HARDLINES Strategies


SPRING 2024, VOL. 24, 1

Bethany Building Center Completes a Reset and Remodel Mission: Reset

Also in This Issue 7 Steps to Develop a Culture of Selling

Destination Savings! Attend the Spring Buying Market

1 Fall 2017 • Hardlines Strategies

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Serving Our Customers

Contents Ask the Expert . . . . . . . . . . .2 Featured Products . . . . . . . .4 Online Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Spring Market Preview . . . .12 Heart of Hardware . . . . . . . .20 Customer Feature . . . . . . . .24 Bethany Building Center Customer Feature . . . . . . . .30 Shamburger & Graham Building Center Hardware House . . . . . . . . .36 Company News. . . . . . . . . .38 Smart Warehouse Upgrades Remembering John . . . . . .40 Celebrating the life of John H. Mize Jr. On the Cover Bethany Building Center owners Marlene and Mike Littrell recently completed a reset and remodel of their store in Bethany, Missouri, with the help of Blish-Mize experts and programs.

F our simple guiding ideas have pushed us forward for more than 150 years: • Investing in our employees • Providing exceptional customer service • Managing cost-effective logistics and delivery • Open communication .

As we stand at the threshold of a fresh spring season, I am reminded of what our company has

achieved thanks to each team member’s dedication and hard work. We have navigated challenges, celebrated victories and grown together. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. By making customer satisfaction our No. 1 priority, we continue to solidify our position as the preferred and most trusted distribution partner around. This ethos is shared by Bethany Building Center, featured on Page 24, which just completed a major reset and remodel. Mike Littrell also runs a generations-deep family business. He recognized the need to modernize to assist his customers in navigating the store in a fresh way. He called us in to help them reset, remodel and figure out new store logistics. On Page 30, you will see Shamburger & Graham Building Center, our flagship Texas customer. They have made a success out of putting both customers and employees above all else and becoming the destination building center for many types of buyers. It is a pivotal time at the company as owner Don Graham looks to the future and succession planning. Both of these businesses have been buying from us for over 35 years! And on Page 20, you’ll read about Janet Elias in our Heart of Hardware section. She is one of our most loyal employees, having celebrated 50 years working for Blish-Mize. She exemplifies what it means to have a family business, and we are glad she is part of it. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of my father, John H. Mize Jr., who served as the chairman of the board at Blish-Mize Co. He was a friend to many in the industry, a great leader and loved by all at the office. His main focus was always the customer, and we will continue that tradition for many years to come. You can read more about him on Page 40.

Advertising Information Hardlines Strategies is published twice every year by Blish-Mize. Copyright 2024. For advertising rates and deadlines, please contact:

Warm Regards, Jonathan D. Mize Chairman and CEO

Blish Connor Blish-Mize

223 S. Fifth St., Box 249 Atchison, Kansas 66002 Toll free: (800) 995-0525 (913) 367-1250

(913) 375-2505 (cell) (913) 367-0667 (fax) Email:

Blish-Mize is a member-owner of Distribution America

Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2024 1


How to Develop a Culture of Selling NHPA’s Kim Peffley Shares Insights and Advice

Strategies: What is a culture of selling and what does that look like? How is this different from what retailers may already be doing? Kim Peffley: A culture of selling is one where everyone is actively involved in increasing sales and working toward the same goals. A culture of selling goes beyond mere transactions—it is a mindset and set of behaviors within a business that strongly emphasize sales growth, customer satisfaction and collective contribution to business success. It starts with a mindset shift. In a culture of selling, and consulting for the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA), will present “Developing a Culture of Selling” at the Spring Buying Market on Friday, March 22 at 10 a.m. Learn more on Page 16. K im Peffley, director of organizational development

employees at all levels adopt a mindset where sales aren’t just the responsibility of a specific department or team. Instead, it is viewed as a collective effort involving everyone—from frontline staff interacting directly with customers to managers and even the company’s leadership. It is all about taking a customer-centric approach. It revolves around understanding and meeting customer needs. Rather than solely focusing on product pushing, the emphasis is on providing solutions and enhancing the customer experience. It encourages collaboration and communication among departments. For instance, marketing, sales and customer service align to ensure a cohesive strategy that attracts, retains and satisfies customers. It promotes an environment of continuous improvement where employees are encouraged to suggest innovative ideas, share best practices and participate in ongoing training to enhance their selling skills. Employees take ownership of their roles in driving sales and are held accountable for their contributions. This accountability fosters a sense of responsibility and motivation to achieve sales goals. This culture differs from what some retailers might already have in place.

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Unlike environments where only select team members are responsible for revenue generation, a culture of selling engages all employees in understanding how their roles contribute to overall sales and business success. Ultimately, a culture of selling creates a unified, customer centric and collaborative environment where everyone plays a part in driving sales, fostering customer loyalty and contributing to the overall growth and success of the retail business.

Traditional approaches might focus more on transactional sales—completing a sale and moving on—while a culture of selling prioritizes building relationships with customers to foster repeat business and loyalty. In some organizations, different departments might work in silos, leading to fragmented strategies. However, a culture of selling integrates various departments to ensure a holistic approach to customer engagement and sales growth.

Steps to Develop a Culture of Selling

5 Confidence through training. Invest in comprehensive training programs to build employee confidence. Identify areas that need improvement and tailor training modules accordingly. 6 Clarify impact. Ensure everyone understands how their role contributes to the business. Highlight the impact of individual efforts on overall sales performance. 7 Improve average ticket. Implement actionable strategies to enhance the average ticket size, such as upselling techniques, bundling offers or loyalty programs.

1 Establish clear goals. Define specific targets such as net sales, average ticket, customer count and conversion rate. These metrics will serve as benchmarks to measure progress. 2 Define key metrics. Identify the current metrics being tracked and establish a tracking system. Determine who within the organization has access to these numbers and who needs additional training to comprehend and utilize them effectively. 3 Establish roles. Clearly define roles in cultivating the culture of selling. Owners, managers and frontline employees each play unique roles in fostering this culture. 4 Lead and train. Implement leadership lessons that emphasize the value of sales and create an environment that supports this culture. Leverage the company’s culture and core values to further this objective.

Attend Kim’s presentation at the Spring Buying Market on Friday at 10 a.m.

Kim Peffley began her career 30 years ago, working at her family’s home improvement business before serving as general manager for a seven-store chain. As the director of organizational development and consulting for NHPA, Peffley leads retailers through comprehensive organizational change to improve internal communications and processes, create stronger teams and drive success.

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2024 Spring Selections Check Out Top Vendors and Products This Season

Battery Charger Box The DeWalt TOUGHSYSTEM® 2.0 dual-port sealed charging box charges, stores and transports DeWalt® 20V MAX* and FLEXVOLT® 20V/60V MAX* batteries. With two ports for simultaneous charging and two USB ports for personal electronics, the storage box helps charge and keep batteries safe. DeWalt or 800-433-9258

Pruning Shears The Milwaukee M12™ Brushless Pruning Shears deliver fast, controlled pruning while reducing muscle effort by 75%. The pruning shears deliver the power to cut up to 1 ¼-inch branches while providing the ability to lock the blades into half of that capacity through the mode select board. Active Blade Control enables the blade movement to follow the trigger movement, providing more control over the cut capacity. When paired with the M12™ CP2.0 Battery, the pruning shears deliver up to 1,000 cuts per charge in 1/2-inch branches. Milwaukee Tool or 800-729-3878

Cabinet Hardware Planogram The KasaWare 4-foot planogram of cabinet hardware packs is designed to transform aisles and engage consumers through its attractive merchandising and cohesive product and packaging designs. The planogram offers a variety of cabinet hardware finishes and styles. KasaWare products include installation templates, step-by-step instructions and product placement suggestions for easy installation. Hardware Resources or 800-463-0660

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SPRING BUYING MARKET MARCH 21-23, 2024 Overland Park Convention Center Booth #340 Overland Park, KS SPRING BUYING MARKET MARCH 21-23, 2024 Overland Park Convention Center Booth #340 Overland Park, KS


Copyright © 2024 IRWIN. The blue and yellow color scheme is a trademark for IRWIN power tool accessories and non-strik ing hand tools for non-tile applications. Copyright © 2024 IRWIN. The blue and yellow color scheme is a trademark for IRWIN power tool accessories and non-strik ing hand tools for non-tile applications.


Attachable Dust Pan The Danco Attachable Dust Pan transforms an ordinary 5-gallon bucket into a jumbo dustpan for everyday household and pro projects. The dust pan attachment latches and locks onto a 5-gallon bucket rim for fast and easy cleanup. It can be used for construction and job worksites, warehouses, yard work and everyday home cleanup. Danco or 800-523-5135

Wood Repair Products ABATRON LiquidWood® and WoodEpox® wood restoration epoxies can be sanded, machined and painted like wood. The LiquidWood® penetrating epoxy wood hardener stabilizes and restores the strength of damaged wood, while the WoodEpox® lightweight epoxy wood filler rebuilds missing sections of wood. They are both DIY friendly and available in a wide range of sizes and kits. ABATRON or 800-445-1754


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Tarps Gorilla Tarps offer three layers of material folded on each other with two rows of reinforced stitching for a much higher grommet attachment strength compared to standard tarps. The tarps feature D-rings on the four corners and grommets along the hem. Two styles of Gorilla tarps are available: Tough (red) and Max Tough (silver), with multiple sizes offered for each of the two styles. Erickson or 810-765-1144

Single Gang Electrical Drywall Box Cutter The Arrow Single Gang Electrical Drywall Box Cutter easily cuts through drywall and single-gang electrical boxes in seconds. Its universal fit makes it compatible with oscillating tools from Bosch, CRAFTSMAN, Dremel, FEIN, Milwaukee, DeWalt and more. Arrow or 800-776-2228

Booth # 248

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Paint Applicators Valspar paint applicators offer tools for paint projects big or small, with wall and trim brushes, woven and knit roller covers, mini rollers, kits and more. Valspar or 877-825-7727

Floor Protection MADICO offers a comprehensive selection of floor and surface protection, nonskid products and mobility solutions. Its ECO FELTAC® self-stick felt is made in North America and features deep-injected adhesive technology for optimal holding power. MADICO or 800-463-6272

Faster and easier to install.

Aerosol Spray Textures The new line of DAP 2 in 1 Wall & Ceiling aerosol spray textures claims to reinvent aerosol spray texture applications in function, formula and finish, with a new collection of Orange Peel, Knockdown and Popcorn textures that deliver consistent and professional results. DAP’s aerosol cans feature Aim Tech technology with a 60-degree adjustable nozzle angle to easily repair vertical, overhead and hard-to-reach areas. DAP or 888-327-8477





Scan to learn more.

8 Spring 2024 • Hardlines Strategies



Your App, Your Way Blish-Mize Rolls Out New Market App Updates

M ore updates are coming to the new Blish-Mize Market app, launched in the fall of 2023. Changes include the addition of ordering and scanning capabilities, which will go live in advance of the Spring Buying Market in March.

“We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of the newest and more robust version of our Market app,” says Clay Uhrmacher, vice president of sales and marketing. “The enhancements to the app include scannable ordering, spiff tracking, prize ticket tracking and even more visibility to vendor programs.” The new Blish-Mize Market app was first introduced at the 2023 Fall Buying Market and featured Market information to help customers navigate the event. “The first version got great reviews,” Uhrmacher says. “This new update will be very popular. We wanted to offer more to our customers and give them an ordering tool that makes their Buying Market experience even better.” The app was developed in-house and built to meet the needs of Blish-Mize customers. “Our goal is to offer our customers one of the best event apps in the industry and to elevate their overall Buying Market experience,” Uhrmacher says.

What are the latest app updates? The new app updates enable the scanning and ordering of Buying Market products.

How can you use the app? The app allows customers to:

• Easily place Market orders using the scanning and ordering tools • Instantly access product details by scanning a product SKU • View a complete vendor directory, showing specials offered by each vendor • Track cash spiff and prize tickets • View the latest Market program information.

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See the New Market App in Action

View and search the complete vendor directory.

View and shop special offers from vendors.

View product details using the search or scan tools and easily add items to place an order.

Place orders directly from the Market app.



hardware house BOOTH # 164

booth # 720 larsen supply

booth # 739 ppg

booth # 540 milwaukee

md building bOOTH # 166

booth # 504 dap


stanley black & decker


booth # 506 wooster

booth # 203

booth # 340

booth # 440 apex

valspar BOOTH # 204

visit sponsoring vendor booths for your chance at plinko!


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Shop the 2024 Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market and connect with vendors, other retailers and the Blish-Mize team on the show floor and at Market events.

Sky-High Savings The Spring Buying Market Is Your Ticket to Great Deals T ake advantage of deals, new product discovery, networking and Your Spring Buying Market Checklist Traffic Builders

learning opportunities at the 2024 Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market, which will take place March 21-23 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kansas. “We’re thrilled to introduce our new Blish-Mize Market app at the Spring Buying Market. It offers enhanced features, including ordering and product scanning,” says Cindy Kane, marketing director. “In addition, our new Assortment Avenue area, featuring spring and summer assortments, will provide customers with yet another way to plan and shop for seasonal selling.”


Surprise Buys


Assortment Avenue

Aisle Openers

Business Workshops

What’s New


Pallet Buys

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Browse Market-Only Opportunities Stop by these areas at the Spring Buying Market to discover new products, merchandising strategies and Market-only deals.

Surprise Buys Check out mystery deals on products and enjoy appetizers and drinks during the kickoff event. Cash spiffs available. When: March 21 from 4-7 p.m. THURSDAY ONLY

Market Coupons In-person attendees get access to market coupons for exclusive deals. When: All Market hours

ShowStoppers Shop huge discounts on individual items, and stick around for the cash and prize drawings at 10:15 a.m. When: March 23 from 8-10 a.m. SATURDAY ONLY

Traffic Builders: Stackout Event Explore 68 heavily discounted product stackouts on display. When: All Market hours

Explore Additional Market Programs

Assortment Avenue Visit Assortment Avenue for popular assortments and merchandising tips for appealing displays. Aisle Openers Explore endcap and impulse displays from stocking and non-stocking vendors.

Interactive Sponsoring Vendor App Game

Visit sponsoring vendor booths to learn how to qualify for an exclusive prize ticket.

Sponsor Event To join the Thursday and Friday night drawings, visit sponsoring vendor booths and ask how you can qualify for the chance to win a prize drawing.

Market Attendee Terms Attend our Spring Buying Market and receive a 4% cash discount and 60-day terms on all Market warehouse purchases. Spend $6,000+ in Market warehouse purchases and double your dating. Ask your Blish-Mize sales representative for complete details.

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SPRING BUYING MARKET MARCH 21-23, 2024 Overland Park Convention Center Booth #340 Overland Park, KS

*Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is 18. **Vs. D E WALT XR ® batteries 5.0 Ah or less, not in application. Copyright © 2024 DEWALT. The following are trademarks for one or more DEWALT power tools, accessories, anchors and concrete adhesives: The yellow and black color scheme; the “D”-shaped air intake grill; the array of pyramids on the handgrip; the kit box configuration; and the array of lozenge-shaped humps on the surface of the tool.

4213768_DW_Ad-Blish-Mize_MAY2023-FALL Market ADS_Flyer-Print-EN_DMK.indd/RDG/23-4213768

Grow Your Business Attend Business Workshops to Improve Your Operation

Developing a Culture of Selling Friday, March 22 at 10 a.m. | Presenter: Kim Peffley, NHPA

A culture of selling is one where everyone in the business is actively involved in increasing sales and working toward the same goals. In this presentation, you’ll learn how to drive sales, enhance employee engagement and grow your business.

Leveraging Consumer Financing to Drive New Customers and Grow Your Business Friday, March 22 at 1:30 p.m. | Presenter: Jonathan Crutcher, Synchrony HOME Did you know there are over 5 million cardholders with $23 billion in available credit within the Synchrony HOME Network? Unlock more for your business and learn more about how consumer financing products help you attract and retain new customers.

New Item Showcase Friday, March 22 at 3 p.m. | Presenters: Top Blish-Mize Vendors

Our top vendors will each have four minutes to showcase their favorite new products available through the Blish-Mize warehouse. Come hear their pitches to receive a free hat and entry into the app prize game giveaway.

Stop by Booth # 203

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Use Your SmartBook Your SmartBook is available online and in print and can help you make smart buying decisions before and during the Spring Market. Use Your SmartBook This booklet is customized for your store and 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. SmartBook Sections • 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 to receive your personalized SmartBook and start planning your time at the Market.

Rugged Durability: Built with high-quality materials, Taiga Coolers are rugged enough to handle any outdoor escapade. From camping trips to fishing excursions, trust Taiga to keep your refreshments cool in the harshest environments. Ice Retention Mastery: Experience extended ice retention like never before. Taiga Coolers incorporate advanced insulation technology to ensure your ice lasts longer, keeping your drinks colder for an extended period.

Versatile Sizes: Whether you’re hosting a backyard BBQ or embarking on a week-long camping trip, Taiga offers a range of sizes to suit your needs.

Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2024 17

Download the Apps Use the Blish-Mize and Blish-Mize Market apps to help you make the most of your time at the Market. Read more about updates to the Market app on Page 10.

Blish-Mize App • Browse the Blish-Mize product catalog • Place orders from your smartphone or tablet • View updated product and

Market App • Place orders • Scan products to access product information or place orders • View the Market schedule • Review Market program information • Access the vendor directory and see Market specials • Track cash spiff and prize tickets



inventory information, scan UPC barcodes and see your personalized purchase information

The apps are free to download on iOS and Android devices. Search “Blish-Mize” in your app store to download the apps and plan your Market experience.


# 742

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Market Schedule

THURSDAY 4-7 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MVP Event Deals, spiffs, food and drinks 4-7 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Surprise Buys Huge discounts on 10 individual items and cash spiffs 4-6:30 p.m. .................................... Sponsor Event Exclusive prize drawings at 6:45 p.m. All Show Hours . . . . . . . . . . . . . Traffic Builders: Stackout Event FRIDAY 8 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Market Opens 10 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Business Workshop “Developing a Culture of Selling,” presented by Kim Peffley, NHPA 12 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lunch 1-5 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Plinko 1:30 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Business Workshop “Leveraging Consumer Financing to Drive New Customers and Grow Your Business,” presented by Jonathan Crutcher, Synchrony HOME

3 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Business Workshop New Item Showcase 4:30-6:30 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sponsor Event Exclusive prize drawing at 6:45 p.m. 5-7 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . Dinner, Drinks and Fun on the Show Floor 6:30 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cash and Prize Drawings 7 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Market Closes SATURDAY 8 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Market Opens 8-10 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ShowStoppers Huge discounts on individual items 10:05 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . App Prize Drawing 10:15 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ShowStoppers Drawing 10:20 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cash and Prize Drawings 10:30 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Market Closes



Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2024 19


Closing Deals, Opening Doors Meet Regional Sales Manager Janet Elias

R egional sales manager Janet Elias recently celebrated 50 years of service at Blish-Mize. During her time with the company, she has achieved many milestones and firsts. She was the company’s first woman sales representative, and today she manages a sales team of eight. Continue reading to learn more about Elias and how she got her start at Blish-Mize and in sales.

Regional sales manager Janet Elias was the company’s first female sales representative. In 2023, she celebrated 50 years with Blish-Mize.

From Fields to Forklifts When self-described farm girl Janet Elias graduated from high school in 1973, her family offered two options: go to school or get a job. Elias decided to pursue vocational-technical school and a career in drafting—but first, she needed a summer job. Her sister-in-law’s father worked at the Blish-Mize warehouse, and he told her they were hiring summer help. According to Elias, she was hired the same day she applied for a job. At the time, Blish-Mize was implementing a new computer system, so she spent her summer applying seven-digit SKU numbers to each item in the warehouse. The time-consuming project often required overtime, and Elias says she worked as many hours as she could, sometimes 10 to 12 hours a day and on weekends. “I was in tall cotton, making more money than I ever had in my life,” she says. “So at the end of the summer, when they offered me a full-time job, I decided to stay on.” Elias continued working in the warehouse for five years before she found herself knocking on the door of company president and

CEO John H. Mize Sr. The ensuing conversation would change the trajectory of her career. “I went in and sat down and told him, ‘I don’t want to spend the rest of my career punching a clock. I want to know what other opportunities I have with the company,’” she says. Elias says Mize Sr. offered her a role in customer service, which she accepted with the caveat that her real interest was in sales. “He was a little taken aback and told me, ‘You do know it’s a man’s world out there,’” she says. “Well, that was the wrong thing to say to a country girl who was raised with six brothers.” Elias says she saw the conversation as a challenge, and from then on, set out to prove both to herself and Mize Sr. that she could succeed in sales. First Lady of Sales Elias worked in customer service at Blish-Mize for a few years but was able to gain sales experience by filling in for the company’s sales representatives when they were out on vacation.

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“Back then, the technology wasn’t nearly what it is today,” she says. “You had to physically go in and write the orders, so it required somebody working in the field when a sales representative was on vacation.” Elias says she remained persistent with Mize Sr., and eventually, her tenacity was rewarded. When a sales representative needed someone to fill in while he recovered from a car accident, she was sent to Oklahoma City. She says Mize Sr. handed her a map and the keys to a car. “I hadn’t been out of the Atchison area much,” she says. “It was a challenge, making myself leave and not knowing where I was going. But I did it and worked in that territory for about 30 days.” Elias eventually assumed responsibility for a territory in northeast Missouri, which she covered until 1987 when she transferred to Springfield, Missouri. About 12 years ago, she was promoted to regional manager. Back to the Drafting Board When reflecting on her years with Blish-Mize, Elias says her career has brought her dreams full circle. She often assists with store remodels and goes into lumberyards and hardware stores to help design new layouts. To do this, she uses a DeltaCad program she learned on the job at Blish-Mize. “I have to kind of smile about it because I get to do my drafting—even though I didn’t go to school to learn how to do it. I didn’t ever dream that would happen,” she says.

Elias began working for Blish-Mize in 1973, first in the warehouse and later in customer service and sales.

In December of 2023, Elias completed a 15-day church mission trip in Thailand.

Stop by Booth # 512

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A Golden Anniversary Last year, Elias was presented with the Estwing Golden Hammer Award from Estwing Manufacturing Co. for her 50 years of service in the home improvement industry. She says she is grateful for the thousands of co-workers and retailers she has had the pleasure of working with over the years—and for the many happy memories. “I have never had a flat tire or a speeding ticket,” she says. “I have just been blessed in so many ways over the millions of miles I have traveled.” In her spare time, Elias enjoys catching up with family and attending church. In December, she completed a 15-day mission trip to Thailand. However, she says her work serving Blish-Mize customers is her life’s passion, and she hopes to continue working for many years to come. “I feel very blessed by Blish-Mize,” she says. “The Mize family has been very, very good to me. They basically raised me and made me who I am as a person. I wouldn’t be where I am—or who I am—if it wasn’t for Blish-Mize. I am very grateful for that, and I owe my accomplishments to their belief and trust in me. It’s been a very good journey.”

To celebrate her 50th anniversary with the company, Elias’ co-worker, Cindy Kane, made her a quilt with the different Blish-Mize logos.

Stop by Booth # 208


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Booth # 440


Building Success Bethany Building Center Resets for the Future With Blish-Mize

Seven full-time employees work at Bethany Building Center. From left to right: Mark, Blake, Marlene, Mike, Linda, Chad and Eric. In the summer, the store also hires local youths, including Mike’s children, as a way to continue the family tradition of working in the store.

A strong father-son bond— and a longstanding relationship with supplier Blish-Mize—are at the heart of Bethany Building Center’s success. The location recently underwent a store reset using Blish-Mize programs and expertise to optimize the store’s layout, appearance and product offerings.

Setting the Scene Bethany Building Center, located in downtown Bethany, Missouri, serves a town of approximately 3,000 residents and the surrounding communities. Catering primarily to contractors and some DIYers, it is a full-line hardware, lumber and building materials center. Although it started as a lumberyard, the business has expanded and evolved over the years. In 2000, Bethany Building Center purchased the building next door to house a showroom. There was an expansion in 2006 and another

in 2010, bringing the building’s total footprint to 8,640 square feet. In 2023, the business completed a comprehensive store reset. Today, outside of the typical hardware departments and offerings, Bethany Building Center is an authorized STIHL dealer and sells Koch & Co. cabinets, Valspar paint, Onyx Collection showers and vanities, solid surface countertops, millwork doors and Anderson windows. The building center’s showroom features residential windows, doors, siding, deck railings, decking, shingles, columns, hardware, paint and more.

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When One Chapter Ends, Another Begins Lowell Littrell, father of manager

Mike Littrell, was a sales representative for 17 years with Wyeth Hardware Co., covering northern Missouri and southern Iowa. In 1987, he left Wyeth Hardware and purchased North Missouri Lumber with a business partner, Gene Hogue. The location would eventually become Bethany Building Center. In 2003, Lowell asked his now-adult son to join him in the family business. Mike had completed a business management degree from Missouri Western State University and worked for five years in sales at Mid-Am Building Supply in Moberly, Missouri. The time was right, and father and son were eager to work together. Mike brought value to the business by creating house designs, a skill his father taught him to better assist customers— Relationship with Blish-Mize Bethany Building Center’s relationship with Blish-Mize can be traced back to Lowell’s former co-workers at Wyeth Hardware who joined the Blish-Mize sales team. In 1990, Bethany Building Center began exclusively using Blish-Mize as its supplier based on these connections. Bethany Building Center’s bond with Blish-Mize only grew stronger over the years and through different sales representatives. When the store’s current Blish-Mize sales representative, Randy Funk, suggested a store reset in 2023, Mike knew they were in good hands. Funk had been his representative for 12 years and had called on the store for even longer through the Blish-Mize DeWalt program. Ready, Set, Reset The goals of the Bethany Building Center reset were threefold: to better organize the product categories, add to the product offerings and refresh the store’s appearance and showroom displays. According to Funk, he and Mike began to seriously discuss the project in March 2023. They decided on the new layout, determined how to create additional space in the store and identified the categories they would expand. along with a work ethic and good, old-fashioned customer service.

In 2023, Bethany Building Center completed a comprehensive store reset to better organize the product categories, add to the product offerings and refresh the store’s appearance.

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A Lasting Legacy Lowell passed away in 2022—a year after he received his Golden Hammer Award for 50 years of service in the hardware industry. The award was presented to him by Jonathan Mize, Blish-Mize chairman and CEO; Clay Uhrmacher, vice president working alongside his dad as priceless. “He was a good role model, and I got to spend my childhood with him and work with him for 20-plus years,” he says. “That’s not something most people can say.” According to Mike, after Lowell’s passing, many people in the industry, including Lowell’s customers from his time as a salesperson and contacts he had known for 50 years, reached out in a show of support. “He had a lot of friends and a big following in the industry,” Mike says. “Knowing he made an impression on so many people makes me feel very honored.” of sales and marketing; and Funk. Mike describes the time he spent

added Generac generators, Valspar trim paint, Rust-Oleum products and Forney welding supplies. Funk says the changes better align with the high-quality products the building center’s customers enjoy. They also expanded the store’s product offerings in the plumbing and electrical departments and added products to lawn and garden, heating and cooling, automotive, RV, rope and tie down, masonry, door locks and hardware. Funk managed the vendor relationships and buyback opportunities throughout the reset process. “Randy played a significant role in the decisions for this reset,” Mike says. “I trusted him and relied on Blish-Mize to use all of their data and expertise to reset the store and showroom.” For his part, Funk says he appreciates the faith Mike showed him and Blish-Mize throughout the process.

They then started the reset process in July, which took approximately one month to complete. They reconfigured the space and changed the direction of the aisles to gain another 96 feet. New signage and aisle violators were also installed to improve the store’s appearance and customer shopping experience. Mike describes the result as more departmentalized, with each department now having its own aisle. “Due to the extra space, we were able to create longer aisles and keep things together,” he says. They also relocated the checkout counter to a more convenient location near the front door—so when customers enter the store, they directly approach the counter, allowing employees to greet them as they walk in. Product changes included switching the power tools and hand tools to Diablo and Milwaukee. They also


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“He was a good role model, and I got to spend my childhood with him and work with him for 20-plus years. That’s not something most people can say,” —Mike Littrell says about his father, Lowell.

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“Lowell was a great man and a class act,” Funk says. “I gained an immense amount of knowledge from listening to his stories and advice.” Regional sales manager Janet Elias, who called on Lowell in the 1970s when she was just starting to work in sales, remembers Lowell for his kindness and support. “Lowell was the one who really helped me get my teeth cut on hardware and its terminology. He was a very kind person and would spend time quizzing me on what items were called or what people would ask for,” she says. “He was one of my favorites I called on back in the day.” Charting a Course for the Next Chapter When looking to the future, Mike says he plans to continue refining and enhancing the store’s offerings following the reset. He also plans to continue growing his business with the help of Blish-Mize. This includes regular visits to the biannual Buying Markets. “Although I go to the Blish-Mize Markets to discover new products, it’s also for the people,” he says. “I grew up going to these Markets. You buy from people you know, and it’s nice to meet new people or put a face to a name.”

During the remodel, the store’s checkout counter was moved to a more convenient location near the front door, so customers entering the store now walk directly toward the counter.

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Embracing Heritage Shamburger & Graham Building Center Bridges Yesterday and Tomorrow

Don Graham, owner of Shamburger & Graham Building Center, credits his success to his loyal, longtime employees. From left to right: Pam, Don, Bert and AC.

S hamburger & throwback to a time when relationships were not just measured in years, but decades—back when a handshake was a promise, a person’s word was their bond and family meant everything. Now, as the custodian of this rich legacy, owner Don Graham looks to the future. Graham Building Center is a

A Square on the Map The small town of Graham in

Shamburger & Graham Building Center, which has operated in Graham for more than 100 years. Its storied history is evident in the details, such as the original 1920s lumber sheds still standing from its early days as a lumberyard or the antique tools displayed on the walls. The location was once part of C.D. Shamburger Lumber Co., a chain of lumberyards founded in 1907 in Vernon, Texas, by C.D. Shamburger. The Shamburger locations delivered timber to the oil fields by team and wagon. Over the years, the business grew to include 40 lumberyards spread across small towns in southwest Oklahoma and Texas By 1937, Shamburger was the largest independent lumber company in the region. Don’s father, Eddie, began working for Shamburger Lumber Co. in 1960.

north-central Texas is famous for its downtown square—the largest in the U.S. The square is home to a drive-in movie theater, annual parades and many local businesses, including Shamburger & Graham Building Center. Located an hour and a half outside of the busy Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Graham is heavily influenced by the local oil, gas and ranching industries. It is a town of about 9,000 residents, where people come to retire and get away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. “Everybody knows everybody here,” Don says. “People honk at me and wave when they see me out and about.” Tale of Tradition A sense of history and tradition is deeply rooted in the culture at

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Range of Retail Shamburger & Graham makes about $1.4 million in annual sales. It offers a strong lumber and building materials selection and also carries electrical, plumbing, windows, doors and paint. The main salesfloor is 4,000 square feet, but the old-fashioned lumberyard outside, including the different buildings and lumber sheds on the property, adds up to just under 17,000 square feet. “Anything that goes in a house, we’ve got it,” Don says. When it comes to power and hand tools, the store offers a mix of products from brands such as DeWalt, Bosch and SKIL. Don says after working for many years in the business and finding what works best, he is a firm believer that each power tool company specializes in and makes something better than others. Quality Above All Else The original Shamburger locations all displayed a sign stating: Quality and service since 1907. An old sign hanging in Don’s office reads, “The sour taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweet taste of a cheap price.” “We have always prided ourselves not on being the cheapest, but offering quality and service,” he says. “That’s our thing.” There are two other lumberyards in town, located just a couple of miles away. But quality products and service—which often

By 1980, he partnered with C.D. to become a co-owner of the Graham location, and the lumberyard’s name was changed to Shamburger & Graham. After C.D. passed away in 2000, full ownership of the location transferred to the Graham family per the terms of their buy-sell agreement. Don officially began working at Shamburger & Graham in 1980. He was eager to join the family business after studying at college for a year. He had worked at the store all his life—sweeping the floors, stocking the shelves and loading the lumber. And he enjoyed helping people and running a small-town business. “It was in my blood,” Don says. Handshakes and Hardware The customer base at Shamburger & Graham is an even split between contractors and homeowners or DIYers. Don says he has noticed a recent influx of people moving to town to escape big city life in the Metroplex and other states. His vision for the store is a space where new customers become friends. “The first time a new customer comes in, we learn their name and where they are moving from,” he says. “After they come in a few more times, they become our friends. We’ll see them downtown, at the grocery store or church.”

The lumberyard, including the different buildings and lumber sheds on the property, totals just under 17,000 square feet.

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includes helping customers with project tips and instructions—are what set Shamburger & Graham apart from the local competition. “We don’t just fill orders and let our customers leave,” Don says. “We recommend the right supplies and how to use them and walk our customers through the different stages of their projects.” The Start of a Beautiful Friendship Shamburger & Graham’s relationship with Blish-Mize dates back to the late 1980s. By this time, a number of Shamburger locations had closed, but eight stores remained in business and used Belknap Hardware and Manufacturing Co. as their hardware supplier. When Belknap went out of business in 1986, its former sales representatives approached Blish-Mize to see if there was any interest in running trucks to Texas and doing business with the Shamburger stores. Then president and CEO John H. Mize Jr. drew up an agreement and the Shamburger stores became the supplier’s flagship Texas customers. Today, Shamburger & Graham is the last of the Shamburger stores. Still, Blish-Mize continues to honor the agreement from 1986. “After all these years, they still honor their word,” Don says. “They have been really good to us.”

Shamburger & Graham offers a strong lumber and building materials selection along with electrical, plumbing, windows, doors and paint.

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In 2022, Blish-Mize regional sales manager Mike Wilson presented Don with the Estwing Golden Hammer Award for 50 years of service in the hardware industry. Honoring Ties With Friends and Family Don lives what he describes as a Mayberry lifestyle, referring to the fictional small town from “The Andy Griffith Show,” which aired on TV in the 1960s. He worked alongside his parents for most of his life. His wife and father-in-law also worked nearby, at the square’s bank and barbershop. Don’s mother and father both passed away a decade ago, after having worked side by side for many years. He says they were never more than a few feet apart for more than 30 minutes. “Dad would get into the store at 7:30 a.m., and Mom would get here at 8 a.m. They’d have lunch for an hour in the afternoon and then go home at 5 p.m.,” he says. “You don’t see that anymore.” After his parents passed away, Don says he asked himself how he was going to manage the store without seeing them every day, but slowly, things have worked out.

In 2022, Don received the Estwing Golden Hammer Award for 50 years of service in the hardware industry.


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Over the years, customers have donated to a collection of antique and old tools hanging on the walls at Shamburger & Graham.

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important to Don that it be someone willing to come in and learn the business from the ground up while working side by side with the store’s employees. After much thought and prayer—and a conversation with a mutual friend—Don found the perfect solution in someone he already knew. Hunter Walls was born and raised in Graham and worked for a farm and ranch store when he was a student at Texas Tech University. After graduation, he continued to work for the operation, managing a store outside of Lubbock, Texas. However, he recently moved back to Graham so he could live closer to family and raise his child with his wife in the town where he grew up. After weeks of serious discussion, Don and Hunter entered into an old-fashioned, handshake agreement: Beginning in January, Don would mentor Hunter on all aspects of the Shamburger & Graham store so he could one day take over management of the business. “Hunter is just a perfect fit,” Don says. “I call it a God wink when things just fall into place like this.” Don says he is excited about the future. He plans to continue working at Shamburger & Graham as long as he is able but hopes to work fewer hours and transition to part time in the next five or 10 years. “I couldn’t be happier,” he says. “The Shamburger name will survive and carry on.”

“There was not a day that went by that my mom didn’t know if I got a fresh haircut or a new shirt,” he says. “But I just kept putting on more hats and it worked out.” He credits getting through this time—and his success—to his three loyal and hardworking employees who have worked at the store for many years. Bert, who Don describes as like a brother, has dedicated 39 years to working at the store. AC boasts a 19-year tenure, while Pam has contributed to the team for 13 years. The Next Chapter These days, Don likes to stay involved in the community. He is a member of the local chamber of commerce. He was also active for many years with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, where he served on the board of directors and donated building supplies. Don works six days a week at the store. His children live outside of the area and don’t have an interest in taking on the business. Although Shamburger & Graham’s past is ever present, until recently, the future was less clear. “I never thought about succession planning, but what if something happened to me? I worried the store could shut down,” he says. “You need to plan for this because time will sneak up on you.” Finding the right person to mentor and eventually take on the future management of the business was no easy task. It was

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