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Premier Networking Event in the Industry

I’m pleased to be attending the 7th Global DIY Summit (June 5 – 7) in Dublin, Ireland. If you’re not familiar with this event, I highly recommend checking it out. I have attended several times in the past and have always found great value in the informative presentations and especially the networking. Each time that I’ve attended it has been bigger and better than the last. I’m very much looking forward to seeing some old industry friends from around the world and making new connections that will help benefit our membership.

The Global DIY Summit is the world’s major event where retailers and manufacturers from the home improvement and garden center industry have the opportunity for an exchange of views on current and future developments within the global market. This congress is being jointly hosted by the two leading European DIY professional organizations, EDRA (European DIY-Retail Association) and fediyma (European Federation of DIY Manufacturers), and the first global representation of interest of DIY trade, ghin (Global Home Improvement Network).

For more information, please visit: and I hope to see you there!

Steve Powell
President & CEO
Presidents Council
Mobile: 1-847-337-7909

We get you connected!

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Stress-less business travel – what I’ve learned traveling with other industry pros

One aspect of my job that seems to raise curiosity from a lot of people, is spending a week or more traveling closely with business contacts that I do not know very well on a personal level. This is often in a different city, state, or country, each day traveling from retailer office to retailer office, spending 12-18 hours a day together. Having done these trips several times each year for over 20 years, I have learned plenty about people in general, and even more about the people who make their living in our DIY/ Home Improvement Industry.

It usually happens on the second day together of any one of these trips with a supplier… the question… “Have you ever had to travel with someone with a bad attitude?”

The stress of an intense week or so of travel and pioneering new markets, often multiple time changes and jet lag, can understandably burn the patience of almost anyone.

The absolute first thing I am always very happy to explain is that I am very lucky to be working in this industry. Perhaps it’s because people may change jobs but usually stay in the industry and maintain relationships. For whatever reason, the overwhelming majority of people in Home Improvement are not afraid of working hard and they are usually polite, prompt and professional. Now, I’ve certainly had traveling companions that embody the “exception that proves the rule” but for the most part I’ve met great people, many of whom I can now call friends.

It’s not all by chance though. I’ve learned that the best tools to ensure a productive trip (even more so when you are in a different hotel every night) are experience and diligent planning to foresee and minimize or eliminate as many stressors as possible prior to departure.

Choosing hotels nearest to the next morning’s meeting is a big one. If we must get stuck in traffic or turned around, it’s best the night before while finding the hotel, not getting to the meetings. It’s also key to leave extra time for flights so that there is no need to rush a meeting with potential business in order to make a too tight flight schedule.

Another stressor is uncertainty. Letting people know our agenda, long before we depart – where we will be and when, and talking through any questions, can be very helpful here. I arrange all the hotels, flights, car rentals and I handle the driving so the supplier can focus on business.

It is also very important to be ready for the travel world to throw you a couple of curve balls and be able to laugh about them. While things like lost luggage are an inconvenience, it’s something that everyone can relate to… including buyers. If you have to show up in workout clothes to a meeting because it’s all you have that’s clean, it’s ok. Buyers will empathize. It’s a good ice breaker and a great excuse to be very comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I do pack an extra dress shirt in my carry-on for good measure, but sometimes it can take a few days to get your bag, especially when you’re on the move every day.

Securing orders also helps a lot. On that topic, we are fortunate and proud to have had over 75% of these suppliers secure new accounts as a result of these adventures over the last couple decades.

Of course, I’ve had a couple of traveling companions that stand out as, for the sake of political correctness, we’ll call them “less than ideal” to travel with. I’ve seen people blow up at restaurant wait staff, have an emotional breakdown in a sales meeting, refuse to help look for street signs in a car, try to go home mid-trip because they’re stressed, refuse to get on an airport shuttle (still don’t understand that one) and many more… but the reason these examples are memorable is because they are rare.

Whether it’s trying to catch an Uber in Chile, sorting out bad GPS directions in Ontario, getting stuck in traffic in Chicago, trying to find an open gas station after midnight in Germany or repacking a bag of samples for the 3rd time to make weight at the airport, my traveling companions have been great and I always look forward to the next adventure – helping the another supplier secure new business through our retail relationships.

This is the point where I get the second question… “So how am I doing so far”? See? Great people!

Best regards,
Steve Powell
President & CEO
Presidents Council

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How do I follow up without being a pest?

I’ve recently been asked some interesting questions regarding follow up with buyers by some of the approximately 75 new and innovative suppliers with us in Appleton, WI to meet their buyers from Fleet Farm. The initial feedback from both buyers and suppliers was very positive. A large number have taken the first step to becoming a valuable vendor to Fleet Farm by taking advantage of our Buying Day program to get face-to-face time with their responsible buyer. Now the suppliers and the buyers are heading back to daily routines and the urgent emails and phone calls begin to take your focus away from these new opportunities. Diligent follow up is critical to turn these interesting new meetings into important new customers and these suppliers need to find a way to stay top-of-mind with the buyer while keeping things moving in a positive direction.

This is an issue that most of us face after events where new opportunities present themselves. With that in mind, here are a few tips for navigating that line between persistence and being a pest in follow-up communications.

Give the buyer a couple days before the first email. The buyer is meeting a number of potential new suppliers during this day and the emails and voice mails are still coming in from his current suppliers. It might seem like a good idea to send off a quick email right away but you’ll have a better chance that he/she will give it due attention in a day or two once they have had a chance to catch up a bit.

Don’t be shy. Buyers are busy with their current suppliers and assortments. While every buyer is different, for the most part, it’s perfectly ok to follow up a couple times a week if done correctly. The vast majority of buyers appreciate follow-up and are not irritated by this… just don’t demand and don’t follow up every day.

Lead with what is important to the buyer. Know what motivates the buyer and communicate how you are providing a tool/solution to this rather than just asking for what you want. You should leave your initial meeting knowing what about your product or offer is intriguing to the buyer. Give some thought to why this is important to buyer the buyer and how you can help with his/her job. In addition to finding new and innovative products to offer their customers, most buyers are evaluated on the margin, turns and sales per sq. ft. of their assortment. Put yourself in the buyer’s place and speak to what you can do for him/her.

Be polite. Ask if they have everything they need and offer to help rather than just pushing for an answer. This seems like a given but it’s easy to get frustrated if/when communications go silent or another sort of log jam arises. Tone in email can be in the ear of the reader and therefore tricky to convey. Just make sure you re-read every email a couple times before sending and make sure you are communicating a tone that will encourage a thoughtful and positive response.

Recap the current status of the project without pointing fingers when inquiring about next steps. This gives the buyer a chance to own the process and request anything they might need to progress to the next step. This reminder will help the buyer remember the status without having to sift back through all your communications and is a gentle reminder of what you have already provided and your interest in continuing to move forward.

Keep the message part of your emails short and to 1 max 2 points. People tend to feel the need to respond or ignore email messages quickly and many skim if the message is wordy. Use attachments to communicate more involved information, they tend to lend themselves to more time intensive tasks.

• If you are not getting a reply to emails, use that telephone thing on your phone. Buyers get loads of emails every day. You have their direct line from their business card for a reason. While email is more appropriate for the initial follow-ups, you shouldn’t be shy about contacting him/her the way our ancestors did with an actual human voice.

Steve Powell, President & CEO, Presidents Council

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Where in the world is Steve?

Ontario this morning to meet with TSC Stores (not affiliated with Tractor Supply in the US). They operate 49 stores serving Canada’s farmers and rural markets.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Back in Toronto this morning to introduce our supplier from Russia to a few of the merchants at Home Depot. Home Depot Canada operates over 180 big boxes in this market with annual sales around $6 Bil USD.

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Where in the world is Steve?

I’m in sunny St. Jacob’s Ontario today for a couple meetings with Canada’s largest group of 1058 independent hardware dealers. Horse and buggy traffic included.

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Where in the world is Steve?

I got my dry cleaning back after my return from the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and threw it right back in my suitcase for Santiago, Chile for our Buying Day with Latin America’s leading DIY retailer SODIMAC.

Thanks to all the suppliers who made the journey with me and, from the looks of the buyers’ feedback, many of you are well on your way to securing an excellent new customer!

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Where in the world is Steve


Where in the world is Steve?

The streak continues… I have not missed a Hardware Fair (Eisenwarenmesse) in Cologne since my first in 1997. It remains the worlds largest DIY/Home Improvement Industry trade show and they industry show for the EUROPEAN market.
While the fair is every other year now, it continues to be an important meeting place for the industry and offers vendors from every corner of the world an opportunity to be seen by some of the worlds leading chain retailers as well as distributors and wholesalers from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.




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Where in the world is Steve?

Washington DC this weekend for a quick visit to the True Value Hardware Reunion (Spring Market). I found it to be well attended and very well organized for the dealers. Vendors have booths and there are several areas to showcase overall product assortment like the Assortment City which is a 35000 Ft store set within the show floor. Hint: this is where buyers can be found.

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The Storehouse of World Vision Support — UPDATE —



I had a chance to catch up with Jack Laverty from The Storehouse of World Vision last month during their annual Crystal Vision awards breakfast at the IBS/KBIS Show in Orlando.

Jack let me know that several of you made product donations helping with their efforts in disaster relief following the recent hurricanes.

To all of those that were able to donate products, we offer a sincere thank you! You have helped those in need and will be able to take advantage of a tax deduction on your donated overstock or otherwise excess inventory.  Please find a video of the Impact Story in Houston on our Facebook page HERE.

If you were not able to donate but have products that could help and would like to learn more about the process and benefits for donors, please contact Jack directly:

Jack Laverty
phone 253.229.8373
Mail Stop 442 : P.O. Box 9716 : Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 USA

Again, thank you for your generosity and continued support of The Storehouse of World Vision. We look forward to seeing you at a Presidents Council event in 2018!

Best regards,

Steve Powell



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True Value Buying Day on March 14, 2018

True Value Buying Day
on March 14, 2018.

Registration is OPEN NOW. Please register here:

True Value is the second largest retailer-owned cooperative in the home improvement industry and therewith one of the world’s largest. With 13 regional distribution centers serving 4500 stores in over 60 countries and approximately 2,500 True Value Associates, True Value’s retail sales in their communities total about $5.5 billion.

-> If you are not selling to True Value this is your opportunity to meet with them!

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Where in the world is Steve?

Steve and Curt drove to Toledo, OH today for another successful Buying Day with Bostwick-Braun.
Bostwick-Braun is one of the country’s largest full-service general-line distributors in the USA supplying over 1000 dealers in Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island reaching over $125 million at wholesales.

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NLBMDA honors Paul Hylbert with Chairman’s Award

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) honored Paul Hylbert (Presidents Council’s Advisory Board Chairman) with the Chairman’s Award for his contributions to the association and the lumber and building materials industry during the NLBMDA Installation Dinner event on Oct. 17 in conjunction with the ProDealer Industry Summit.

Paul Hylbert

Hylbert started his career with Wickes where he spent 21 years. He served sequentially as chief executive of the Wickes Europe, Wickes Lumber, and Sequoia Supply subsidiaries before leading a leveraged buy-out of the latter to form PrimeSource in 1987. He was the CEO of PrimeSource from 1987 until 1999.

After the sale of PrimeSource, he joined Lanoga Corporation in 2001 where he served as CEO until the formation of ProBuild in 2006. Starting as COO, he later became CEO in January of 2007 where he remained until his retirement in October of 2010. He remained on the ProBuild board until May 2011 when he resigned to form Kodiak Building Partners.

Hylbert currently serves as Kodiak Building Partners Chairman. He is a past NLBMDA Chairman and has served on several committees and task groups over the years. He currently serves on the NLBMDA Building Task Group and on the LuDPAC Board of Trustees.


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From the Desk of Jack Laverty from World Vision


World Vision has had a great response for all of our disaster response efforts from many corporations we work with – so THANK YOU for answering the call with much needed (and right fitting) product.  Below is an update regarding our work in Puerto Rico.  The last time I was on a call regarding our work I knew we had one container of product heading that way and another two staged and ready to go as well.  We knew prior to shipment our product would be able to make it the last mile to those in need – so our teams had the logistics and infrastructure in place.  I’ll let the report below fill you in on the rest of the details.

Thank you again for your help, interest and kind words.

Jack Laverty,
Director, Corporate Engagement
World Vision


World Vision’s current partners are NALEC and Urban Strategies. They help World Vision in distributions and response activities through their network of churches in PR. Heavy rains are creating some operational challenges. However, distributions and assessments will go ahead as planned. For example, Mount Zion Church in Perchas helped us distribute 1000 hygiene kits.

Continued concerns:

  • Widespread loss of power
  • Disrupted access to clean water
  • Limited access to fuel and long waits
  • Patchy cell-phone and sat-phone coverage
  • Blocked roads in remote areas and major traffic jams


WV’s response is to assist the most affected people in areas that are not being assisted by other agencies. Particular attention will be paid to the physical, psychosocial and protection needs of children.

  • Response timeframe: 6-12 months+

World Vision’s first distribution provided by the response team was in Corazol, for a shelter housing approximately 150 people who couldn’t return to their homes. They were in need of basic over-the-counter medicines, first aid supplies and hygiene items, which the team purchased and delivered to them.

Also, a distribution of food, water, tarps and hygiene items for 240 households were done in the communities around Utuado, in central Puerto Rico. This has been identified as one of the hardest hit and under-assisted areas of the country.

Relief Phase includes focus on:

  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
  • Food Security
  • Health
  • Shelter and Household Items
  • Children in emergencies
  • Access to Electricity
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Where in the world is Steve?

I’m in the Bronx today with a little spare time and was able to see Fordham University – where the most legendary football coach of all time (Green Bay Packer Legend) played his college ball as one of the famed “seven blocks of granite”.

The image on the left is not the Vincent T. Lombardi building but it’s the only photo that came out well as the rains from now Tropical Storm Nate soaked New York.

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Help with donations for Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria affected areas

As many of you know, Presidents Council is a long time supporter of The Storehouse of Worldvision. They take product donations for low-income families and communities in need.

Right now they are working to get urgently needed supplies down to the areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and we are reaching out to industry suppliers to offer a way that you can help.

Jack Laverty, who heads up their gift-in-kind program, sent a list of products that they need badly. They will also consider other products that are not on this list. If you can help, please reach out to Jack right away. Your company will receive a tax deduction and you’ll help people in need.

  • siding
  • flooring
  • insulation
  • sheet rock
  • roofing tools for demolition
  • OSB – fiber flooring fasteners sheeting, tar paper
  • shop-vacs

Please contact Jack directly:

Jack Laverty
phone:  253.229.8373  |   email:
P.O. Box 9716, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 USA

World Vision /Building a better world for children


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Home Improvement eRetailer Summit Rescheduled

The Home Improvement eRetailer Summit has been rescheduled (due to Hurricane Irma) to November 29 – December 1, at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, FL. 

REGISTER NOW and take $100 off simply by typing in “100off”.
For more information go to

The Home Improvement eRetailer Summit is an opportunity to connect manufacturers, distributors and pre-qualified online retailers who are specifically interested in increasing online sales of home improvement products through collaboration and partnerships.

In addition, this conference is designed to help educate the entire home improvement distribution channel more about the online retail industry. It is designed as a mutually beneficial educational forum for retailers, distributors and manufacturers.

Understanding how to use the Internet as a retail distribution channel is not easy, particularly in the home improvement market, where bricks and mortar have long been the standard bearer of successful retail selling. E-commerce can be very different from the traditional way home improvement suppliers go to market. The eRetailers participating in this summit will share how they optimize their distinct online model and will help suppliers understand the profile of the type of supplier partnerships that are successful in their e-tail environment.

In a curated educational setting, crafted by an advisory board of progressive online retailers, eRetailers will participate in educational tracks that focus on clarifying some of the top issues faced by online retailers today. eRetailers will be able to develop partnerships with suppliers and create sustainable and profitable business relationships. All of these valuable benefits are integrated within an invitation-only gathering.

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Where in the world is Steve?

In somehow sunny Dublin today helping a Presidents Council member get introduced to United Hardware. They are a distributor to 120+ independent hardware stores in Ireland with annual turnover around 300 mil Euro.

I’ve been asked many times if hardware is in my blood… apparently, it may be true but I don’t believe I’m even a small part Irish.