Diversification is Key to Success

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Diversification is Key to Success

Byrnside Hardware Operates Three Businesses that Complement Each Other

Fred Byrnside, who owns Byrnside Hardware in Danville, W. Va., has worked with a bunch of different wholesalers in his three decades of being a retailer, but he’s never dealt with a company as good as House-Hasson Hardware. “They are very sensitive to the needs of dealers and they make you feel like part of the group. They’re just good people,” he says.

After being with True Value for a number of years and switching to Ace in 2000, Byrnside knows he’s found a home in House-Hasson. “I had been dealing with Prichard as a secondary supplier for years when it was still Persinger Supply. Those people made you feel good and you could talk to them,” he says. “It’s the same with House-Hasson–you can call and actually talk to someone who’s eager to help. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Byrnside got his start in retail in 1978 when he bought a business that sold outdoor power equipment. In 1982, he was running a grocery store that also sold some hardware. He ended up buying the hardware business from the owner and renting the building. He now owns the building and has the power equipment located in a standalone space adjacent to the hardware business. A third business he operates, Byrnside Furniture & Appliances, is located across the street.

“We found that one category draws the other,” Byrnside says. “When people come in for hardware, they see the power equipment. Same thing with the furniture and appliances—it builds traffic and helps us sell a lot of related items in pure hardware.”

Both the hardware and power equipment sides are about 6,000 square feet, and Byrnside is cramped for space on the hardware and appliances side. Selling big-ticket items such as furniture, appliances and riding mowers helps balance the smaller transactions he sees for traditional hardware items.

Byrnside estimates lawn and garden/power equipment accounts for about 30 percent of his total sales and furniture/appliances another 15 percent, leaving about half his sales from hardware. Being diversified has helped him weather economic downturns, since a decrease in one area is usually offset by an increase in another.

Although the local housing market has slowed, Byrnside says sales are keeping pace with last year. “We’re having a real good year in hardware and power equipment. We’re the place people come to for basic hardware.”

He is quick to share credit for his success with his staff, which totals 18-26 employees depending on the time of year. “I’ve got the best people working for me. I don’t have to worry about them doing their job right. I appreciate everyone’s dedication,” he says.

The three businesses run smoothly thanks to Jason Berry in parts, Joey Ball in the repair shop, Jim in hardware and Cathy Gray in furniture and appliances, not to mention Theresa Jarrell, who runs the store when Byrnside is not there and also handles all the ordering and bookwork.

Byrnside is a big fan of House-Hasson’s advertising program, because it allows him to easily run ads for unique products he sells like Stihl power equipment as well as promote appliances and furniture. “I’m able to advertise what I want,” he says. “It’s very easy to work with House-Hasson on that, especially Kim Gibbs—she’s great.”

Regular advertising and word-of-mouth helps Byrnside Hardware attract quite a few customers from neighboring towns. “If you listen to people and hear what they have to say, you’ll know what you need to carry. You have to be strong in the core categories,” Byrnside says. “We have 90 percent of what people need, so we don’t force people to go to the big boxes. We recognize that in some cases stores such as ours are the backup.”

Since he competes against two other independents in town as well as numerous big boxes within 20 minutes, Byrnside has adopted House-Hasson’s Priced Right Everyday!® program and pays close attention to prices. “I’ve probably changed 25 percent of my retails due to competition. You have to adjust retails to stay priced right,” he says.

He’s constantly moving merchandise around, sometimes to find room for new lines but also to keep a fresh look for customers. House-Hasson helped him reset the store this year and he gives them high marks for their speed and efficiency.

Another big asset has been Rick Clary, his House-Hasson territory manager. “Rick’s here weekly and I talk to him on the phone nearly every day,” he says. “Beverly Perry at Prichard is also very professional and very receptive to any suggestions. She always gets back to me if I have a question.”

He finds it very beneficial to attend the shows, because they’re easy to work and everyone is helpful. “Rick (Clary) and Beverly (Perry) will help me work the show and make suggestions to me—I get a lot of good input,” he says. “And I’ve met Mr. Hasson. Everyone gets the same greeting from him, and you can tell he really cares about your business.”

Byrnside feels like he has a voice, since he serves on House-Hasson’s Advisory Council. “I was able to offer feedback on heating and cooling products and they listened to me. Our needs are a little different because we’re farther north and a lot of their dealers are in the South, but they’ve got it under control now,” he says.