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THE PRESIDENT’S REPORT
A Meaningful Milestone
Contents Ask the Expert 4 Online Traffic 8 Featured Products 10 Setting Up for Success 18 Spring Market Preview 20 150 Years in the Making 28 Customer Feature 34 Diamond Building Supply Customer Feature 46 Rufe’s Paint Store Hardware House 48 News 50 On the Cover Titus Chupp, owner of Diamond Building Supply in Clark, Missouri,
T his year, we celebrate our sesquicentennial, our 150th anniversary. For any business to last 150 years and be in the fifth generation
of family leadership, we must have someone to thank, and we do: you, our customers. You are the cornerstone of our accomplishments. This year, we will celebrate you and your commitment to your business and ours. We feel a deep connection to our customers, and most are like family to us. That connection is the No. 1 reason we’ve survived and thrived. I am proud to lead this company into a new age. We’ve been able to stay small enough to be agile and large enough to embrace technological and programmatic advances along the way. I’m confident our founders—David P. Blish, Edward Mize and Jack Silliman— could not have imagined our world would look as it does today. When our company was founded, even our headquarters in Atchison, Kansas, was a much different place. Those men set out to build a business that would help the wagoneers headed west on the Oregon Trail, outfitting them with goods to last through their difficult journey. If you know the retail landscape, this is not unlike what we do today: helping you, our customers, navigate those challenging roads that lay ahead. Blish-Mize has helped its customers through numerous local, regional and national challenges, including most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. I am not sure what our forefathers would say, but 2020 was our most demanding year to date. As a company, we did our best to thrive, as many of you did as well. I am still so proud of our team and their commitment to making life-changing adjustments practically overnight. We know you did, too, and will continue to do so into the unforeseen future. As retailers, you can relate to our company ethos that honors the customer and makes sure that “if we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” That mantra helped guide us through 2020 and will continue to be what illuminates our future. The Blish-Mize vision for the future remains optimistic and full of growth. We will continue to align ourselves with our customers’ success and create programs that drive retail in all avenues. We will continue investing in our employees, our facilities and new technologies, and practice area expertise while endeavoring to steer clear of industry fads and pitfalls. Our family extends its sincere thanks to our customers for sticking with us for 150 years, as a few of you have. While we know that challenges lay ahead for our industry, know that we are here to help you in every way to make sure you also have a long-term success story. Jonathan D. Mize CEO and President firstname.lastname@example.org
and his wife Christina built a brand new store last year.
Advertising Information Hardlines Strategies is published twice every year by Blish-Mize. Copyright 2021. For advertising rates and deadlines, please contact:
Buying the Right Way Making Smart Buying Choices in Unprecedented Times
O ver the last year, the industry saw unprecedented changes and challenges for purchasing and stocking products. Strategies magazine spoke with Sarah Lee, Blish-Mize vice president of purchasing, for some expert insight and tips to help take you into 2021 and the Spring Buying Market.
Lee has worked for Blish-Mize for 19 years—the past 12 years of which were spent in the purchasing department—where she has held the positions of assistant buyer, merchandise manager, purchasing director, and now, vice president of purchasing.
Strategies : What can you tell us about your role in the purchasing department at Blish-Mize? Sarah Lee (SL): I oversee the purchasing team, and I work strategically to negotiate the best programs and pricing, decide the best direction to make each category a stronger, more well-rounded department, and make sure the orders keep flowing. Our primary department responsibility is to keep Blish-Mize in stock, therefore keeping our customers in stock. Our No. 1 priority is maintaining a high level of service to our customers. SL: “Unprecedented” seems to be the word of the year. However, it perfectly describes what we’ve faced in supply chain management. The last year has been unlike any other where product procurement has proven more challenging. Overall, as a company, we have done a great job maintaining a respectable Strategies : What is the current status of the Blish-Mize supply chain?
“The last year has been unlike any other where product procurement has proven more challenging. Overall, as a company, we have done a great job maintaining a respectable fill rate for our customers.” —Sarah Lee, vice president of purchasing
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ASK THE EXPERT
Strategies : How has your department worked to better help customers during this time? SL: The purchasing department maintains a file share that gets relayed to our customers. We post updates on vendor and item specifics to keep everyone in the know. For our sales team, having this available at their fingertips helps answer specific questions in the field, especially where there are so many items and vendors affected. Information is key as customers understand the challenge the last year has brought. Everyone has noticed disruption across many industries. Our customers want an idea of when to expect our next shipment or a heads up of a replacement item or vendor brought in to fill a void. Strategies : Can you share some tips and best practices for customers who may be looking to optimize their planning and purchasing? SL: Promotions are a large part of our purchasing and planning process. Everyone loves a deal. When we’re offered a discount, we buy out heavier than normal in anticipation of being able to promote to our customers. The discount given and the estimation of how many units we can move are also taken into consideration. 2021 events as we celebrate our 150th anniversary. The purchasing department is working to put together some of the best deals and buying events surrounding our Spring 2021 Buying Market. There are big things in the works, including some items that are unique to Blish-Mize. The Buying Market will feature the top brands at industry-leading prices. We will also adjust the layout of the show to allow for more space between aisles, which will change the show’s look and feel. Utilizing more of the Overland Park Convention Center will allow us to keep a safe distance between everyone. Not many can celebrate the 150th year mark, so we will take every opportunity to host the best, long-overdue show. I look forward to getting back to the shows that 2020 did not allow. See you in March! This is something our stores can take advantage of with consistent, online promotions and at our Customer Buying Markets. Strategies : What would you like to share about purchasing and the upcoming Spring Market? SL: Blish-Mize has big plans in the works for both of our
fill rate for our customers. The past several months have seen an improvement in keeping product flowing. Some categories of goods will continue to be in short supply, most specifically personal protective equipment (PPE). Strategies : What has your experience been buying and filling orders during the COVID-19 pandemic? How has your department adjusted to changes during this time? SL: To keep up with the increased demand and longer lead times, we are buying sooner, seeking alternate suppliers and sources and working with vendors to make sure we stay up to date on the status of our orders. Communication with our vendors is a crucial element in staying current with the ever-changing situation. In some cases, inventory goes in and out of stock very quickly. This is especially true in PPE, as some products are still difficult to get a hold of. Strategies : Where would you say Blish-Mize is now compared to six months ago? SL: We are in a much better inventory position now. There is still some ground to make up to get back to our normal high standards on fill rate. Strategies : Do you have future plans or projections for the supply chain? SL: I anticipate a slow recovery where our vendors are concerned. It will take time for them to fulfill backorders. Lead times will likely remain extended through the first half of 2021. The supply chain still has some factors working against us that will prevent an immediate turnaround. Reduced space on container ships, limited transportation availability stateside, raw material shortages and the staffing effects of COVID-19 are still creating supply challenges. SL: Blish-Mize has always had the benefit of being able to react quickly. That proved very beneficial last year in the rapidly changing supply chain. The ability to set up a new supplier in a timely manner gives us the edge to change course and fill a void. We have also changed some internal technologies to more efficiently track open orders with our vendors, and this change will remain in place. Strategies : Do you see any of these changes or adjustments becoming a permanent part of your process?
“Blish-Mize has always had the benefit of being able to react quickly. That proved very beneficial last year in the rapidly changing supply chain. The ability to set up a new supplier in a timely manner gives us the edge to change course and fill a void.” —Sarah Lee, vice president of purchasing
6 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
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Stocking Up and Staying Home How Consumers’ Shopping Habits Changed in 2020
T he pandemic has had a direct impact on how consumers choose to shop, and there is reason to believe those new habits will become part of shoppers’ regular routines.
Many of you were the first in your communities to offer curbside pickup of online or phone orders, and recent data shows consumers will appreciate and utilize those options long after the pandemic is behind us. The Home Improvement Retail Institute (HIRI) has been collecting data on consumer shopping habits for more than a decade. HIRI polled shoppers throughout 2020, and its 2020 Home Improvement Retail Selector Study, produced in conjunction with IHS Markit, gathered data on the changes to shoppers’ habits and the most highly impacted home improvement categories. Review the metrics here and consider giving your customers more options to shop.
Across every home improvement category, up to 90% of respondents reported gathering information before making a purchase.
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people shopped at home centers and hardware stores (compared to specialty stores or discount/department stores). 3 TOP REASONS 1 Convenient location 2 One-stop shopping
Where people seek more information before buying: 39% Friends/relatives 33% Online video 29% Home improvement retailers
Great product selection
Source: 2020 Home Improvement Retail Selector Study, HIRI/IHS Markit
Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2021 9
Spring 2021 Selections Check Out These Top Vendors and Products This Season
Folding String Trimmer The DeWalt 20V MAX* 14-inch String Trimmer features an innovative folding hinge that reduces its length by 40 percent for easy carrying and storage. A QuickLoad™ Spool allows for easy line replacement and its 14-inch swath provides a large cutting area. The variable speed trigger and a Hi/Lo speed control switch offer performance, runtime and power level management. DeWalt dewalt.com or 800-235-2000
Pellet Grill Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 Pellet Grill features easy-to-use smart cooking controls—including a timer mode and temp-probe mode—and 900 square inches of cooking space. This grill offers versatile functions, including low and slow smoking, high-temperature grilling and direct heat searing over its Live Fire Plate. Oklahoma Joe’s oklahomajoes.com or 800-318-7744
Push-to-Install EMT Conduit Fittings Southwire EMT SIMPush™ fittings offer an innovative way to install conduit fittings, replacing traditional screw and compression couplings. No tools, screws or moving parts are required for installation—simply push the fitting onto the conduit. The SIMPush fittings come in a variety of styles and sizes and are easily removable and reusable. The fitting maintains a grounding path. Southwire southwiretools.com or 855-798-6657
10 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
Blish-Mize 150th Anniversary Drop Shipments Available
Building & Lumber Supplies
Heavy Duty Corral Panel
Exterior Paint Brush The 2 1/2-inch Stinger Pro Brush saves painters time and money as no tape is needed for cutting in, trimming or edging when using this brush. Its Stiff Stinger Tip ® provides extended filaments for better control and smooth paint release. It can be used on exterior and rough surfaces and with all paint types and stains. Stinger Brush Co. stingerbrush.com or 888-497-8464
Heavy-Duty Adhesive and Sealant The Total Tech All-in-One Heavy-Duty Adhesive and Sealant in white is intended for a variety of DIY, professional and industrial applications and can be used in place of construction adhesives and all-purpose sealants. It bonds with a strength of up to 430 lbs. PSI, seals with a flexibility of 370 percent elongation and can repair materials in all-weather conditions. Super Glue Corp. supergluecorp.com or 800-538-3091
12 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
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Exterior Wood Sealer The Duckback Exterior Wood Sealer, in a clear finish and 1-gallon size, enhances woodgrain and offers protection from mold and mildew. This colorless waterproofer enhances the natural look of the wood, offers longterm water beading and blocks UV rays to slow decay and graying. It sheds water after four hours. Duckback superdeck.com or 800-825-5382
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14 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
Natural Mosquito Repellent Grandpa Gus’s All-Natural Mosquito Repellent prevents mosquitoes from biting by using natural plant oils to inhibit mosquitoes’ senses. It comes in a lemon scent and is suitable for application on both skin and clothing. The 4-ounce bottles are an ideal size for taking on camping trips, hikes or even slipping in your pocket. Grandpa Gus’s grandpagus.com or 888-698-6463
Barn Door Pull Accessory The National Hardware 12-inch Madison Pull in brushed gold adds modern design flair to interior barn door hardware. It is recommended for use on wood interior doors and is designed to match the finish of National barn door kits. It is easy to install and comes ready with all parts and accessories. National Hardware national-hardware.com or 800-346-9445
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Deck Stain Messmer’s U.V. Plus for Decks, Fences & Siding, in a cedar finish and 1-gallon size, offers a premium oil-based natural wood finish that protects and conditions exterior wood. It is mildew resistant and provides water repellency and UV ray protection while reducing wood warping, cracking and shrinking. This versatile product can be used for nearly any exterior wood project. Messmer’s messmers.com or 800-731-3669
Rear-Trigger Nozzle The Melnor Vortex Rear-Trigger 6-Pattern Nozzle produces six spray patterns, including jet, flat, shower, mist, soaker and intense vortex sprays that can drive away debris from gutters and sidewalks or water plants and flowers without switching nozzles. The slip-resistant rubber grip makes it easy to hold and the trigger lock helps prevent hand strain. Melnor melnor.com or 877-283-0697
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If These Aisles Could Talk What Your Merchandising Tells Your Customers
M erchandising has a lot to say to shoppers. It shapes their perception of your pricing, inventory position and expected level of customer service, and it can influence how much they buy.
Powerful merchandising can build your average transaction size and help customers find what they need quickly. As we head into springtime home renovation projects, you will want to be ready with fresh display ideas to help lead them to the right tools for the tasks they have at the top of their lists. Check out the tips on the next page to help you make the most of your setups this year. Also, while you’re walking the floor at the Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market this year, be sure to check out the displays in Assortment Central for more inspiration on how to set up your endcaps for maximum impact. Read more about the opportunities at the Market on Page 20.
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6 Components of an Effective Display
Sharp Assembly Show products assembled and out of the box so customers can touch them and understand how they work.
Curated Assortment Let customers see the wide
assortment of products you carry in the highlighted category and how it differs from your competitors.
Targeted Signage Reinforce your merchandising message with clear, concise signage. You can use signs to draw attention to a sale or to boost impulse buys.
Seasonal Suggestions Change displays with the seasons to remind customers of the products they’ll need for upcoming projects.
Add-on Sales Boost transaction size by suggesting the necessary accessories that go with the tool or project you are selling.
Custom Displayer You likely can construct a simple but effective merchandiser using materials you already have around the store.
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W E L C O M E
Celebrating Our 150th With You Enjoy Historic Savings at the Spring Buying Market
B rowse the of special discounts, enjoy food and drinks and discover learning opportunities and new products at the 2021 Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market, which will be held March 18-20 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kansas. Market floor, take advantage
Be an MVP The MVP Savings Event kicks off the Spring Buying Market on Thursday, March 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Customers can enjoy boxed appetizers and drinks along with Showstopper deals, which are only available that evening. Cash spiffs will be available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “Our sales team is excited to see customers in person and get back to business,” says Clay Uhrmacher, vice president of sales and marketing at Blish-Mize. “We’ve missed seeing everyone face-to-face and hope that great pricing, an amazing selection of products and the safety measures we’ve enacted will encourage our customers to attend.” Must-Shop Spaces As you shop the Market floor, check out these areas. • THE 150 features 150 top-selling items offered at deeply discounted prices in honor of Blish-Mize’s 150th anniversary.
This event not only marks a return to our in-person Markets, it is also an opportunity for us to celebrate our historic 150th anniversary with unbeatable deals. “We know our customers and vendors are looking forward to a safe in-person Market experience, and Blish-Mize is going to great lengths to put this show on safely,” says Jonathan Mize, Blish-Mize CEO and president. The Overland Park Convention Center recently received the Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR Facility Accreditation in recognition of its facilities’ air treatment systems and overall cleanliness. “Things will be different at this Market,” Mize says. “We are asking our vendors and customers to wear masks. Our meals (including the barbecue) will still be delicious, but we will be serving everything individually packaged. What remains the same is our unbeatable pricing.”
Photo by Overland Park CC/Cathryn Farley Photography
You can enjoy a safe Market experience! The Overland Park Convention Center, which will host the Spring Buying Market, recently received the Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR Facility Accreditation for its facilities’ air treatment systems and overall cleanliness.
Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2021 21
Anniversary+ Coupons “We are also changing our Margin+ coupons to Anniversary+ coupons in honor of our anniversary,” Kane says. “If a customer purchases more than $4,000 of qualifying* Market warehouse purchases, they will receive the Anniversary+ coupon pricing for 150 days after the Market, ending Aug. 17.” Market Attendee Terms Four percent cash discount and 60 days dating on all qualifying* warehouse market purchases. *Qualifying market purchases include warehouse Market orders placed that weekend and online SmartBook orders. You must attend the Market to receive 4% Net 10th + 60-day terms.
• Assortment Central highlight s a variety of assortments with spiffs and deep discounts. • Featured New Products includes the latest new-to-the-industry items and advances in product technology from new and favorite vendors. • Pallet Buys offers special 150 Years of Deals “We are replacing THE 24 program with THE 150 program for our 150th anniversary this year,” says Cindy Kane, marketing director at Blish-Mize. “We have chosen 150 individual items at the best prices of the year. These items will only be available at the show and you must attend to receive this pricing.” discounts on quantity buys. The full listing is available at blishmize.com.
Safety First Your safety is our top priority. Here are just a few things Blish-Mize is doing to make sure everyone stays safe. 1. Wider aisles and more space between the vendor booths throughout the convention center. 2. All meals are individually boxed and tables are socially distanced from each other. 3. Masks and hand sanitizer stations will be available. 4. Requiring masks or face coverings per Johnson County, Kansas, law. For more information on how we are keeping you safe at this in-person event, visit blishmize.com/market.
Continued on Page 26
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COME SEE US AT BOOTH #229
Let’s Also Do Our Part Bring andWear Your Mask • Johnson County law requires that every market attendee wear a face mask. • It should be worn properly across your nose and mouth. • It can be removed for eating and drinking. • We are also giving out face masks for free!
Stay Safe and Remember These Tips • Wash and dry your hands and sanitize often. • Follow health etiquette. Leave your mask on to cough or sneeze. Also, while we would love to see you, please stay home if you feel sick. • Observe physical distancing. This means staying 6 feet apart from others.
24 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
Only in your neighborhood. With a range of gas, electric and hybrid heat pump technology, you can feel confident that U.S. Craftmaster’s full line of water heaters will help you meet the needs of any customer. And they’re only available at local hardware stores, making you the best stop in the neighborhood for hot water.
The SmartBook is broken into three groups of items. • Key selling “Market Featured” items. • New items Blish-Mize has added from vendors in the last year. • The balance of the items you have purchased, sorted in quantity order. Contact your sales representative or visit blishmize.com to receive your SmartBook and start planning your time at the Market. Download the Apps The Blish-Mize and Blish-Mize Market apps can help you make the most of your time at the Market. What’s Available on the Blish-Mize App • Access the Blish-Mize product catalog. • Review updated product and inventory information, scan UPC barcodes and see personalized purchase information. • Place orders from your smartphone or tablet. What’s Available on the Market App • Make an appointment to meet your sales rep at the convention center— and even add notes on what you would like to discuss. • Find venue information and receive notifications for events and product demonstrations. • Create a personal to-do list so you don’t forget to circle back with a vendor or find more information on a product. The free apps are available for download on iOS and Android devices. Search “Blish-Mize” in the app store.
Continued from Page 22
Visit Assortment Central This area of the Market highlights popular displays and merchandising tips. Take advantage of discounts and deals on the latest product lines. Head to Hardware House Visit the Hardware House booth to view a full lineup of products available to Blish-Mize customers, including fixtures, locksets and more. See Page 48 for an update on upcoming Hardware House offerings. Explore Digital Advertising manager, which has been redesigned to enhance digital promotion sharing and provides better speed, reliability and mobile capabilities. Use Your SmartBook Before the Market, be sure to consult your SmartBook. This booklet (available online and in print) is customized for your store and can help you make smart buying decisions before and during the Spring Market. The SmartBook includes your warehouse purchases for the past 12 months. It also offers suggested ordering amounts for the next three and six months to help you plan your purchases before you arrive at the Market. Stop by the Sales booth to learn more about the new AdViewer
2021 Spring Market Checklist This list includes deals and events for customers attending the 2021 Spring Buying Market.
MVP Savings Event Showstoppers THE 150 Products
Anniversary+ Coupons Featured New Products Assortment Central Pallet Buys Seminars From NHPA’s Dan Tratensek
and Future Trends Expert David Houle
26 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
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True Temper® is one of the most widely recognized Lawn and Garden tool brands in the industry. Forged and tempered to be tougher than the rest, our tools our built with a legacy of true steel strength and enduring quality. We deliver a wide range of dependable products to successfully get the job done, in any season.
HARPER ® brooms are made to stand the test of time and have a durability you can count on. With manufacturing and assembly in the USA, HARPER ® push brooms are tough, reliable, and hardworking. Crafted with premium fibers and furniture-grade hardwood, HARPER ® products are engineered to make clean up easier and more efficient.
Dedicated to Quality Blish-Mize Celebrates 150 Years of Service to You
Home Lumber and Supply has been doing business since 1905. Blish-Mize was one of the original vendors—and they are our oldest customer.
B lish-Mize Co. is celebrating 150 years in business. The company had its start outfitting wagons headed west on the Oregon Trail. Today, we serve more than 1,500 customers in 13 states. As we celebrate our sesquicentennial, we want to recognize and thank our employees and customers for being the cornerstone of our success.
At Home With Blish-Mize Home Lumber and Supply was founded in 1905 during expansion into the state of Oklahoma. The company built and purchased yards, following the railroad west into newly formed towns in Oklahoma and serving the settlers and agricultural producers of those towns—and Blish-Mize was one of its original vendors. Today, Home Lumber and Supply is a full-service building materials and lumber dealer headquartered in Ashland, Kansas, with 88 employees and 15 stores located throughout the state, primarily in rural communities. “Blish-Mize has supported our growth by being a true partner to Home Lumber for well over a century. They are usually our first call when we decide to move into a new location or refresh an existing one,” says Hervey Wright, Home Lumber and Supply’s general manager. “Our relationship with Blish-Mize is different from what we have with any other supplier—it is almost like they are a part of our company, and we trust them completely. Attending the Blish-Mize Market twice a year is more like attending a family reunion than a buying market. It is just a really cool relationship, one that is still going strong after 116 years. How many business partnerships can say that?”
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“Our customers count on us to have the product available that they need, when they need it and at a fair value. We work with companies like Blish-Mize that we know we can count on to allow us to do just that.” —Tom Monckton, Star Lumber & Supply
Wright says Blish-Mize understands exactly what his company needs from a hardware supplier, and they go the extra mile to make sure it happens. “During the craziness of this past year, Blish-Mize did the best out of all our suppliers in communicating the challenges they were facing and doing everything possible to ensure the impact on our business was limited,” he says. “We trust them and know we can always count on them.” Shining Star Supplier Star Lumber & Supply was founded in 1939 by Earl Goebel. It began as a lumber supply company with an 800-square-foot lumber shed and quickly grew into a large-scale lumber and home project supply store. Since its inception, Star Lumber has remained family-owned and operated for four generations. Blish-Mize has been a supplier since 1968. Today, Star Lumber & Supply has eight locations (seven in Kansas and a location in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
a product category, merchandising or resetting a whole new store, they have taken an active interest in our success.” Tom Monckton, Star Lumber purchasing manager and industrial sales manager, says Blish-Mize is a company they can depend on. “Our customers count on us to have the product available that they need, when they need it and at a fair value. We work with companies like Blish-Mize that we know we can count on to allow us to do just that,” he says.
and around 325 employees. Its mission is to be the region’s premier supplier of building products and services for the professional customer and DIYers who desire those services for their home projects. “Over the years, Star has had to reinvent itself and continually change to be successful, and Blish-Mize has been there to actively help us every step of the way,” says Patrick Goebel, Star Lumber & Supply president and chief operating officer. “Whether it be helping us reset
Star Lumber & Supply has been working with Blish-Mize since 1968, and the distributor is a key part of the company’s success, according to president and chief operating officer Patrick Goebel.
Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2021 29
BLISH-MIZE: 150 YEARS
Stories From the Staff
“I left Blish-Mize to be a stay-at-home mom, and then I came back after 7 years. The first time I worked here, there were great times winning tickets to Lakefest on Bingo, getting work friends together for our own Christmas dinners and making new friends I still talk to to this day. I chose to come back because I got my old job back, and I was blessed that they work around my schedule so I can take my kids to school every day. I also have a wonderful supervisor who cares and two other supervisors who tell me they are very happy I’m back. It’s always great to hear positive feedback to make a person do better at their job.” Tyra Pickman, Returns Department
“I retired from Blish-Mize after 47 years in 2013. My first position was secretary in the traffic department, and eventually I became the traffic manager. I loved working with the truck drivers. They were a great group of people and made sure merchandise was delivered to our customers on time. I finished my career at Blish-Mize in customer service. We were like a family. I really liked going to the Blish-Mize Markets because I finally got to put a face to the customers I talked with on the phone every day. Loyal customers helped us get through some rough times. I worked with so many wonderful people during my time at Blish-Mize, from warehouse personnel, truck drivers, salesmen out on the road, office staff and management. A lot of good memories.” Sarah Dunning, Retired
30 Spring 2021 • Hardlines Strategies
“I started fresh out of high school in 1968 as an order clerk at the 5th Street warehouse of Blish, Mize and Silliman. I was just wanting a job, but what I got was a career. I was impressed within days when then president John H. Mize Sr. introduced himself to me while I was working my orders. He said he liked knowing the people the company had working for them. From there, I worked a number of positions in several different departments. All were good training for the next. I then started my longest position as merchandise manager, which I held for just over 30 years. I bought items in almost every department, but enjoyed hand and power tools the most. I witnessed the old-school ways before computers and adjusted to the new ways as time went by. I retired on March 1, 2019 with 50-plus years of service to Blish-Mize along with my Estwing Gold Hammer for service to the hardware industry. Countless dealer markets and shows fill my mind. I made so many friends through the years. Salespeople I admired, customers who I got the opportunity to know and work with, plus hundreds of employees I worked alongside are my fondest memories. When one works at the same place for so many years, these people become more like family. You share in their personal joys as well as their sorrows. Thank you Blish-Mize Co. for the 50 years I was a part of your 150 years. I feel very fortunate.” Rich Clem , Retired
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1/7/21 5:11 PM Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2021 31
BLISH-MIZE: 150 YEARS
Secrets to Success: A Conversation With John and Jonathan Mize
Strategies : When you reflect on the past 150 years, where do you see Blish-Mize in the future? JHM: If this year has taught me anything, it’s that we need to be flexible. We need to constantly innovate to remain successful, which we are doing on a daily basis. JM: I still see us continuing to serve the independent hardware retailer. Whether they are brick-and-mortar, strictly online or a combination of both. I see us always becoming more efficient and improving how accurately we can get orders out to our customers. What we are currently working on within our distribution center— installing a new conveyor system throughout our facility, a flow rack for fast-moving case goods or even in shipping, by making it easier for our loaders to stage and palletize orders for delivery— is putting us right up there with the major fulfillment centers in the country.
Strategies : What does 150 years of Blish-Mize mean to you? John H. Mize (JHM): I suppose I should say it means a wild success. If I read an article about one of our longtime stores doing great businesses in a tough environment, that means the most. Jonathan Mize (JM): Survival. In my 30-plus years of being in this industry, it’s somewhat amazing to me that much larger companies than ours have gone away, and we’re still here. I was telling someone recently that be it pandemics, World Wars, grasshopper plagues, a Dust Bowl or land rush, territory or state establishments, Blish-Mize has survived, evolved and continued to be of service for the past 150 years. I’m sure our founders David Blish, Edward Mize and Jack Silliman would be amazed that we have been “delivering more” for this many years and we’re here to celebrate our sesquicentennial.
John H. Mize Chairman of the Board
Jonathan Mize CEO and President
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Strategies : What sets Blish-Mize apart, whereas competitors and other businesses haven’t endured? What is the “secret sauce”? JHM: I would venture to guess that our employees are the secret sauce. We are small enough to care and big enough to get the job done. But we also put in the effort to finish the job and make good on our promises. The kind of loyalty we have at our office is a rarity. Some of them have devoted their entire careers to Blish-Mize and our success, and I am grateful to them for that. Along with the associates and our supportive team, we always make sure that “our wagon is full” (of inventory). We keep our inventory levels at a great spot in order to keep the industry-leading service level we’ve always had. Strategies: How has being a family- owned, Midwestern distributor both contributed to your success and presented challenges? JHM: That old saying, “If you know, you know,” rings true for Midwesterners. We work harder, we care more and we want the best for others. JM: I would have to say it’s because we are here in the Midwest with Midwestern values that have certainly helped. But it has sometimes presented challenges as we evolved over the years. Again, when I started in this industry over 30 years ago, I could count on both hands all the independent, family-owned full-line wholesale hardware distributors in the U.S. Now I can maybe count them all on one hand. Even though we are a regional distributor, we still provide service nationwide, with a few points out in the Pacific Ocean territories. We got involved in e-commerce fulfillment services right at the beginning of the dot- com craze, back in 2000. And once again, direct family involvement.
Customers can call me or any upper management personnel at any time. I’ve traveled to the majority of the accounts we service. We take care of our customers—they are not a number, they are family. Strategies : What’s your earliest memory of the family business? JHM: My father told me that the secret of success is to take care of the customers. It was ingrained from an early age. Street office and warehouse and walking through all five floors of product we had. Down on our first floor, we used to have railroad cars unload products coming in from manufacturers. Those boxcars were huge to me as a kid! I also remember my dad running down a dark aisle in the warehouse, and shutting the door behind him, “locking” me in! I cried like crazy! Those were good times. Strategies : You have many longstanding customer relationships. How and why have these relationships endured? JHM: We consider our customers like family. I think that is no secret within the industry. This past year was tough because normally we like to see them and socialize with them a few times a year. We like to visit their stores, find out about the communities they serve and really get to know what makes them measure success. We hope we can get back to that in 2021. JM: As a young boy, I can remember my dad taking me down to our 5th JM: For key players in this day and age, it’s hard to name names from the vendor community or retail community as things change so quickly. However, we do have many longtime partners on both sides, and we look forward to that continued relationship. Being willing to accept
and adapt to change, I believe, is why we’re still here, 150 years later. Some of our customers we have been doing business with for well over 100 years! Others for over 50 years. There are not too many businesses in our industry, or even many businesses in the U.S. that can say that—not to mention our company being led by a fifth-generation family member. I’m not sure that it qualifies us for The Guinness Book of World Records, but they should at least inquire with us! Strategies : What are some of the major events and milestones you have experienced and been a part of here at Blish-Mize? JM: Seeing our company grow due to additional sales volume over the years. Various acquisitions that made us a stronger company. Becoming a member-owner in Distribution America. Getting our salespeople and customers more efficient in the area of technology. Online ordering and all the other tools that we have to offer that put us right in line with our competition. I’ve been here to see us celebrate our 120th, 125th, 130th, 135th, 140th, 145th and now our 150th anniversary.
I’m so proud to be leading our company into our next chapter.
Watch Our Story Scan this QR code to watch our 150th anniversary video. If your smartphone does not have a reader, visit blishmize.com
Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2021 33
Titus Chupp, owner of Diamond Building Supply, with his wife Christina, who helps out at the store, and their four children (from left), Kristalyn, Kaleb, Kristopher and Kendra.
A New Store and New Start Diamond Building Supply Sees a Strong Partner in Blish-Mize
C lark, Missouri, is a tightknit farming community located between Moberly and Columbia, off of U.S. Highway 63. It’s here that Titus Chupp opened Diamond Building Supply, a general lumberyard and building materials store.
Out With the Old In October 2019, Chupp began the process of acquiring a 16-year-old Amish-owned building supply business, Yoder Lumber, retaining its customers and purchasing the business itself but not its real estate. As part of the purchase agreement, Chupp was allowed to operate his business out of the 900-square-foot former Yoder Lumber location until his new store location could be completed. The agreement also stipulated that Chupp would find a new supplier for the store. On Jan. 1, 2020, Chupp opened Diamond Building Supply in the former
Yoder Lumber location. For him, the location was a soft introduction to retail. It was situated 4 1/2 miles out into the country, off unpaved gravel roads. “Many people didn’t even know it existed,” Chupp says. Its customers were mostly contractors who worked on builds in Columbia, Moberly and Mexico, Missouri, and the surrounding communities. Chupp has come to know them all by name. In With the New That October, Chupp purchased property that would become the home for his new 7,680-square-foot store less