Kershaw Builders Supply Revitalizes Business with House-Hasson’s Help

House-Hasson has been very helpful in the conversion of the store.

Steve Jones is breathing a sigh of relief these days, and he says “the breath of fresh air” that has transformed his business dates back to a fateful decision he and his father, Ralph, made three years ago. They decided to switch from their old wholesaler to House-Hasson Hardware.

“We were just looking for a change,” says Steve, who admits the family business, Kershaw Builders Supply in Kershaw, S.C., needed a boost to better meet the changing needs of its customer base.

Ralph Jones and his wife, Delores, established the business in 1970, offering hardware, lumber and building materials out of a 1,000-square-foot store. “We’ve always offered customers a fair price and personalized service. We just try to treat customers right,” explains Ralph. Steve literally grew up in the business, watching how his father took care of customers and capitalized on market opportunities.

While the business was able to prosper and grow over the years, the Joneses knew they needed to find new ways to keep their existing customer base from straying to the big-box stores that have cropped up in nearby towns. The sluggish economy and stalled housing market offered additional obstacles to growing sales.

“We were challenged to look at our retail store from our customer’s point of view,” says Steve. “We had no rhyme or reason for our product selection and presentation.”

They quickly discovered they were in good hands with House-Hasson. Bill Barnette, business development manager, began discussing ways they could improve and grow the business. With help from House-Hasson’s marketing department, Barnette began developing a comprehensive business plan that included a demographic analysis of the market area as well as store design, product selection, pricing, inventory analysis and advertising strategies. “They knew we wanted to do something, so they approached us with the idea,” recalls Steve.

They decided to take the plunge and implement the business plan, which also included upgrading the store’s point-of-sale system. At the January 2009 Dealer Market in Nashville they started looking for new products, expanding existing lines and finalizing the interior signage design.

After an extensive reset and remerchandising, Kershaw Builders now serves customers out of an expanded 4,500-square-foot salesfloor. More importantly, lighting, signage and product assortment have been improved, giving the store a fresh, new look.

“The reset proved to be one of our best decisions,” Steve says. “Getting rid of old fixtures and upgrading to better fixtures has allowed us to merchandise products better and bring a newer look. We even took our old, dull concrete floor and refinished it, which made the changes really stand out.”

A grand reopening celebration was held May 1 to make sure customers were aware of all the changes to the store. Using House-Hasson’s custom circular program to promote the event, they were able to attract more than 150 people who enjoyed homemade ice cream, hot dogs, brownies and soft drinks.

“Our sales continue to grow but more importantly our customer base is increasing,” says Steve, who is grateful for all the help and assistance provided by Barnette and House-Hasson. “They have been with us every step of the way. We could not have completed this project without them.”
Kershaw Builders captures about 60 percent of its business from contractors, but remerchandising the salesfloor and expanding the product selection in categories such as paint have helped the store attract more female customers.

With Barnette’s assistance they have been paying more attention to inventory control, according to Steve, and they plan to continue tweaking their assortment to give customers more reasons to shop local. “We’re very customer-oriented, so we pay attention to what people are asking for,” he adds.

At 80 years old, Ralph still works most days, either in the store or overseeing a construction crew that handles repair and installation work for the business. Kershaw Builders installs everything from doors and windows to water heaters and handles in-home service calls for homeowners.

Seeing the store’s new look has him excited about the future. “We’ve changed a lot over the past two years, but that’s what you’ve got to do to grow the business,” Ralph says.

While he likes the way the store looks now, Ralph is even more pleased that they have picked the right supplier to partner with. “Everyone at House-Hasson has been great. If you have a problem with a product they take care of it,” he says. “And you can call Don Hasson up and he’s always got time to talk to you.”

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