The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and Stihl Inc. announced on December 15 an exclusive partnership/sponsorship that will develop the leadership skills of the next generation of independent home improvement retailers. The announcement was made at the NRHA 2016 State of Independents Conference in Chicago, where Stihl Inc. presented NRHA with a check for $100,000 to help fund the development, and become the exclusive sponsor, of the NRHA Foundations of Leadership Program and the Foundations of Leadership Annual Conference through 2018.
Scheduled to launch in April 2017, The Foundations of Leadership Program is designed to promote the development of personal leadership skills of young, aspiring retail leaders and help build stronger management teams to fuel growth for participating independent retailers. The 16-week course, which will be delivered online, is currently being developed in conjunction with Ball State University’s John H. Schnatter Institute for Principled Entrepreneurship and a consortium of independent retailers who are guiding the development of course curriculum. These retailers include Aubuchon Hardware, Buchheit, Friedman’s Home Improvement, Foxworth-Galbraith, Jerry’s Home Improvement, Sunshine Ace Hardware and Wilco Stores.
As part of the partnership, Stihl Inc. will also be the exclusive sponsor of the Foundations of Leadership Annual Conference, which is scheduled Aug. 1-3 at NRHA’s headquarters and conference center in Indianapolis. The conference will feature presentations from leadership experts at Ball State University and industry-focused panel discussions and will be free to attend for graduates of the Foundations of Leadership Program, as well as graduates of the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program and all former Young Retailer of the Year honorees. Students’ sponsors from participating companies and top management from consortium retailers and Stihl Inc. will also be in attendance.
“One of the greatest challenges facing small businesses in general, and the retail hardware retailer specifically, is the professional development of leaders who will be responsible for the future success of their businesses,” said Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager for Stihl Inc. “We retail our products exclusively through servicing dealers, and hardware retailers are an ever-increasing part of our dealer network. These businesses have always been at the heart of our success, so investing in their future is a perfect fit for who we are as a brand.”
“We are proud to be working with Stihl Inc. to develop this exciting industry leadership initiative,” said Bill Lee, NRHA president and CEO. “Time and time again Stihl has demonstrated its unwavering support for independent retailers, and this is just one more example of how they are taking a stake in the future success of the independent channel. We can’t thank them enough for their support, and we look forward to a long partnership.”