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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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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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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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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.

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Where in the world is Steve?

You don’t expect it to be 94F in Germany. Life in a business suit can be uncomfortable without air conditioning. Not so for Germany’s DIY retailers this summer though. The low interest rates here are causing people to invest in their homes rather than putting money in the banks. Sales are strong.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Southern England today to introduce our Presidents Council member to the Kingfisher Group at the B&Q offices in Chandler’s Ford. Kingfisher is in the beginning stages of changing their purchasing from individual chain based to 90% group purchasing by 2020 for all the Kingfisher brands (B&Q, Castorama, etc.). All suppliers from Northern Europe and North America will be the responsibility of this U.K. office.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Just outside of Antwerp, Belgium today meeting with the Brico Alliance Group at the HUBO headquarters. Brico Alliance consists of 9 mid-size EUROPEAN DIY retailers from Iceland to Estonia and as far south as Morocco. Their combined annual sales are around 1.3 Billion Euro. Purchasing Directors from all the chains get together quarterly to discover new products and combine volume for more cost-efficient production runs from suppliers.

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Where in the world is Steve?

After a short morning flight, we find ourselves in Cologne, Germany today to meet with TOOM BAUMARKT after a quick bit of store research and a visit to the parking lot for an outstanding bratwurst. This woman had grill skills that could put the Lambeau Field tailgate to shame.

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Where in the world is Steve?

I’m in Berlin today at the 5th Annual Global DIY Summit. It looks to be around 1000 attendees mostly at the senior-level from companies across the supply chain from around the world (although heavily European). Topics include innovation and economic forecast but this year there is a new emphasis on political issues with the Brexit and US election receiving much attention.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Following a late flight and 2am hotel arrival, I woke up this morning, freezing cold, in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. After a great meeting with Bauhof (13 stores in Estonia), we had a chance to see the Christmas market in the old town. It seems about 1/3 of the stands were selling glogg but the sausages and sauerkraut dominated the smell in the air.

 

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Where in the world is Steve?

Guten Morgen!
We are in Mannheim Germany today to visit with BAUHAUS and talk BBQs. Bauhaus now has over 260 stores in 19 countries with the recent addition of Luxembourg. Afterward we made it to the airport in time for one last Pils and pretzel before boarding our flight to Estonia for tomorrow’s chapter in this week’s story.

 
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Where in the world is Steve?

Where in the world is Steve?
It’s a three-country day. We began in Antwerp, Belgium visiting our friends at Brico Alliance at the Hubo offices to discuss which of the nine-member organizations (small to mid-size EUROPEAN DIY retailers) will participate in a test market for a new vendor.

From there we drove to Amsterdam to meet with one of the logistics solutions that have helped Council members and discuss how they may handle spare parts, less than container quantities, customer service calls and B2C shipments for this supplier. Afterward, we made the long drive to Germany for tomorrow’s meeting.

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I’m in Chandlers Ford, England today at the Kingfisher “mothership”. They are the largest DIY Group in Europe with chains such as B&Q (UK) and Castorama (France) and annual sales north of $11 Billion.

Having recently made to decision to reorganize purchasing under the Kingfisher banner and bring the entire group to 90% corporate-wide suppliers by 2020, they asked us to talk to them about how we may help identify innovative suppliers from North America which will now be handled through the U.K. office.

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I left south Florida on Tuesday and met our team (Julie, Daniela, Curt and Diana) in Fort Wayne, IN. for our Buying Day at Do It Best on Wednesday with 75 eager suppliers.

From there Daniela and I drove to Toledo, OH for another Buying Day with one of the country’s largest and oldest DIY distributors, Bostwick-Braun. You may notice an upgrade in photography – that would be talent, which Daniela possesses and I do not. We were greeted with friendly faces and snow flurries and introduced 30 suppliers to their buyers. I am on my way back to South Florida to change out my bag and head out Saturday for the next Hardware-related “adventure”!