatest outdoor living products in their natural environment: outdoors!

Fiberbuilt Umbrellas was one exhibitor in this area of the Show. “I like The Ultimate Backyard,” says Paul Knapp, president of Fiberbuilt Umbrellas. “I’ve come to the Show for years and always came out to the tailgate area, but I had to head back inside to see the outdoor accessories. This area brings everything together in one place.” The Ultimate Backyard is sponsored by Adams Manufacturing. Other can’t-miss vendors include:

  • Better Life Technology
  • Blue Orange Pottery
  • Bug Elimination & Prevention Co.
  • Classic Accessories
  • Canadian Spa Company
  • Coolbox Cooler
  • Dometic Corp
  • Fiberbuilt
  • Garden Weasel
  • Global Outdoor Concepts
  • GoSun
  • Great Scrape
  • Husqvarna Professional Products
  • La Crosse Technology
  • Lifetime Products
  • Naturae Décor
  • Pawleys Island Hammocks
  • Portacool
  • Real Flame Fireplaces
  • SnapLock Industries
  • SYNLawn
  • Tarter Farm and Ranch
  • The Boltze Group/ Ember Grills
  • Toy State
  • Official Bar Sponsor: Traeger Grills
  • Official Truck Sponsor: Nissan Commercial Vehicles

Operation Tiny Home
The National Hardware Show has partnered with Operation Tiny Home to show off the latest trends in tiny and container home construction and raise awareness about housing instability across the country.

Zack Giffin, co-host of “Tiny Home Nation,” teamed up with local veterans to teach them valuable woodworking and construction skills as they completed a furniture-making workshop. The furniture will be used in a tiny home that’s available to tour in the Silver Parking Lot. It will later be donated to provide shelter to veterans in need.

“The workshops aren’t just about learning new skills,” says Gabrielle Rapport, founder and executive director of Operation Tiny Home. “It’s about community building and creating something together.”

Nearby was 2 x 4s for Hope, a nonprofit organization that works to build safe and secure shelters for veterans and those affected by natural disasters or who lack safe housing. Attendees could make a small donation and sign a message on a 2 x 4 that would later be used in one of the organization’s building projects.

Smart Home Virtual Reality Experience
As smart home products continue to become more and more popular, Show attendees can now learn more by visiting the Smart Home Virtual Reality Experience, located in the Central Lobby, offering a virtual reality tour of a fully equipped smart home.

Scott Bard of 84 Lumber gave the Smart Home experience a try. “It was the first time I’d tried something virtual reality like this,” he says. “It was really cool to see. I was able to walk through a living room and bedroom and look all through the house.”

Awards Ceremonies
Several awards programs throughout the week honor the best of the best in the industry. The awards kicked off last night when NRHA recognized eight Young Retailer of the Year honorees. These honorees are all 35 years old or younger and are recognized for their achievements in growing their businesses and continuing their hardware education, as well as their innovative work as they look to the future of the industry.

The 2018 Young Retailer of the Year honorees are:

Under $2 Million in Annual Sales

  • Ronna Kilts, Manager, Mattson’s True Value Hardware, Howard City, Michigan
  • Megan Zarbano, Owner, Handy Hardware & Rental, Valley City, North Dakota

Over $2 Million in Annual Sales

  • Sean Angelo, General Manager, Budget Home Supply, Longmont, Colorado
  • Taylor Baker, Owner, Foothills Hardware & Builders Supply, Pilot Mountain, North Carolina
  • Mike Wilson, General Manager & Dealer-Owner, Wilson’s Home Hardware Building Centre, Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia

Multiple Store Operations

  • Byron Clouse, Owner, Lewiston Ace Hardware, Lewiston, Michigan
  • Nate Ludwig, General Manager, Dazey’s Building Center, Garberville, California
  • Diana Newton, Vice President, Bay Hardware, Seal Beach, California

The awards ceremonies will continue tomorrow, with NRHA’s Top Guns, the National Hardware Show’s Reimagine Retail program and many more.

A slew of speakers gathered at the NRHA Village Stage today to talk about competing online, finding new products, business transitions and more. The speakers included two keynote presentations, one from Karen E Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, the stars of HGTV’s “Good Bones,” and another from Jules Pieri, CEO and co-founder of The Grommet.

First up was Andrea Ridout, whose presentation “Rooster Economics—Understanding Your Flock Can Help You Sell Your Business,” talked about how her company mascot, George the Rooster, helped her take a closer look at her business and build a nest egg.

“In my businesses, I learned that the most important thing is knowing your ’peeps,’” says Ridout. “As hardware store owners, those are your customers. And that’s where your focus needs to be.”

She also talked about the importance of being able to evolve and grow to continue to stay competitive with others in the industry.

“If you don’t change, if you don’t evolve, your competition will eat you up, or your customers will abandon you to start buying online,” she says. “You don’t need to be a visionary, but keep your eyes open. Sometimes the next big trend is right under your nose.”

The NRHA Young Retailer Panel gave attendees a chance to hear from past Young Retailer of the Year honorees, who shared some industry insights and offered advice on managing their small businesses.

“Stay focused on what you do well, then do that better,” says David Dishke, president of Grand River Home Hardware in Caledonia, Ontario. “Bring customers to your store, and once they’re there, figure out what else you can sell them.”

“When you put your personal touch on things, it becomes less monotonous and more than what’s simply between the four walls of the store,” says Joe Franquinha of Crest True Value and Urban Garden Center in New York. “Find things that help you separate yourself from the path.”

Next were Laine and Starsiak Hawk with their presentation, “Small Business Management: Turning a Hobby Into Something More.” The mother-duo daughter talked about how their hobby of rehabbing old homes turned into a business, and then “Good Bones,” a hit HGTV show. They also talked about using their roles as a way to promote other local businesses.

“Since we have a TV show, we get to feature so many cool companies, like artists, retailers and contractors,” says Starsiak Hawk, “so it’s great to give our local businesses a national platform and give them the recognition they deserve.”

Their presentation was followed by a meet-and-greet, giving attendees a chance to speak briefly one-on-one with the duo.

The afternoon kicked off with the Reimagine Retail Panel, presented by The National Hardware Show. Audience members had a chance to listen as the five finalists of this year’s program, which awards $100,000 to one lucky retailer, spoke about their ideas for how they would use the money to improve their business.

This year, Reimagine Retail focused on technology. Entrants were encouraged to consider how technology could streamline their inventory management systems, checkout process, marketing initiatives, e-commerce offerings and training programs. The finalists are:

  • The Color House, Wakefield, Rhode Island
  • Just Grillin Inc., Tampa, Florida
  • La Grange Park Ace Hardware, La Grange Park, Illinois
  • Weeks Home Hardware, Waterdown, Ontario
  • Woods Hardware, Cincinnati, Ohio

“Currently, technology doesn’t play a huge role in our business, but it needs to because that’s where the industry is heading,” says Sam Curtiss, who works in digital marketing at Just Grillin Inc. in Tampa, Florida. “We want to automate our store and make it a destination.”

“We really do believe that if you’re going to be successful in the future, you need to have brick-and-mortar and e-commerce,” says Ron Cicuttini, president of Weeks Home Hardware in Waterdown, Ontario. “You need to have both platforms; that’s the future.”

The winner will be announced tomorrow at 2 p.m. on the NRHA Village Stage.

Next up was Jim Robisch of The Farnsworth Group, with “Competing Online: Appealing to Multiple Consumer Generations and Pros.” Robisch addressed consumers’ online shopping habits and how expectations differ between generations and market segments.

The second keynote presentation of the day was from Jules Pieri, CEO and co-founder of The Grommet, a product discovery platform that helps its community and retailers learn about innovative and unique products. In “How to Discover the Next Big Thing,” Pieri discussed how the company discovers new products—many of which later become well-known household names.

“We can recognize very quickly if something is distinctive and interesting,” says Pieri. “Our promise is to discover what’s next.”

“There are many companies who are supporting the Maker community,” she says. “All the things these companies need to compete are being created in fresh and innovative ways.”

The final presentation of the day was from Daniel Duty, a former Target executive whose presentation, “Collaborating to Win: New Approaches to Retailer-Supplier Engagement,” addressed how to engage in collaborative forms of negotiation and plan successful strategic partnerships between retailers and their suppliers.

The National Hardware Show continues through Thursday, May 10. For more information, visit nationalhardwareshow.com.

About The National Hardware Show®

The National Hardware Show® celebrates a rich history spanning nearly 75 years of serving the home improvement marketplace. From its early beginnings in New York during the post-World War 2 housing boom and eventual move to Chicago in the 1970s, to today’s current location in Las Vegas, NHS continually evolves through the industry’s involvement, commitment and passion to improving America’s quality of life through their homes. Today, NHS is the place for global manufacturers, associations, organizations and the media to get an unfiltered view of the industry, hands-on experiences, and access to the latest innovations and retail trends to enhance their business.


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