A nation-builder in a nation of builders
Canada is a nation defined by geography, diverse cultures and landscapes, and the remarkable ability of Canadians to build and unite communities in even the most remote and challenging environments. Canadians also pride themselves on celebrating both independence and community. In this nation of builders, the local hardware store is more than just a retail business - it is a cornerstone of its community.
Home Hardware Stores Limited is Canada's largest independent home improvement retailer. The company is owned by close to 1,100 independent small business operators from every corner of Canada, who operate under one of four banners: Home Hardware, Home Hardware Building Centre, Home Building Centre and Home Furniture.
As a testament to Home Hardware's guiding ethic - that community and the common good is simply good business - the company remains a genuinely 100% Canadian, Dealer-owned and operated major retailer.
The birth of a national identity
The Home Hardware name and logo - recognized by four of five Canadians - became official on November 9, 1967, during Canada's internationally defining centennial year.
Three years earlier, in 1964, 122 independent Ontario hardware retailers purchased Hollinger Hardware Limited of St. Jacobs, Ontario. This resulted in the formation of a 100% Dealer-owned business model - an answer to the challenge posed by "big box" retailers who enjoyed the advantage of direct-from-manufacturer buying power. In fact, during the decade prior to this definitive event, some 1,000 independent hardware stores across Canada had closed up shop because they could not see a viable future for themselves in the new retail landscape.
Home Hardware's owner-operators could now be confident and secure in the future of their business - with shared buying power, expanded advertising, comprehensive inventory and delivery and other resources. They haven't stopped building their businesses and serving their communities since.
Inspiring a nationwide community
Home Hardware's unique Dealer-owned business model is reflected in every facet of its company culture. It is indeed a very large organization of independent businesses, defined by individual relationships that its network of Dealers work tirelessly to nurture - with customers, community, and each other.
The company's efforts to foster success, a sense of pride and common purpose, have inspired Home Hardware Dealers to stay in their chosen business; these businesses often being passed down through family generations. There are stores that have been in the same family for over a century - each new generation of owners and customers successively strengthening the bonds of friendship and community. This longevity is also remarkably present among Home Hardware's dedicated staff, lending tremendously valuable experience and continuity to the company's daily operations.
Suppliers of the thousands of quality products offered by the company are also vital to the success of this nationwide business community. Their cooperation, innovation and collaboration - both at the corporate and Dealer level - have helped Home Hardware's unique company model continue to succeed over time in a challenging industry.
Community and charity are values close to home
Home Hardware Dealers and their staff have made the company one of Canada's most esteemed corporate citizens; by their nature, Home Dealers are civic leaders who positively shape the lives of others. One tradition that says a great deal about company values is the foregoing of a Christmas gift exchange among staff, in favour of supporting local agencies that brighten the holidays for families in need.
Human touch, high-tech muscle
If its Dealers and dedicated staff are the heart of Home Hardware, distribution is its backbone. Home Hardware meets the challenge of servicing close to 1,100 stores with a highly efficient, world-class distribution system.
Home Hardware operates four distribution centres: St. Jacobs, Ontario; Elmira, Ontario (Home Furniture); Debert, Nova Scotia; and Wetaskiwin, Alberta; approximately 2.5 million square feet of combined warehousing space holding over 100,000 products. Home Hardware's distinctive yellow trucks, trailers and vans - of which there are over 400 - are a common sight on Canadian roads traveling from these hubs to make their weekly deliveries to stores across the country. The distribution centres are also home to sophisticated service garages that keep these "yellow birds" in top condition.
The company offers over 8,700 exclusively-branded products. Beauti-Tone Paint - produced along with many household products at its plant in Burford, Ontario - is just one well-known Home Hardware private-label success story. These Home Hardware branded products offer customers superior quality with economical pricing.
Home at home in St. Jacobs
A large organization that has never forgotten its small-town community roots, Home Hardware's corporate headquarters and its largest distribution centre is located in the scenic village of St. Jacobs, Ontario.
Twice a year, in Spring and Fall, the corporate office hosts the Home Hardware Dealer Market. Home Hardware's predecessor, Hollinger Hardware, inaugurated the first hardware show in Canada to be organized by an independent retailer in 1961. The hugely popular Dealer Markets outgrew a succession of venues, finding a permanent home in 1979 at the Henry Sittler Building in St. Jacobs. The building is dedicated in tribute to one of the company's founding partners, whose management skills greatly contributed to Home Hardware's enduring success.
The Dealer Markets are much more than just trade shows; they are a multi-community reunion. Here, hundreds of Home Hardware Dealers and employees from across Canada can connect, share ideas and build friendships. Brisk business, Canadian cuisine, and lively entertainment are always highlights of these semi-annual gatherings.
Mr. Hardware - Walter J. Hachborn